You may remember from the last post that we arrived at our “Plan B” location on Friday, October 10. Our campsite at the American Creek Campground in Chamberlain, South Dakota, was perched at the edge of a bluff overlooking the Missouri River. There was even a stairway down to the river next to our site. Beautiful, mature trees provided shade, and we had full hookups, plus cable. What more could we ask for? We planned to stay through the weekend so Tim could watch football on Sunday.
This could not have been a more perfect place to spend our fifth wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that Tim and I have been married for five years. In some respects, it feels like our wedding was just yesterday, yet in others, it feels like we’ve always been married. It’s been the best time of my life.
The setting was perfect, and so was the weather, at least for the first two days. For the first time since we’ve been back on the road, we could even take our chairs out. It seems that either cold weather or rain or mosquitos always prevented us from enjoying the outdoors during the last month.
|It Was Nice to be Able to Fully Enjoy the View from Our Site|
|Kitty Liked to Spend Time Outdoors|
During the days, we continued to explore the Native American Scenic Byway and the Lewis and Clark Trail. It turns out that the most enlightening site along the byway happened to be located in Chamberlain. The Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center is a relatively unknown museum that does an amazing job of telling the story of the lives of the Northern Plains Indians, their cultures, traditions, values and history. The exhibits include not only artifacts, but also beautiful examples of the art of the Lakota people.
|Camp Circle - In the Beginning|
|Fetterman Pictograph Robe|
The museum is located on the campus of St. Joseph’s Indian School, which was founded by the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in 1927. An exhibit on the history of the school does a good job of presenting the sad history of the attempt to assimilate Indian children into European-American culture by removing them from their parents, stripping them of their native clothing and identities and forbidding them to speak their native language. St. Joseph’s has come a long way from that model and now incorporates Lakota culture into daily activities at the school. The museum is a part of this effort to embrace cultural traditions. Our stop at the museum was most certainly an eye-opening experience.
Chamberlain is also the location of a small Lewis and Clark Information Center, which is noted for its unusual architecture. A replica of the 55-foot keelboat used by the Corps of Discovery is incorporated into the building, with a portion of the boat actually protruding from the building. This creates a balcony that provides a view of the Missouri River.
|Is That a Keelboat?|
|View from the Balcony|
While Tim watched his first Denver Broncos game of the year, I took a day trip to Mitchell, South Dakota, to see the Corn Palace, a great example of folk art. Mitchell’s first Corn Palace was built in 1892 to provide a canvas for settlers to display their agricultural bounty. The present Corn Palace is actually the third building to bear the name, and although the front is fenced off because of the current renovation, the charm of the building is still evident. The façade of the building is literally decorated with ears of corn and other grains. Each year a new theme is chosen, and the outside of the Corn Palace is striped and redecorated with corn and grains. Approximately 275,000 ears of corn are cut in half lengthwise and nailed to the building following designs created by local artists. Most of the murals were completed by the time of my visit, but it was also fun to see the ones that had not yet been started – it really was “corn (not paint)-by-number” decorating. Other permanent corn murals are located inside this multi-use facility that is the center of community activity.
|The World's Only Corn Palace|
|Murals Decorate the Facade of the Corn Palace|
|Who Knew You Could Paint with Corn?|
|Murals Decorate the Interior of the Corn Palace|
We enjoyed our stay in Chamberlain so much that we extended our visit. We weren’t quite ready to tear ourselves away from our scenic water view and the dramatic sunsets over the Missouri River.
|Lewis and Clark Likely Witnessed a Sunset Like This|