Monday, April 24, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, SD



As we left Mitchell SD we had planned on making a few short visits to sites along the route home.  It turned out that we made only one stop, other than parking lot boondocking until we got back to Tulsa a few days earlier than we had scheduled.

The one stop we made was at Sioux Falls, IA.  Again this was part of our 2006 travels, but a place we enjoyed so we decided to stop, snap some photos and have a meal before we moved on down the road.

Because we were pulling the fifth wheel behind us we used the designated rv camping spot which was a little bit of a walk from across the road from Falls Park, but the weather was pleasant and so was the walk.

As we toured Falls Park we saw interesting statues



 and of course the falls. I thought about posting several of the great photos Gary took, but then I realized he had taken some great videos that would show the beauty of the park better.  To view the video click here.

The falls have a long and detailed history best told on this website better than me paraphrasing it.

The volume of water was lower when we were there this trip than in 2006.  Yet the falls and the park were beautiful to see.

There are ruins from days gone by on the grounds,






as well as a modern observation tower that gives you a wonderful 360 view of the entire park.



We were there about lunch time and had not packed our usual picnic lunch to eat on the grounds because we knew from past experience they had a decent restaurant on site.  Lunch was good and the weather was so nice we choose to eat outside. 

I had the bbq baked potato and salad and Gary had a Cuban Sandwich. 



Of course, being the folks we are we spotted the usual ducks on the water periodically and this little fellow in the grass.



After the visit to the falls we headed on toward home, where we would stay at the Tulsa RV Ranch.




FAMIL-E-FUN CAMPGROUND, MITCHELL, SD – Camp 19



After our brief stay in Wall, SD we headed more to the east to another destination we had enjoyed so much in 2006.  Our destination was Mitchell,SD.  

Our chosen campground this trip was Famil-E-Fun Campground
We enjoyed our stay there.  The couple running the park were friendly and helpful.  The facilities were all clean and well maintained.

There was free wi-fi in the laundry room that extended to the benches outside of the laundry room.  The park manager guided us to our spot where we were able to pull thru with ease.  Complete hook-ups with 50 amp service were the order of the day.  Once discounts and taxes were included our rate was $27.50 per night for the four nights we were there.

It was a little more than the national and state parks, but then it had more to offer.  We felt the rate was reasonable for the accommodations.

The sites are set up where they are double front to back sites, but during the off season they park only one rig per site, which makes it a pull thru.



Once again we were greeted with a beautiful sunset.  It seemed like everyone in the campground was out snapping photos of it.








There were three sites we wanted to visit in the area.  The Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead, the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, and of course the Corn Palace.

We had previously visited the last two in 2006, but enjoyed them so much we decided to visit them again.  Of course they will each get their own write up to help keep this post from being too long.

All three were an easy drive from Famil-E-Fun Campground.  The expressway get on is not far from the campground, but traffic noises were not a problem.  It worked out to be the perfect four night stay spot for us while we were there.

If we should venture to Mitchell again we both agree that this would probably be the place we would stay. 

LAURA INGALLS WILDER HOMESTEAD, DE SMET, SD



I doubt there are many who do not know who Laura Ingalls Wilder, aka: Half Pint, was.  The “Little House on the Prairie” books and tv series have been popular for generations.

This is the second of the Ingalls homestead we have visited in all our years of travel together.  The first was just a few buildings, no interpreter and very few information kiosks. 

This one in De Smet, SD was far from that.  It is an interactive location and well worth the rough ride down the dirt road to get to it. 

We knew we were in for a fun and interesting day when one of the first things we saw from the parking lot were people riding in a covered wagon.


The modern guest services center, complete with modern facilities should you need them, is at the top of the hill near the parking lot and that is your first stop.  They have a nice gift shop there where you can buy the usual gift stop stuff including “brag rags” as I call the t-shirts/sweat shirts I purchase as my souvenir as we travel. Of course I had to have one.  I adored all the Laura Ingalls books as a child, including “Farmer Boy”  which most people do not connect with the Little House Books, but it is the story of “Manly” Wilder as a child.



Once you pay your $12 fee per person to enter you are given a map on how the place is set up and are set free to wander the grounds as you wish.

We chose to start at the interpretive center near the welcome center and work our way around the grounds in a clockwise direction. To do so we walked past this watch tower.

The interpretive center contained some of the history of the Ingalls family, a covered wagon, excerpts from some of her books and photos.  It was interesting to a Laura Ingalls fan such as myself.





Just below the hill from the interpretive center are two styles of structures, both are earth sheltered, one being a soddy such as the Ingalls had lived in for awhile.






The other was an one room cabin similar to another home they had lived in.










From the soddy you climb back up the small hill to a view of the barn, house and stable that Pa built for Ma in stages.






This is the area the interactive activities start.  The farm does have animals, which you are allowed to interact with.  One group of teens were busy petting the animals in the barn as we walked by and a cat watched them carefully through its own private window.





Examples of life during that era are everywhere on the grounds.





As we entered the different buildings employees filled us in on the history of the building or building replica.  They explained how the house was built in stages, how various items were made and used and answered questions.

















At the stable area you can learn how rope and corn cob dolls were made by doing it yourself. A visual demonstration of how long it took to grind wheat to even make a single biscuit and a lesson on making hay knots. 

If you have read the series you know the family got snowed in with no firewood and they had to knot hay to keep warm until the menfolk  got home.

To see the lessons given on site on these skills you can view our video here .
.
 You get to take the product of your labors home with you.




This is also where you get to opportunity to drive a cart, ride a pony or catch the covered wagon to go to school.




At the school you are in a one room school house and are given a lesson on how classes were taught.


Once class is over you ride the covered wagon back to the stable/garage.  There is a church off in the distance as well, but it was near closing time so we opted to not walk the long distance to the church.

In the various photos you might have caught glimpses of covered wagon like structures other than the covered wagon you ride to the school.  These are overnight bungalows that you can rent by the night to stay on site.  There were a few families there when we were that had done just that and said they were comfortable, but basic.


If you are a fan of Little House on the Prairie you will enjoy this location, or at least we did.