Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 24
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Minnesota and Take a Left

    I'm sitting here on a cruddy connection in a Super 8 Motel in Nixa, Mo, about 3 miles outside of Springfield, MO.

    After a bad nights sleep last night (combo asthma and excitement - kept thinking I was awake - but have vivid memories of talking to Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series) I left town at 7:15 this morning and headde straight for Highway 71. First stop was to see if Fouke, Arkansas had any kind of photo opps for the Fouke Monster aka the Boggy Creek Monster. There was one little statue thing that I got a picture of much to the amusement of the men hanging out at the local convenience store.

    I then continued to drive through Texarkana and didn't stop until I was sidetracked by a car show in some little town south of De Queen. I was trying to get to where the cars were and stepped off the asphalt path onto what I thought was another path. I immediately sank down to my knee in mud and had quite a time extricating myself with only one foot on solid ground and nothing to grab hold of. Luckily no one saw, but I was now covered in mud and decided that my only course of action was to wipe as much of the mud off of my foot and leg and get back in the car. I turned the air so it only blew on my feet and turned in up high. I was fairly dry by the time I got the Mena, Ark and beat most of the mud off my shoe and did another tidy wipe job on my legs. I walked around in Mena for a while, but nothing was open so I got back on the road.

    From Mena I just kept heading north and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the lower Ozarks and pondering over strange town names like "Y" City. Next stop was Fort Smith, Ark where I wanted to see Miss Laura's Bordello just because of the name. I got sidetracked, though and found my way to Fort Smith National Monument. Watched a movie about the history of the Fort and its later use as the main Courthouse, jail and gallows for the lawless Indian Territory of the late 19th century. Wandering around the grounds I found another car show (4th of July in Arkansas = car shows apparently) and managed to look at these cars without diving into quicksand.

    I then went down the street to Miss Lauras where I was shown around by a nice grandmotherly lady named Mildred who had a good sense of humour about explaining what went on in the house. It's a beautiful house and they've done a good job of restoration. There's not much left of the original interior of the house. It was left vacant for many years after the bordello come boardinghouse (the property description was changed by the Madame when prostitution was outlawed in 1924) shut down and vagrants camped out in the house chopping up the furniture for firewood. Then the house was damaged in 1996 by a tornado and had to be restored yet again. Mildred explained that Miss Laura bought the house in the late 1800s for 3,000 and sold it 9 years later for 47,000 based on the amount of business and girls that came with the house. Miss Mildred sent me on my way with my very on certificate designating me as a clean prostitute per the Arkansas Department of Health. :)

    I left Fort Smith and took Arkansas Highway 64 to Alma where I saw the Popeye Fountain there, got a picture and got back on Highway 71 again. The road from Alma to Fayetteville was a little scary. Lots of sharp turns and steep roads up and down in the Ozark mountains, but the scenery was to die for. I saw a car pulled over at an overlook and played monkey see monkey do. It turned out to be the new dam and resorvoir for the region. The people already there said that it had been completed the previous fall and had been expected to fill to capacity in 4-5 years, but the recent deluges that have struck LA, TX, AR, KS and MO had filled the resorvoir to 95% full. Crazy.

    Next stop was an adventure undertaken when I saw a sign for the official Walmart Greeting Center in its hometown of Bentonville, AR. I went and found the original Waltons Store where the Center is housed, but it was closed for the 4th. Boo - but I did walk around the square there before hitting the road again.

    I had another "oooh look" moment when I kept seeing signs for the Precious Moments Center. Now before I offend anyone who loves Precious Moments I'm going to say I'm sorry now. I find them only slightly less scary than Teletubbies and the My Little Pony show that came to my place of work a few months ago where the Pony's back legs didn't move, but kind of dragged behind the actors as they sang pony songs. (shudder). But PM - I think it's the eyes- they creep me out, so it was more like a trip to a horror shop when I pulled off in Carthage, MO and walked around the park.

    Having finished scaring myself I came on into Springfield, MO via Interstate 44 and found a hotel. One odd thing happened though. I was taking the exit to my hotel and spotted a gorgeous rainbow in the sky. When I left the interstate it was perfectly dry, but when I got off the exit ramp the road was sopping wet and it was still raining fairly hard.

    One of my friends went insane when I told here I was going to spend the night here and practically made me pinky swear that I'd go to the Bass Pro Shop and eat Chinese food while in Springfield. So I accomplished both of those missions and am now holed up in my hotel room until the morning listening to the fireworks outside my window. Although I have to say that I was quite impressed with the Bass Pro Shop - huge aquariums full of fish, turtles and even live ducks. An art gallery, a fudge shop, a starbucks, a barber shop and a museum (unfortunately closed for the day) were also in there. It was definitely cool.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Busy Day

    Can't wait to see what the next dozen or so hold if this is how you get started!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Day #2

    Not as busy today - lots of driving and detouring.

    Started off with the highly anticipated visit to my first Laura Ingalls Wilder sight, her house in Mansfield, MO where she wrote all the Little House books. I couldn't find anything online telling me when the museum opened so I aimed to get there around 8:30. Turned out to be 30 minutes early, but that was good because I enjoyed a nice, peaceful breakfast out under the trees in the parking lot for the home. They have a very nice museum on the property with explanations of the Ingalls and Wilder geneologies and many artifacts owned by them, including Pa's violin. I spent about 45 minutes exploring the museum which is amazing for someone with as low of an attention span as me. I made it through Carlsbad Caverns in an hour a couple of years ago and had no regrets.

    Next came a video about Laura's life and the books that included some spoken quotes from Laura herself. Very neat to hear her voice - much more of a "southern" accent than I would have expected especially since she never lived in the south. Then we got to tour Laura's house. I was amazed at how small the rooms were. But I must say that her husband, Almanzo Wilder, must have been an expceptionally industrious man. Not only did he work a 200 acre farm but he found time to build the house, make lamps out of various items found on their travels, carve chairs and rug hooking. He even made a hooked horse picture that he put on a pillow that sits in their front room. All in all it was what I had hoped it would be and I left with a happy heart.

    After that I really didn't have anymore places that I was desparate to stop until Kansas City. I did stop in at a the White Rose Winery not far from the intersection of I-44 and Highway 71 and purchased a bottle of wine. I passed on the wine tasting since I still had a ton of driving to do.

    The drive between I-44 and KC was punctured by reminders of the recent flooding. One part of 71 was down to two lanes because the south bound portion was under water. Lots of creeks and rivers overflowing their banks. Nothing but tree tops and the tops of corn stalks off the side of the road and the occasional street sign popping out of the water from frontage roads still underwater.

    I didn't stop again until I got to Kansas City. Feeling quite xenophobic and probably too used to traveling along small roads I took the I-435 loop around Kansas City. I stopped at LC's barbecue on the Blue Parkway in KC, though and had a very good turkey sandwich as recommended by the lady behind the counter. Turned out she was from Tallulah, LA not to far from where my Dad was raised. Back on the interstate onwards to Highway 71 again via I-29.

    Once in Iowa I had another "ooh look" moment when I saw signs for Glenn Millers birthplace in Clarinda. I stopped in and toured the house. It was a cute little tour based only on the fact that GM had once lived there when he was a child, but very interesting anyway. I kind of felt bad for them, though. They asked me to sign in and I noticed that no one had been there since July 3rd and this was not 5:00 pm on July 5th. :( So stop by if in the neighborhood, it's worth the stop.

    I stopped in at Villisca, IO to look around and see if I could see anything of the Olson Museum which commemorates an unsolved murder mystery in which 6 members of the family and 2 visiting children were murdered in their beds in the early 1900s. Since it was 6:00 at night everything was closed so I took pictures of the outside of the museum and got back on 71. I was greeted shortly afterwards with large signs saying road closed turn now. No warning, no nothing. It wasn't as if this was a recent road closure. My detour was marked with permanent signs. Grrr

    I wound up being sent out into the dead middle of corn farm land along a twisty mixtures of US highways and state roads. It was a giant zigzagging square 50 + mile detour. I kept passing signs for the same "attractions" and passed over the same river four times. I felt like I was in that Star Gate episode where Jack and Tealc live the same day over and over again and Jack's looped started with him eating Fruit Loops. Mine started with passing over the East N.... (some odd name) over and over again.

    I finally made my way back to 71 and am now encamped at a Days Inn in Atlantic, IA eating Ramen Noodles and drinking a beer.


  4. #4

    Default Urgh!

    Nightmare! Hope you don't meet any more diversions like that - sounds a right pita!! Glad you're having a good time though. It's precisely these 'adventures' that make roadtripping so memorable. And, in a funny way, relaxing. Cos stressing about something so relatively unimportant really does take your mind off 'real life' and the 9 to 5.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default I'm Alive

    Just having difficulty getting internet access out in the middle of South Dakota. I'm in the lobby of the Days Inn in Custer, SD. Brief recap of days

    1) Saw the following "biggest animals in the world": Albert the Bull in Audobon, Iowa and a Pheasant in Huron, Sd

    2) Visited Walnut Grove, Minn for the Laura Ingalls Wilder site there. Quite dissapointing - mainly just tacky tourist stuff and an homage to the TV show.

    3) Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, SD - was wary after the Walnut Grove incident, but was pleasantly surprised. They've actually got the original 160 acres the Ingalls Homesteaded and have set up a very nice display and activities.

    4) Ate supper at a combination restaurant/auto dealership. Failed to get a picture, though.

    Total Drive = Intersection of Highway 71 and Interstate 80 in Iowa to Highway 14 in Minnesota and ending the night in Huron, SD.


    1. Woke up to a freshly baked breakfast at the Super 8 in Huron - very nice.

    2. Drove down Highway 37 to Mitchell, SD to see the Corn Palace.

    3. I-90 to the Lakota Sioux Museum, the Badlands National Park and Wall Drug.

    4. Checked into my hotel in Custer, SD and the went and visited the Crazy Horse Monument where my digital camera gave up the ghost and I had to run into the gift shop and purchase a disposable one.

    If I ever get a real internet connection again I'll write up a full report for these past two days. There's someone waiting for this computer.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Woohoo!

    I'm back in business. I now have internet access and cell phone access again. South Dakota was great, but man - not having access to the outside world for 3 days kind of sucked.

    Ok - back to my reporting with Day 3.

    Woke up early from my hotel at the intersection of Highway 71 and I-80 in Iowa. I headed north with no real purpose until I spotted a sign that said "Welcome to Audobon, Iowa Hometown of Albert the Bull". I remembered having read something about a worlds largest bull in Iowa so I decided to hunt down Albert. He was right off Highway 71 and is a rather spectacular and , ahem, anatomically correct Bull. I took several pictures.

    Back on 71 I didn't stop again until Walnut Grove, Minn except for gas, etc. My thoughts on driving through the middle of corn country in Iowa. I loved it. It was the most peaceful, mid-America, rural yet homey place I've ever seen. I fell in love with Iowa and especially loved listening to each little towns radio stations announcing the local weekend activities coming up. Each town seemed to be having concerts, dances, fairs, etc. I felt like I had stepped back in time and had become part of the original movie of State Fair from the 40s. I kept expecting to hear Dick Haymes singing on the radio.

    Minnesota was next and this was where I finally got off of Highway 71 and turned onto Highway 14 going west. For some reason, even though I was still going through corn country in mid-America, it wasn't the same. I don't know. Not as vibrant or colorful. Who knows. Maybe I was just finally getting bored of corn, corn and more corn.

    I pulled off in Walnut Grove, Minnesota for my second of three Laura Ingalls Wilder stops. I was disappointed with this one. Too commercial, not many real artifacts from LIW, etc. They spent a lot of time focusing on the TV show rather than the woman. So I got back in my car a little downtrodden by the whole Minnesota experience.

    South Dakota was much better other than the whole being cut off from civilization for three days. Although that was actually kind of nice.

    First stop was in De Smet for my final Laura Ingalls Wilder site. This was a treat. I stopped at the Ingalls homestead which is actually the original 160 acres that Charles Ingalls homesteaded. They've set up replicas of the Ingall's houses on the original spots that they stood and even have examples of a shanty and a sod house that the early pioneers would have lived in before building their permanent residences. The highlight, however, was a 1/2 mile covered wagon ride from the house to a school house moved to the property. The horses were aptly name Pet and Patty. You could tell who had read the books and who hadn't when their names were given. I had been a little wary of this after the whole Wanut Grove debacle, but left a happy happy girl.

    I stopped for the night in Huron, South Dakota where I saw the worlds Largest Pheasant. Yep - it's a giant freaking pheasant on the side of Highway 14 in front of a bowling alley. I don't know.

    I stayed at a Super 8 Motel for the night and ate at a restaurant/auto dealership. I should have taken pictures, but I was so tired and hungry that I didn't even think about it.
    Last edited by lhuff; 07-09-2007 at 05:51 PM. Reason: Left out De Smet, duh

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Day 4

    I woke up in Huron, South Dakota to a wonderful surprise. Each room had a free copy of the local paper called the Plainsman and they were baking fresh muffins and cinamon rolls in the breakfast room. I gorged on breakfast and headed out with a full tummy. Not something I normally do, but heck - how often do you wake up to freshly baked goodies.

    I had planned to take Highway 14 across the entire state, but the corn palace kept calling me. And when I figured out the Huron was only 45 minutes away from the Corn Palace and I-90 that made up my mind. I took SD Highway 37 south.

    I arrived at the Palace a little before 8. The pictures don't do it justice, although I was surprised that it was in the middle of a city block in downtown Mitchell. I had always thought it was in a park or something from the pictures. Anyway - it was really cool. It's a cowboy theme this year and there are even corn murals inside the building which apears to be used as a municipal building of some sort.

    The smell of dried corn permeated the air and gave the town a nice homey aroma. I don't know why, but I never expected that. Silly, I know. I had a nice chat with the lady that worked in the gift shop across the street. She showed me pictures of the big snow they had back in the winter and talked about being without power for 10 days in below zero temperatures. I told her that I thought I'd stay in Louisiana even if it's hot, muggy and a den of corruption and thievery.

    I took off on I-90 and about freaked at being on an Interstate again, especially one with a 75 mph speed limit. I'd been on roads with 55 mph speed limits for days that wound gently through the country side. But I was soon used to the rat race again and sat back and watched the advertising signs that sprouted from the roadsides like weeds. They were great. It's a rather bleak landscape, but I was thoroughly entertained at the myriad of signs and advertising campaigns that flooded the roadside. Wall Drug's, of course, were the most prominent. Louisiana could really take a not from this. They banned advertising along I-49 in an effort to create a scenic drive. Ummm, I-49 runs through one giant pine tree forest for 200 miles and avoids towns like the plague. In other words, it's boring. I avoid driving I-49 whenever possible on long trips, and I'm not the only one. I'd love to see miles and miles of advertising for alligator farms in Natchitoches and the boats in Shreveport rather than -- tree, tree, tree....

    Ok - back to South Dakota. I pulled off and went to the Lacota Sioux Museum. Unfortunately, I don't remember what town I was in. Anyway - it was a very well done museum with lots of displays about the Lacota people, their way of life, and how it changed with the influx of European Americans. It was a very well done museum that stated facts without trying to make white visitors like me feel some sort of guilt for acts committed by my ancestors. The horror was still there, don't get me wrong, but I didn't feel myself getting on the defensive about being white. I hope I'm making some sort of sense here.

    I didn't stop again until I got to the Badlands where it was 107 degrees. Blech. It didn't feel that hot to me, more like mid 90s since the humidity wasn't there, but I sure did burn in the little bit of time I was out of my car.
    The Badlands are definitely bad. I stopped and took a few pictures outside the park at just how delolate the place was.

    However, there is a treat at the Ranch Store just outside the parks entrance off of Highway 240. They have the "Worlds Biggest Prarie Dog" and a prarie dog colony outside the store where visitors can feed the dogs and see them up close and personal. I had a nice chat with the owner of the store about the state of teaching in America (she's a teacher when she's not a prarie dog wrangler) and the lack of personal blame of the American youth. Very nice lady, although the conversation took a rather depressing turn.

    The Badlands National Park was beautiful and desolate all at the same time. I took the scenic route through the park along Highway 240 and left the park in Wall, South Dakota. It was just too hot to even contemplate getting out on those rocks and looking around. Although, I did get on some and then remembered that I have issues with getting down from high places and about killed myself trying to get off a ledge. Luckily I came out of that idiotic moment with only a scrape on my leg.

    Next stop was Wall Drug in Wall, SD. It was a touristy place, as expected, but I had to be able to say that I'd been there. I think the signs all along the Interstate were better than the actual store. It, however, was the place where my camera finally decided to die. It had been acting up all day long, but I'd been able to fiddle with it and get it to work again. I believe the last picture on the camera is of my sitting on a giant Jackalope at Wall Drug. I guess the scene was just too much for it.

    It's been interesting travelling the country alone. For some reason when people find out I'm by myself they either give my some kind of encouragement like "good for you", warn me about all the nasty people out there and tell me be safe while giving me a look like I'm some kind of naughty girl, or they tell me how sad it is that I'm all alone. The latter is what the people that took my picture on the Jackalope had to say. I really wonder if a guy travelling along would get the same comments. Any takers on this one?

    I got back on the Interstate and went on to Custer, SD - my stop for the next couple of days. Before turning in for the night I went out and stopped at the Crazy Horse Monument. I can't describe this. It was a surprise on the same level as my new found love of corn in Iowa. It was almost a religious experience. I don't know why. I did the little tour through the visitors center and found myself in a room where Native American artists were creating their crafts. I was intrigued with a man that was making his own flutes and sometimes playing them. I wound up buying a tape from him after talking to him for quite a while about the timbre of a flute as compared to a cello and the ranges of each instrument. After this I found myself sitting on my car in the parking lot just staring at the monument and able to breathe properly and with no pain for the first time in days.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default No pain for days?

    Quote Originally Posted by lhuff View Post
    It's been interesting travelling the country alone. For some reason when people find out I'm by myself they either give my some kind of encouragement like "good for you", warn me about all the nasty people out there and tell me be safe while giving me a look like I'm some kind of naughty girl, or they tell me how sad it is that I'm all alone. The latter is what the people that took my picture on the Jackalope had to say. I really wonder if a guy travelling along would get the same comments. Any takers on this one?
    I think I would read that as just being roadtrip envy.... I really enjoy the pacing and solitude of a solo trip.
    I was intrigued with a man that was making his own flutes and sometimes playing them. I wound up buying a tape from him after talking to him for quite a while about the timbre of a flute as compared to a cello and the ranges of each instrument.
    Sounds like a pretty cool "roadtrip" moment to me!
    After this I found myself sitting on my car in the parking lot just staring at the monument and able to breathe properly and with no pain for the first time in days.
    Have I missed something -- what is the source of the pain?


  9. #9
    RoadTrippers A & R Guest


    Reads like a teriffic trip.

    We stopped off in Deadwood once.
    Dad said no way he'd pay $1 for a beer or 20 cents for a pack of Marlboro.

    The Wall Drug Signs rope ya in don't they?
    I think pirate flags and rubber shrunken heads were the big item on sale back when.
    I'm a sucker for roadside oddities, love 'um.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Day 5

    It rained during the night in Custer and this was the first that it has rained on my vacation. Good for me, but bad for this area of the country. It's so dry and there were wild fires all around the Black Hills. I wish we could share some of the rain that's hitting Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. My parents have reported that it's rained every day since I've been gone and it had rained every day for at least 4 weeks before I left. Blech.

    I got to the Jewel Cave at 8:00 am to find out that the visitors center didn't open until 9, but that I needed a reservation to get on a tour. There was an older couple there also trying to get in early for a tour and the man figured out that they were in the visitors center, just not opening up. So he ferretted around and found their number and got himself a reservation for the 9:20 tour and gave me the number as well. I should had checked what tour I was signing up for. I though I was getting the short 20 minute easy tour. No. I had managed to sign myself up for the 1 hour 20 minute Scenic tour with over 700 stairs. It turned out to probably be the better choice since I got to see so much. And it didn't hurt that the Park Ranger leading to tour was really cute and funny even if he was a little young for me.

    Next stop was the National Woodcarving Museum. This was a very interesting tour that I had read about on this site. I ran into my friends from the Jewel Cave again. They said that they thought that I probably knew what I was doing so they were going to follow my route for the day. Really nice people from San Diego on their first big trip since he'd retired in January. They'd been on the road since June 22nd and still had another 2 weeks to go.

    By this time I had a pounding headache. I'm allergic to Pine Trees (not good since I live in Louisiana), but these were new and different pine trees and my sinuses were going haywire. I stopped and got food from a Dairy Queen (not my first choice, but everywhere else was full to the gills) and went back to my hotel room. Perfect timing, I took lots of allergy and pain medicine and got to see the last 17 laps of the F-1 Race and see my Ferrari boys come out on top. Yay!

    With my headache a little better I went to the Wind Cave where I promptly ran into my newfound friends again. Feeling adventorous I signed up for their "moderately strenuous" tour as well called the Fairgrounds Tour. Our guide was a really funny girl from South Dakota who was very good with all the kids on this tour.

    Two caves in one day. Almost enough for even me. I think I'd live in a cave if I could. Something about the dark, the dripping water, the constant cool temperature. Wonderful.

    I ended the day at Rushmore. This was a bit of a let down for me. I don't know if it's because I've seen it so many times in photes or what. Or maybe it's the "perfection" of the faces. Crazy Horse looks like a real man who has lead a hard life out on the plains. The Presidents look too perfect, I think. Not like they would have really looked after dealing with the stress that comes with the presidency and age. Still cool, but just not what I was expecting.

    Back to my hotel and bed. I decided to cut my reservation short and head out the next morning and give myself 5 days to work my way south.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name