Friday, June 24, 2016


Besides the Black Hills, another spot we wanted to return to is Shipshewana, Indiana. We spent ten days here last time and I found it beautiful and peaceful. This time we're stopping for four days, just to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a little Amish cooking.

We spent a night in Geneseo, Illinois on the way here, staying at the Geneseo Campground. When we stopped in June 2014 there were so few RVs in the park that we parked our monster truck in the site next to us...this June the campground was near full. It's a quiet campground on the Hennepin Canal with gravel pull-thrus, large shade trees and wide sites. We were glad to see how much their business has increased.

Although we don't usually unhook on an overnight we did this time since we needed a few groceries. The adage is never shop when you're we didn't. Before hitting the grocery store we tried Culver's, a mid-western burger and shake chain. It's fast food but more like Steak n' Shake or Five Guys rather than McDonald's. The burgers are fresh cooked and good and your order is delivered to your table when it's ready. They arrived with two samples of their fresh-made custard ice cream.

The next morning we were on our way to Shipshewana and back to the Shipshewana South Campground. Still a nice campground though our site is not near the horses this time. There's lots to see in this area and we saw a good bit on our first are links to my posts Post 1Post 2Post 3 on the campground and some of the things we did in 2014.

Our visit was only a few days this time and we spent more time relaxing and less time sightseeing. We did take the opportunity to visit the Shipshewana Flea Market  (think rain kept us away last time). It's huge, something like 900 vendors. I think we could go every week all summer and still not see it all!

We tried Ben's Bakery which we liked better than the Rise and Shine that we visited last trip. The Peach Fritters are awesome! We also returned to the Blue Gate Restaurant and to 5 and 20 Country Kitchen.The server we like so well on our 2014 visit, Ida, still works there. We also squeezed in a visit to Yoder's Meat and Cheese and bought more steaks and burgers.

This is an area we'll enjoy coming back to again and again.

If You Build It, He Will Come...

Our next stop was Kieler, Wisconsin, a tiny town of 500 just across the Mississippi from Dubuque, Iowa.

The countryside is beautiful and I found a lovely campground called the Rustic Barn Campground and RV Park. My plan was to spend a few days there but I was only able to get a reservation for two nights so we made the best of it. It takes its name from the antique barn that houses the office. It's one of a few remaining old barns with no internal supports still standing. (Wasn't able to get a decent photo of the barn) There is also a beautiful antique chapel on the grounds with wooden pews and stained glass windows. The sites are gravel with grass in between, full hook-ups and shade trees. We had a long pull-thru which was not too wide but most of the sites are wide back-ins, some with patios. The sewers have just recently bee added and some are too high but they are in the process of fixing them. There are a number of permanent rigs and they are very well-kept.

We were starving when we arrived at the campground and Gooches Greenhouse Tavern was recommended. It's a small bar/restaurant with pretty good food and prices from another era. Jack had a bacon cheeseburger with fries and a soft drink and I had a fried chicken basket with sour cream and chive fries. I've never heard of sour cream and chive fries but they sounded good (they were). Our bill for the meal was $16!

Just west of Dubuque, Iowa lies a place I've always wanted to see...The Field of Dreams. I fell in love with that movie the first time I saw it and never tire of watching it.

Hmm, first Diamond Lil's in Deadwood and now the Field of Dreams...almost seems I have a Kevin Costner thing going on!

We drove out there and the road leading up to it is just as long as it looks at the end of the movie when you see cars lined up for miles. The house is lived in and can only be viewed from the outside. We were able to walk the field, walk the bases, sit in the bleachers and check out the corn. It's early in the season so the corn was only about knee high. We also visited the tiny gift shop. I'm not usually big on buying souvenirs but I bought a t-shirt...unheard of for me as I don't wear t-shirts. Jack bought me a program that has all kinds of interesting stories and photos of the field and the filming of the movie. He got a t-shirt too but that's not surprising as he often buys (and wears) t-shirts from places we've visited.

On the way back to our campground in Wisconsin, would you believe...Pizza Ranch in Dubuque! Love that peach dessert pizza!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Corn Palace and Some Scary Storms...

We left the Black Hills heading East on I-90 and crossed from Mountain Time to Central Time. The landscape of South Dakota is beautiful. As we drove throughout the state, I noticed the small diamond shaped signs along the road. They put them up anywhere there has been a traffic fatality. The sign says "Think" on one side and "Why Die?" on the other side. They definitely do make you think.

One of the ubiquitous Wall Drug signs
Our first stop was in Mitchell, SD and the R & R Campground located behind the Super 8 Motel. We stayed there in 2014 and liked it and the Passport America rate made it a great deal. It's still a good place to stop but they are no longer Passport America and the rate with a Good Sam discount wasn't quite as good but it's still a good stopover spot. They do still give out a bottle of cold water to each guest as you check in. A welcome gesture when the temps are ninety degrees.

Mitchel is noted for having "the world's only Corn Palace" but fixing a broken closet rod in our fifth wheel took priority over seeing the Corn Palace in 2014. This visit we made it. Well, it's different but it's basically just a small convention center with lots of corn paraphernalia. The big draw is the cool murals on the outside of the building made completely of corn. They create new murals each year, done in late summer/early fall when the corn crop is ready. They're impressive.

From Mitchell we continued traveling East on I-90 into Minnesota. We stopped for a night at the Albert Lea/Austin KOA. It was a convenient overnight and the staff was very friendly and helpful but it was a bit pricey, as KOAs can be. We kept getting storm warnings and tornado watches on our phones as we were driving and were getting concerned. When we first arrived and settled in to our campsite there was a little sporadic rain but the skies looked okay...until they didn't. The clouds rolled in, the sky got dark and the rains came, along with winds and hail. It stormed for a couple of hours, then the sky lightened up just in time for a pretty sunset around 8:45.

The next morning...

We were thankful that no tornadoes materialized and glad to be moving on in the morning.

Crazy Horse...

The first time we visited the Black Hills we were told by a number of people to be sure to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial but somehow we just never made it there. This time it was at the top of the list. It is about sixty-five miles from our campground to Crazy Horse, a good day trip...and we enjoyed the sights along the way.

Just wish we'd stopped to buy a bottle of Red Ass Rhubarb Wine!

If, like me, you don't know how the Crazy Horse Memorial came to be, here's a little background.

In 1939 Korczak Ziolkowski, a sculptor from New England came to the Black Hills to help with Mount Rushmore. He also won first prize that year at the New York World's Fair for a marble portrait he'd done. Chief Standing Bear read about him in the news and invited him to create a mountain tribute to the North American Indians. Chief Crazy Horse was chosen for the monument by the Native American Indians because he was considered to be a warrior without equal and because the American Indians today believe his short life paralleled the tragic history of the North American Indians since their lands were invaded by the white man.

Click all photos to enlarge

Korcazk Ziolkowski and Chief Standing Bear - Reunion of Survivors of the Battle of Little Big Horn

The mountain carving is impressive but the history is what really caught my attention as I've always had an interest in the plight of the North American Indians. The movie you see when you first enter is full of interesting history and is even captioned so I was able to understand all the dialogue. After that we toured the museum, the sculptor's studio, the log home Korczak Ziolkowski built for himself and his family (he lived the first five years in a tent), and the gift shop (of course). I fell in love with some pottery but didn't have $500 to take it home! We also saw a cool demonstration of hoop dancing by some Native American girls.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is the world's largest mountain carving in progress. The sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski started the carving in 1948 and married his wife in 1950. They had ten children, six of whom work on the mountain today along with a some of their twenty-three grandchildren. You can learn more on their website.
We finished our day with dinner at the Laughing Waters Restaurant on the grounds. The profits go to helping fund the Crazy Horse Project.

Seeing Crazy Horse was well worth the one hundred thirty mile round trip.