86. Across the Wide Missouri

Monday, July 20, 2020

Today was errand and chore day. My first stop of the morning was at Freightliner Truck a couple miles away where I picked up a replacement chrome/stainless center hub for my left aluminum front wheel. Having the prior one pop off a week ago due to an encounter with a pothole left an ugly looking wheel.

From there I headed to Dakota Post which is your mail forwarding service and my ‘home’. Dakota Post, in addition to taking all my mail, emailing to me daily a pic of each envelope received, trashing, opening/scanning or holding until I request forwarding of same, also provides me with a legal address. With that address, I can open bank accounts etc., get a drivers license, register to vote, buy vehicles or boats and generally do all the things that ‘normal’ people do – things that are hard to do if you tell people you live under a bridge. My new Montana license plates for the motorhome were waiting for me.

Next stop was at a auto parts store to pickup bolts or screws to attach the front plate as the motorhome had never had front plates before. My plates are permanent meaning I don’t need to do an annual registration. A bonus was that the permanent plates are a light silver/blue, rather than dark navy blue, and they look better with the motorhome color scheme.

Only two miles from downtown and the Minnehaha County bldg, I next headed there to register to vote. No longer a FL resident, I can’t vote in FL. Three years ago I was not allowed to register in SD because I didn’t have any rent, utility bill receipt etc from Minnehaha County to show them. This time I was ready having stayed at the County Fairgrounds Campground and saved my 2 day receipt. So I get there, am first in line and find that they no longer require any such proof. In three minutes I fill in the registration form and the Absentee Ballot Request form and I’m on my way.

Next I head to Walmart for a few groceries and a round 12” electric frying pan. I tend to not use the propane stove. Instead I use my Instant Pot even as a frypan to sauté. This frying pan will work better for eggs, bacon, hot dogs and the like. I’ve resisted buying a propane or charcoal grill. I had one for three years on the Winnebago and probably used it a half dozen times. I don’t think we even had one in our prior 14 years fulltiming on our prior rigs.

Next on my agenda was Walgreens to pick up prescriptions, nine of them. All are now consolidated in one pharmacy rather in 3 scattered along my route beginning with the one that still was in Marineland, FL. I don’t know why as it doesn’t really matter where you have your Rx’s but it just feels “tidy”. Last was a visit to Verizon where I intended to switch my iPhone and iPad over fron T Mobile. T Mobile has not had good coverage. I found that even though my devices were unlocked, I couldn’t switch. Seems that devices sold by TMobile and AT&T use something called a CDMA radio antenna to communicate with a tower while Verizon use GSM and they are not compatible, or so I’m told. There is dual antenna tech and my phone is a XR and iPad a 3rd gen iPad Pro and I would have guessed both would be up to date. Think I’ll try again at another city.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Headed west this morning driving I 90. My intention was to camp at a COE campground in the Missouri River. Too late for me to make reservations online but the website shows lots of unreserved ‘first come, first served’ sites.

I did a small, maybe 10 mile total, detour off I-90 to downtown Mitchell, SD. I’ve done this probably 5-6 times before. Mitchell is the site of THE CORN PALACE. The Corn Palace is a two story, one block square facility built in the ‘20s to promote SD ag industry. It is a tourist attraction drawing 500,000 people annually to this town of 3,000. The exterior facade, a mural, is changed each year. The entire facade consists of various colors of ears of corn applied to the walls to form murals. To think this is stripped off, redesigned and redone each year is stunning. The interior, not so much. Booths and food sales designed to part you from your $. I didn’t bother to go inside. Just parked the rig at the curb so I could get out and take some pix.

Amazing that this building is ‘painted’ each year with different color varieties of corn. Borders formed with dried corn leaves, husks and tassels. The design and its execution is really quite something

‘Leaving Mitchell, I got back on I-90 and headed towards Chamberlain, SD. For those of you who have traveled I-90, whether East or West bound, you’ll recognize what I’m about to describe. Unfortunately since you’re on an 80mph interstate, there’s not a good opportunity to take a pic or two. From either direction, you suddenly crest a high hill and your breath is taken away by at least a 10 mile vista in front of you as the road gradually makes a miles’ long descent into the Missouri Valley and across the wide Missouri River. Rolling hills to either side. The Missouri sort of marks a transition in the landscape. East is primarily farming and pretty flat. West is more of a ranching flavor and the beginnings of the Badlands/foothills type of terrain.

As far as the eye can see

About 10 miles west of Chamberlain I finally was able to get off I-90 an head north along the River basin on a two lane state highway (yay)and arrived in 15 miles at the Big Bend Dam – basically in the middle of nowhere (this post is taking hours due to virtually no cell signal and absolutely no WiFi) . If you look at the map above in the upper left you can see the Missouri as it makes a big loop (big bend). The actual distance traveling the loop on the water is 21 miles. The distance however between where the loop starts and ends is one mile. On the East end of the loop is the Big Bend Dam (sorry boaters, no lock). There is a Corps of Engineers campground without any utilities upriver from the dam and another, Left Trace Campground, with paved sites and electric, downriver at the base of the dam. It appears to be a big fishing area based on boat traffic, the size of the boat ramp and parking and particularly based on the line of fishermen with coolers waiting their turn at a very modern stainless steel fish cleaning station. I snagged a 50 amp site on a peninsula for overnight with a great view of the river. I like!

Hard to believe you can get a site like this for a Ten Spot and still get a Buck in change. Thank you federal Old Fart Pass! And thanks to a camper who cancelled today.
Downstream from the dam. Beginning of the campground area visible on the far bank.
Looking from the dam down to the campground

Upstream from the dam
Road over the dam

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