RAGBRAI – Days 4,5 & 6

I haven’t had a good internet connection for a couple of days, so I’m catching up on the ride now. The day four weather forecast Wednesday morning was not promising. It called for thunderstorms – possibly severe. Looking at the Radar Express app on my smartphone, I could see a line of heavy thunderstorms just west of us and it was moving east. Donna and Jeff Spencer decided to take a day off and not chance riding in what could turn out to be dangerous conditions. Geoff Harrison and Tom decided to go for it. They took off before 6am and hammered eastward to try and outrun the storm. So, team RV There Yet? was split up on Wednesday.

We headed out from Clear Lake before 7am and made a 46-mile drive to Charles City. The bike route for the day was 57.5 miles. We went to a high school that was identified as the main campground. When we arrived there it was chaotic as RVs were trying to exit and enter at the same time while other RVs stopped in the parking area. It turned out the organizers wanted to only have tent campers there. We were told we should go to the KMart parking lot.

Up to this point, the RV camping had been organized pretty well. Trying to accommodate the number of riders and support vehicles of this event in small towns is a logistical nightmare. The crew at KMart wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of RVs. It was every man for himself. We found a level spot that would allow us to exit without too much hassle and had our three rigs lined up.

A fifth-wheel trailer parked next to me and the woman driving it said she was worried about being able to get out in the morning. I told her we planned to leave before 7am and she should have plenty of room to maneuver once we were out. Then she told me one of the crew directing the parking said he might have to put someone lengthwise across our respective bows. This would block us all in. When she told him we needed to able to leave in the morning he said, “Yeah, everyone will leave in the morning.”

What he didn’t seem to understand was not everyone leaves at the same time. That’s why he was still trying to find space for people two hours after we arrived. We put our chairs out in the area in front of our rigs to keep the area clear.

Geoff and Tom rode hard and they made it to Charles City ahead of the storm. I think Donna made the right choice to take the day off though, I don’t think she could safely ride the pace they rode and would have ended up exhausted and possibly caught by high winds, lightning and heavy rain. The number of riders out was way down from the previous days. Where we were parked we only caught the edge of the storm cells. I could see the severe weather around us on the weather radar.

Charles City is called the “Hump Before the Hills.” It was hump day and eastern Iowa gets hilly from there to the Mississippi River. Fred had flank steak marinating in his special sauce and Jeff grilled it – we had corn on the cob to go along with it and enjoyed another great meal together.

Storm moving off to the east

Deb Spencer and I looked at the route laid out for vehicles to get from Charles City to Cresco on Thursday. The route looked fine if you were leaving from the high school, but we were across town at KMart. It would require us to go through the center of town with heavy traffic and cross the bike route which can be difficult as a line of bikes are streaming down the road. We mapped an alternate route which worked out great. We looped around town on US218 and found IA9 that took us all the way to Cresco.

Heading out for day five

We went to the county fairgrounds. When we pulled up at the entrance, the girl directing traffic in the street asked me if I had a reservation. Uh-oh. When I told her “No,” she said I would have to go to the dry camping area. Whew! That’s what we were planning to do anyway.

We’ve figured out that if we leave in the vehicles before 7am, we can reach the day’s destination early enough to be ahead of most of the support vehicles and snag choice camping spots. This worked out great at the fairgrounds as we found a nice level grassy area and parked together. Vehicles kept arriving after us and within 45 minutes, the place was packed and people were pulling in then turning around to find another place for the night.

I got my mountain bike out of the trailer and then pulled out my Orbea road bike. Our plan was to ride to the Iowa Craft Beer tent later and meet up with the rest of the team. I haven’t had my road bike out in a while and I had to change the tube in the front tire – the presta valve was leaking. Deb was going to ride my mountain bike and I would ride my road bike. Then we found out the beer tent was a lot farther away than we thought. We bagged the plan.

When I saw a text from Jeff saying they were about seven miles from town, I rode my mountain bike downtown. I saw Geoff and Tom come by and shortly after that I found Jeff and Donna. I led them to our site – the fairgrounds are fairly large and by then RVs were scattered all over the place. The volunteers were directing riders to the south end of the fairgrounds – we were on the north end.

One of Thursday’s highlights was Lance Armstrong riding the course. A couple of NASCAR racers were on the ride as well – Jimmie Johnson and another that I can’t remember now. I saw a Featherlite Coach built on a Prevost XLII chassis in the fairgrounds. It was decorated with University of Iowa Hawkeye logos and the license plate was Coach1. I thought it was maybe an Iowa Hawkeyes football coach, so I introduced myself and inquired. It turns out he was a fan, not a coach. His license plate was a reference to his number one coach.

When I mentioned his XLII double slide chassis, he asked if I was a Prevost owner – he said only a Prevost guy would recognize the difference between an XL and an XLII. I told him I was an RV geek – I knew the XLII didn’t have the visible rivets of an XL.

Featherlite Vantare on an Prevost XLII chassis

There are more school buses converted to bicycle support vehicles than I ever imagined. We seem to have gotten into a rhythm with other RV support vehicles that make an early start and arrive at the next destination around the same time as us. But I still see a schoolie here and there that I haven’t seen before.

Colorful schoolie from Georgia

The temperature was cooler on Thursday and everyone enjoyed a great ride. Well, almost everyone. Jeff and Donna witnessed a crash involving three riders just ahead of them. The riders were down and police on site called for an an ambulance. We’ve seen a few crashes – it can happen in a heartbeat when riders are in a pack and someone gets distracted.

This morning we were up and ready to roll at the usual time.

Team RV There Yet? day six

We’ve been driving on two-lane highways through rural farmland all week and today was no different. We encountered some rolling hills, but when we arrived at the fairgrounds in Waukon our elevation was about the same as when were in Cresco and Charles City before that – about 1,300 feet above sea level. Once again we snagged primo parking with an easy exit plan for tomorrow.

Primo parking spot

We were able to track the progress of the riders through instant messaging. When Donna and Jeff left Postville – the last town before Waukon – Deb, Fred and I headed out on our bicycles. Our plan was to meet them at the craft beer tent – we figured it was about 5-7 miles away and we should arrive around the same time a Jeff and Donna. Tom and Geoff were ahead of them.

I rode my Orbea road bike, Deb took my Specialized mountain bike and Fred rode his Trek hybrid. Our route shortcutted the final leg of the riders course and had rolling hills. It was also longer than we expected – about eight miles. We made it there and managed to meet up with everyone.

It was warm out and everyone wanted a spot in the shade.

Shade tree

Tom, Fred, Jeff, Deb and Donna in our shady spot

I had a cup of Des Moines IPA,Donna had a hefeweizen – she also had a bacon and blue cheese bratwurst. The ride back was a little harder – it had more uphill sections than downhill and we were riding into a headwind.

Tomorrow is the final day of RAGBRAI XLV – it’s also has the most hills on this year’s course. I have a couple more pictures to upload, but my internet connection is so poor I’m giving up and hoping I can get this post published. After Donna completes the course tomorrow we’ll be on the road – so I won’t post again until Sunday at the earliest.

 

 

RAGBRAI – Day Three

We finished the day Monday with a group dinner. Jeff grilled pork steaks and everyone brought a side dish. We had a great time telling stories as we sat in the shade next to Jeff and Deb’s rig. We called it a day around 9pm, but Donna was still keyed up and watched an episode of House of Cards before hitting the sack.

Tuesday morning was another early riser day. The RV There Yet? riders were on their way around 6:40am and our three support RVs hit the road only a few minutes later.

Ready for day three

Once again Deb led the way out of Algona, Iowa followed by me and then Fred. We had an easy route – we hit US18 and went east. Fred needed to fuel up. We had a little over 50 miles to cover and figured we would stop when we saw a convenient gas station. About halfway along our route Deb spied a gas station and pulled to the side of the highway just before a four-way stop sign. I went across the intersection and stopped on the other side.

When I saw Fred pulling back onto the highway, I accelerated away from the side of the road with him right behind me. I thought Deb was a few cars behind him. The route I mapped had us turn south before we entered the destination town of Clear Lake, Iowa. We ran around the west end of the lake, then followed South Shore Drive to the Clear Lake State Park where Deb and I had reservations.

When I pulled into the park and stopped at the registration kiosk, Deb was right behind me and Fred was behind her. This was puzzling to me, but I didn’t ask how that happened as I was preoccupied with asking the park ranger what I needed to do to claim our site. The reservation website said check-in was at 4pm – we were there at 8am. A 4pm check-in doesn’t make any sense to me – who wants to check-in that late and then hit the road with a 3pm check-out? Anyway, he just told me to proceed to our reserved site.

Since we were there so early, Fred was able to snag a site – they keep about 1/3 of the sites open for drop-ins – not all of the sites are reservable. It turns out that Deb ran a different route – she came through town on the east side of the lake and our entry to the park coincided. Our first stop was at the dump station. It had only been four days for us, but my thinking is dump when convenient and be prepared to dry camp with empty holding tanks and full fresh water – you never know what might come up.

There were two dump stations – I took one and Deb occupied the other. She had a problem with the electric dump valve on their trailer. She knew how to access the problematic valve for the gray water, but didn’t know how to remedy the problem. I came over to help. She phoned Jeff and asked what needed to be done. I could see a manual screw to operate the valve – we just needed to find the correct Allen wrench to turn the mechanism. We got it to work. Meanwhile a couple of other rigs were lined up at the dump station. I did my best to finish up quickly and move to our site.

We had site 153 – this is not a level site. In fact, I don’t think there’s a level site to be found in this park. I jockeyed our coach back and forth through the 70′ pull-through site trying to find the best approximation of level and finally resigned myself to using blocks under the jacks to get us there.

Meanwhile our riders were on the course. It was a windy day with 15-20 mph wind from the southeast gusting higher at times. They were riding a mostly easterly course making for a headwind component. Donna was feeling pretty strong at the start and kept a good pace. They stopped at Wesley about 14 miles from Algona for breakfast.

Biscuits and gravy in Wesley

They continued on battling the wind and split up as Geoff and Tom wanted to hammer through the ride. Jeff and Donna took a break 24 miles in at Britt. Donna went to the Hobo Museum and paid $5  to check it out. She watched a documentary film there and became so engrossed in the story that she stayed for the entire 75-minute production!

Britt also had a Mayberry RFD theme going on – come on now, you remember Mayberry, right?

Aunt Bea and Donna

Jeff and Otis sample a little moonshine in the klink

By the time we’d dumped our tanks and set up, we weren’t too sure about heading back to the meet-up town of Garner. It turned out that Deb had to take care of some business that entailed several lengthy phone calls, so we bagged it. Fred and I took a walk to check out the campground. There is a beach area on the lake that looks nice – we saw some kids swimming but I have to wonder about the water temperature. Later I heard the lake depths are only around 10′, so maybe the water isn’t that cold.

Clear Lake Campground lake access

Deb gave Fred the keys to their GMC Denali truck and we drove into town to see what’s happening. We made a stop at the grocery store then found a bar and grill on the lake for lunch. We dined in the shade just inside the deck overlooking the lake.

View west from The Landing Bar and Grill patio

View north from the patio toward town

Clear Lake, Iowa is a town of about 7,500 residents. The lake is beautiful and the parks are nice. The one thing that probably put this place on the map for anyone over 60 is the Surf Ballroom. On February 2nd, 1959, Buddy Holly played a concert at the packed Surf Ballroom. It was his last.

The story goes that their tour was plagued with mechanical problems on the tour bus and an inadequate heating system in the cold winter weather. When they got to Clear Lake, Buddy Holly had enough. He hired a plane and pilot to fly to their next venue in North Dakota. The plane departed after midnight in the early hours of February 3rd. Fellow band members Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings were supposed to fly with him on the three available seats. Allsup lost his seat on a bet with Richie Valens and Waylon gave up his seat to an ailing Big Bopper. The plane crashed five miles north of US18 killing all aboard. That was the day the music died.

After a difficult day battling wind, Donna rode up to our motorhome around 3pm. Tomorrow’s forecast doesn’t have high winds, but it calls for thunderstorms. We’ll see how that pans out in the morning – will they ride or not?

RAGBRAI – Day Two

We had 30amp electrical service at the fairgrounds in Spencer, Iowa. This made it possible for us to keep the windows closed. I had the rear A/C on when we went to bed and changed the fan setting from Auto to Low. This kept the fan running continuously and the compressor only cycled when the temperature rose above the thermostat setting. This gave us some white noise to drown out the sounds of generators running all around us.

Monday morning we were up early again. The RV There Yet? RAGBRAI team was ready to roll before 6:30am.

RV There Yet? team ready for day two

It was a much cooler morning – about 60 degrees outside. Once the riders were off, we headed out of the fairgrounds with Deb leading the way and Fred following me. Our route for the support vehicles made the 65-mile trip to Algona in less than an hour and half. We started out with light fog over the farmland that burned off along the way. One of the designated support vehicle overnight parking facilities in Algona was at Bishop Garrigan High School. We pulled in just past 8am and found the lot to be nearly empty. Deb snagged a choice spot shaded by trees with easy exit access. I pulled in behind her and Fred parked off to our right across the driveway.

Deb and I parked on the east edge of the lot so we had no one next to us on the driver’s side. Over the next hour or so the lot filled. Four semi tractor trailer rigs with Joe’s Bunkhouse painted on the side of the trailers pulled in. Each trailer is outfitted with with four small rooms and two restrooms. Each room has three bunks on each side – six total per room. One of the drivers told Fred that the bunks rent for $800 for the week of RAGBRAI. If it’s totally occupied, that’s $19,200 income for the week. Everyone that reserves a bunk must book the entire week. If you want the room for yourself, you pay for all six bunks.

Joe’s Bunkhouse

The rear compartment of each trailer was set up for different purposes – some had storage for a large tent, tables and chairs. Dinner is included with the bunk. One of the trailers had two sets of washers and dryers. I saw them washing towels – I don’t know if the renters are able to wash clothing.

Washers and dryers in the rear of this bunkhouse

Deb unhitched their GMC Denali from their fifth-wheel and she drove Fred and I to the meet-up town. Meet-up towns are towns designated along the bicyclist route that are set up with ample parking for support vehicles and volunteers to direct traffic. They are the only places along the riding course where support vehicles should operate along the bike route. In one of the support vehicle lots, I saw the Agents of Fortune bus belonging to Rick that we met in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Support van – lower your standards

Today’s meet-up town was West Bend, Iowa – about 21 miles from Algona. We arrived there around 11:30am and found Jeff and Donna. Tom and Geoff decided to take the optional loop making it a century ride – 100 plus miles for them today!

Main drag through West Bend with most bicyclists walking through

Donna told me that most of the small towns they go through end up with bicycle traffic jams and they usually walk their bikes through. After we had lunch from the food vendors on the street we walked to the north side of town to see the Grotto of Redemption. This Grotto is a shrine – actually a conglomeration of nine Grottos depicting the life of Jesus. It is the largest Grotto in world and also considered to be the most complete collection of minerals, fossils, shells and petrifications in one place. It attracts about 100,000 visitors per year.

Two views from outside the south side of the Grotto

After looking around the Grotto, it was time for Jeff and Donna to get back on their bikes and ride the final 20 miles of a 72-mile ride. It was already after 1pm.

Back at the school, generators were running all around. That’s part of the deal when dry camping at RAGBRAI. Donna and Jeff rolled in just after 3pm. They had headwinds and a long grinding uphill at the end of a long day on the bike.

They’ve covered just about a third of the distance in the first two days. Tomorrow will be a shorter ride of about 52 miles. Donna has been expending a lot of effort trying to keep up with the guys and told them not to worry about her in the coming days. If they truly want to hang back and take it a little easier, she’s happy for the company but she doesn’t want to hold them back. She’s happy to just cruise along and enjoy the sights along the way. That said, she’s feeling good about the pace she’s been able to maintain over the long days.

I’m having fun cruising with the support vehicles. These were my first two days of driving a motorhome without a co-pilot, but it was fine. I’m posting when I can, so my posts may publish in the afternoon, evening or night. The mornings are too busy.

 

RAGBRAI Day One

The start of RAGBRAI was coming on fast on Saturday. If you don’t know what RAGBRAI is, please see my previous post. Donna and Deb Spencer took a walk to town with Jeff and Deb’s wire-haired fox terrier, Sam on Saturday morning. They met up with the rest of Team RV There Yet? at the RAGBRAI expo downtown. I rode the Spyder into town and met up with them around 11am. We wandered around the downtown area and checked out all of the vendor booths.

Orange City has a Dutch heritage – orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family, even though their flag is red, white and blue. The Dutch influence is obvious throughout the town. Streets have Dutch names and many signs are written in the Dutch language.

RAGBRAI Expo tents seen from Windmill Park

We checked out the vendors and had lunch at a place that was named one of the 100 places in Iowa where you must eat before you die –  Woudstra Meats.

Woudstra Meats – Brats to die for

One of the traditions for RAGBRAI is to dip your bicycle tires in the river at the start of the ride and dip them again at the finish in the Mississippi.

Tire dip in Windmill Park

Donna’s getting revved up for the ride

The expo had live music – we saw two stages with bands playing and they were good. At 4pm I went to a presentation for support vehicle drivers and got an idea of what to expect.

The high school parking lot where we’re camped was filled to capacity by Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t too surprising. What surprised me was the grass lot across the street from our location. This was a large grass lot that appeared to be property of a company there. It was empty when we arrived. By Saturday evening it was a tent city!

Tent city

Sunday morning we were up early. I felt well rested – I was so tired when I went to bed Saturday night. Donna had her alarm set for 5:45am . I woke up minutes before it sounded. She had the little rooster crowing again – I love that alarm!

True to form, Jeff Spencer was onsite at 6:30am and Team RV There Yet? was ready to roll. I had the rig ready and was ready to roll out about 10 minutes later. Ozark the cat knew something was up and went into hiding.

It was an easy drive of about 61 miles. I found the fairgrounds with Fred right behind me. At the entrance I was told that I could have electricity and water for $20. I paid for it. Then I went to the northwest area where I was told to go. What I found was a large grass area with electrical pedestals every 100 feet or so. The pedestals had half a dozen 30 amp receptacles. Water spigots were even farther spaced. Half of the grass lot had chalk lined spaces. I went past that to an open grass area and parked next to a power pedestal. I was the only one in this area and hoped I wasn’t breaking rules. Within 30 minutes I had rigs all around me. Most of them didn’t have long enough power cords to reach the pedestals. I couldn’t reach a water spigot.

I found Deb Spencer less than a 100 yards away. After saying hi, I came back and saw a police car behind our coach. I wondered if I was parked illegally. When I walked behind our coach I saw the issue – the short bus with the bull horns we saw in Orange City was parked by us. A rental RV had collided with it. I’m not sure how this happened – there was plenty of open space.

Huh?

I rode the Spyder back along our route to Primghar – the designated meet up town on today’s route. The crazy thing is I got there and parked the Spyder – then I saw a text message from Deb Spencer telling me where Donna was about two blocks away!

The boys taking a break along the way

We found each other and had rib eye sandwiches with Jeff and Tom – eight dollars for a rib eye sandwich, chips and a bottle of water – benefiting the local fire department.

Early lunch in Primghar

I blasted back to the fairgrounds and we waited for our riders to arrive. Deb, Fred and I took chairs into a shady spot and watched riders come by. We had an idea from a couple of text messages where Jeff, Tom, Donna and Geoff were. We saw several interesting bicycles – recumbents and a penny-farthing high wheel bike!

Meanwhile I prepped babyback ribs that Geoff bought in Orange City. Iowa is the place to get first rate pork. I broke out the Traeger. Donna made an Asian cole slaw and cornbread, Deb brought a salad, sweet potatoes, and watermelon, and the guys brought chocolate chip cookies. It was a nice meal to end the day.

Tomorrow is a longer ride of 73 miles. The weather took a turn for the better – Saturday was hot with high humidity but the humidity dropped by the evening. Sunday’s ride had cooler temps by 10 degrees or more, much less humidity and mostly favorable winds. Fingers crossed for this to continue.

 

The Road to RAGBRAI

Our last full day in Sioux Falls was Thursday. I had a busy schedule – first up I rode the Spyder to Madison – 50 miles away. I went west on SD42 and knew I had turn north on SD19 – 456th Street. It was about 20 miles to the first turn. I hadn’t gone more than 10 miles when I crossed 467th Street. I thought, “How can this be? I have more than 10 miles before I reach 456th, but that’s only 10 blocks away.” Then it dawned on me. Outside of the city, the farmland is divided into sections. Each section is 640 acres – a square mile. Each numbered street is a mile apart – there are no subdivisions and city blocks.

Heading north on SD19, I missed a turn and had to ride about three miles of gravel road before I got back on track. In Madison, I visited the office of our mail service and found our registrations and license tabs had arrived. That was a relief – I did’t want to continue to drive on expired plates.

After I got home, Donna and I took turns going out on the Spyder and shopping – we were stocking up for the next 10 days as we cross Iowa. I also organized the trailer and made it ready for travel. Thursday evening we took a walk through the RV park and got a taste of what we’re heading for. A converted bus with 10 bicycles on the roof was in the park. This is a support vehicle for a team of RAGBRAI riders. We talked with the owner – he came from Richmond, Virginia and is participating in his 10th RAGBRAI. The bus was outfitted with seats and storage spaces for 10 riders,  large quantities of beer, water and sports drinks and they were installing USB ports so the riders can charge their devices. The owner is a Blue Oyster Cult fan and the bus has Agents of Fortune stenciled on the side – that was Blue Oyster Cult’s biggest selling album in the ’70s.

Blue Oyster Cult themed support bus

Friday morning we woke up to rain. I deviated from my normal routine and hadn’t removed the windshield cover the day before travel. So I had to store a wet cover in the trailer. I didn’t want to roll it up and store it in a basement compartment like I usually do because it would likely mildew.

We had a short drive of 77 miles to Orange City, Iowa. As we traveled south out of Sioux Falls, we passed by Lennox. I had relatives in the Sioux Falls area – mostly great uncles and aunts – brothers and sisters of my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family. When I was 10 years old, I spent a week on my great uncle Hank’s farm near Lennox. Our route then took us through Canton where my great uncle Ed was sheriff. I spent a week with him and Aunt Sadie on the same trip when I stayed on the farm.

Donna commented on the rolling hills of northern Iowa. The bike ride across Iowa may not be as flat as we envisioned. We came into Orange City from the north. As we rolled through town, we saw preparations underway for the start of RAGBRAI. We didn’t see the turn for the RV parking and had to make a loop around a section of land – once we passed through town we were immediately into farmland on a dirt road.

Our friend and organizer of our team, Jeff Spencer, phoned us. He was at a high school parking lot that was a designated RV area. He gave us directions and we found him along with a volunteer named Brian who was in charge of the parking area. It was a large, fairly level concrete lot. We were the first RV to arrive there. Brian directed us to park diagonally with our front pointed toward the exit. He was planning ahead for the rush of vehicles trying to leave the lot all at once Sunday morning.

RAGBRAI is an acronym for the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This event was conceived by two columnists that wrote for the Register in 1973. It has grown to huge proportions. There are 8,500 riders registered along with 1,500 RV permits issued for the 45th event. We’re told some sections of the ride will have more than 10,000 riders as unregistered bicyclists join in. Not all of the support RVs are registered – many will dry camp along the streets. The registration sticker for a support vehicle allows access to designated RV camps.

Our support vehicle pass

There are two routes published for each day. One route is for the bicyclists that will take them on roads closed to vehicular traffic. The other route is for support vehicles to get to the destination city for the that day.

As the day wore on, more RVs pulled into the parking lot. Around 5:30pm, the rest of Team RV There Yet? arrived. It was three people in a class C coach – Tom, his father-in-law Fred and another Geoff. Tom and Fred are from Elkhart, Indiana and Geoff is from Austin, Texas. Fred will drive their RV while Tom and Geoff ride. Jeff Spencer will ride and his wife Deb will drive their truck and fifth-wheel RV. Of course I’m driving our coach and Donna will ride.

Team RV There Yet?

Some of the support vehicles are a hoot. I took a few photos of the rigs here.

Several riders are supported by this bus

Short bus put together with a heavy duty diesel drive train

There are several conventional RVs – we’re on the far end

It was hot and humid out. We set up chairs between our coach and Tom’s where the breeze kept us reasonably cool and visited for a while.

Jeff Spencer, Ozark the Cat, Tom, Donna, Geoff, Deb and Fred

After a while, we walked over to Los Tupilanes – a Mexican restaurant next to the high school. The food was surprisingly good. This city of about 6,200 people will be hopping this weekend as its population triples. This is the first time Orange City has been on the RAGBRAI route – the route changes every year. Everyone in town seems excited to be the starting point of the event and I’m sure the local businesses are happy about the inflow of visitors.

Over the past 44 years, RAGBRAI has passed through 780 Iowa towns and spent the night in 125 overnight towns. It has been in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Today the Expo with vendors starts at noon. I’ll go to the support vehicle driver’s safety meeting at 4pm. It’s going to be another hot day – the temperature should reach the low 90s. Tomorrow is expected to be a little cooler. I plan to head out early – be on the road as close to 7am as I can. The route is about 63 miles and will end in Spencer, Iowa. Right now I have good internet connectivity. That may change in the coming days. Even if we have a good signal, I’m guessing cell towers may become overloaded. I’ll post updates when I can.

 

Falls Park

Donna took a rest day on Tuesday after riding 85 miles over three days. She had plans to meet her friend Elizabeth Hagen for lunch. I did some light maintenance on her bike – washed it, cleaned and lubed the chain and adjusted the derailleur.

Other than that, we didn’t make any plans because the forecast called for bad weather. The dire warnings of severe thunderstorms likely to hit Sioux Falls Tuesday afternoon turned out to be a false alarm as the storms stayed to the north. So we went out to explore.

We rode the Spyder over to Falls Park – a city park on the Big Sioux River where it cascades through a series of Sioux Quartzite rock formations. Sioux Quartzite is a very dense stone consisting of silica-cemented quartz sandstone – it’s said to be the second hardest rock – only diamonds are harder. The stone beds at the falls are very resistant to erosion and the rocks in the area probably haven’t changed much in 10,000 years.

We parked in the lot behind the Falls Overlook Cafe. When we pulled in, we saw an Alpine Coach pull into the park ahead of us. We talked briefly with the owner. He and his wife were from Pennsylvania and were on a five-month long trip that took them down to the southwestern US and now they are completing the loop back to Pennsylvania.

We walked along the paths in the park and checked out the falls. The Big Sioux River is contaminated with decomposing organic matter and agricultural runoff – swimming in it isn’t advised. At the falls, I noticed some of the water was the color of tea – probably due to tannins from decomposing twigs and tree branches. Donna noticed excessive foam on some pools of water – most likely another by-product of decomposing organic matter acting as a surfactant. Both tannins and surfactants are naturally occurring when water is exposed to plant matter or peat.

At the information center there’s a small gift shop and a viewing tower. The tower is about five stories high and gives a great view of the park and surrounding area.

Falls Park from the viewing tower – downtown in the background

In the photo above, the Falls Overlook Cafe is the building on the left. Behind it you can see the ruins of the Queen Bee Mill. This seven-story structure was built in 1881 at a cost of $500,000 – a staggering sum in those times. It processed 1,500 bushels of wheat per day, but closed down in 1883 due to inadequate water to power it and a shortage of wheat. It changed hands several times but never was successful. In 1956 it was destroyed by fire which consumed the upper floors and roof. Later, the upper walls were knocked down to prevent them from falling.

A look at the falls from the foot bridge spanning the river

These closer views reveal the color from tannin

Although the heat and humidity was oppressive, the walk through the park and observation tower were well worth the effort. You can take an elevator to the top of the tower and the breeze up there felt good.

We left the park and rode downtown to Woodgrain Brewing Company. This is a microbrewery with a 10-barrel system and a nice pub at the corner of Phillips and 9th in the Plaza Building. We were a little surprised to see they share the first floor with Bluestem Capital – a financial planning firm. One door out of the pub leads you across the Bluestem reception area where you’ll find the restrooms. Now that’s a little different!

Woodgrain Brewing makes their own brews onsite and strives to use locally sourced ingredients including local hops and yeast strains developed by a local microbiology company. I had a pale ale and an IPA – the pale ale wasn’t my cup of a tea – a little green. The IPA was well balanced and I liked it. Donna had a lime kolsch that she thought was a little bitter and a milk stout that she enjoyed.

Wednesday we had more storm warnings for the afternoon. Donna went out on her bike and rode 28 miles. I had errands to run. I had passport photos made at Walgreens, then went to the post office to turn in my passport application – my old passport is expired. I’m a bit worried about how that will turn out. We don’t have a permanent physical address, only a mail forwarding service address. I don’t know what the US State Department will make of that. If they don’t issue me a passport, I’m out $110 – they don’t make refunds if an application is denied – and I won’t be making any plans to cross the border in either direction.

Once again the severe weather passed to the north of us. Donna caught up on laundry using the park’s laundromat and I completed my errands. We hung out and had a quiet evening.

There’s a construction crew on the highway next to the RV park. They start work early – around 6am and they are noisy! A jackhammer at 6am is not nice. Today I need to make a 100-mile round trip on the Spyder – I’m going to Madison to pick up mail at MyDakotaAddress. We usually have them forward our mail whenever we’re stationary for a week or so, but I’ve been waiting for our registrations and license tabs to arrive. So I’ll ride up there and retrieve our mail.

We also have to finish stocking up supplies for the RAGBRAI next week. The ride across Iowa takes us through many small towns and groceries are sure to be in short supply as thousands of people come through.

The forecast for today calls for a high of 90 degrees with thunderstorm warnings again tonight. I’ll pack up the trailer and we’ll head to Orange City, Iowa tomorrow morning.

Sioux Falls Bicycle Loop

One of the truths we’ve found over the past four years of travel is there are many points of interest to see no matter where you are in this country. We are currently in Sioux Falls, South Dakota which is a case in point. Sioux Falls lies in the southeast corner of the state, 15 miles west of the border with Minnesota and even closer to Iowa to the southeast.

Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota with a population of about 175,000 – there are about 250,000 people in the metro area. The city is named after the cascading falls on the Big Sioux River which loops around the city.

The Big Sioux River flows down from the north and runs along the west side of the Sioux Falls Regional airport south of I-90. It continues south on the west side of the city for about 10 miles before it loops around to the east then heads back north on the east side of the city. It flows north all the way back to the east side of the airport before turning east then looping south again into Iowa and eventually drains into the Missouri River.

So, the river flows around the city on three sides – but it actually loops completely around the city. This is due to a diversion channel that was completed in 1961 that diverts water from the river on the north side of the airport and directs it south east to intersect the river on the east side of the city. This diversion channel was made to prevent flooding in the city – water can be channeled back into the Big Sioux northeast of the city instead of flooding the city. The channel has a dam on the west end and a 118-foot spillway on the east end. It’s just about three miles long.

There are 80 public parks in Sioux Falls with Falls Park being the centerpiece. All along the Big Sioux River are greenbelts and much public land. A paved bicycle path makes a 19-mile loop along the Big Sioux and the diversion channel. This is what attracted us to this location. Donna can ride about half a mile from the Tower RV Park and join the bike path. This is perfect for her final training rides before she hits road for the Register Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). This year RAGBRAI begins on Sunday, July 23rd in Orange City and crosses the state from west to east, ending at Lansing, Iowa a week later on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Donna rode two loops of the bike path yesterday – one in each direction – and put in over 40 miles. It was hot and windy making for a challenging ride. Here are some pictures from her ride.

An oncoming cyclist on a tree covered lane

Kids exploring Falls Park

Information along the trail – click to enlarge

Spillway from the diversion channel

This is not the falls!

Downtown Sioux Falls area

Last night we watched a movie – Sully – which we thoroughly enjoyed. A thunderstorm blew in before we went to bed with high winds and hard rain. This morning it’s clear and sunny but with 86% humidity and the forecast calls for more thundershowers beginning around noon.

Donna is meeting her friend Elizabeth Hagen for lunch. I plan to do some maintenance work on her bicycle.

Settled in at Sioux Falls

After an uneventful night dry camping at Cabela’s in Mitchell, we packed up and continued east Friday morning. We could’ve gone south about 10 miles and hit SD42 – a two-lane country road through farmland but I got on I-90 instead. The country road would have been more scenic and it would have taken us directly to the entrance of Tower RV Park – our next destination – but I wanted to make a short detour on the way to stop at Blue Beacon Truck Wash on the northside of Sioux Falls.

Our coach and trailer were badly in need of a wash after driving through the construction zones on US212. Blue Beacon is a chain of truck washes specializing in big rigs. They mainly do commercial tractor-trailer rigs but also have pricing for RVs. There was a line of trucks waiting to enter one of the two wash bays, so we had a bit of a wait. We were only traveling 70 miles, so I didn’t mind waiting for a wash. I had the full wash on the coach and trailer including a Rain-X treatment. The cost was $70 and I think it was money well spent.

I had viewed the entrance to Tower RV Park on Google Earth, so I knew I couldn’t enter directly from eastbound SD42 – I had to go through a neighborhood to get us turned around and enter from the westbound lane. Check-in was quick and efficient. We were assigned site 309, a back-in site where we had to drop the trailer first. The paved pad was large enough for us to drop the trailer and back the coach in next to it.

Wide site 309

We checked in around 2pm and there were several open sites in the park. By 6pm that was no longer the case – the park was completely full. The park is convenient to I-29 and only a few miles from I-90. Saturday morning a few of the rigs pulled out after a one-night stop, but by Saturday afternoon the park was at full occupancy again. Even with the park full, it’s a quiet place. Well, there’s some road noise from I-29, but the constant chatter of cicadas nearly overrides it!

We chose to stay for a week here due to the location. We are about half a mile from the Sioux Falls Bike Trail which follows the Big Sioux River. Donna rode a about 25 miles on Saturday and about 20 miles again on Sunday. Heat is an issue – it reached 95 degrees on Saturday and about 90 degrees on Sunday. Donna is out riding this morning and plans to do a long ride of over 40 miles. She’ll take a day off the bike tomorrow, then ride Wednesday and Thursday before taking a break as we head out to Orange City, Iowa on Friday. On Sunday, she’ll start the RAGBRAI course which will take us across the state to Lansing, Iowa.

When Donna returned from her ride on Sunday, she told me she saw what appeared to be race cars at the fairgrounds about a mile from here. So after lunch, I rode the Spyder over to the fairgrounds and saw an autocross course had been set up in a large parking lot. Autocross courses are typically very twisty and are laid out with plastic cones. This course was relatively long with some very tight turns. There were more than 50 competitors. The skill level and equipment varied. Some were quite quick, others not so much. Each car runs solo racing against the clock to complete the course – there’s no wheel-to-wheel racing.

Lining up for a run

The average time to complete the course was in the upper 80-second range – 85 to 88 seconds by my reckoning. A couple of cars took over 100 seconds – these were driven by novices. The quickest car there was a Porsche 911 Turbo S. This car costs nearly $200,000 and boasts 580 horsepower. It was the only high horsepower car there to turn very quick times. Other high horsepower cars such as Corvettes and Camaros struggled for grip through the tight sections. Driver skill played a big part undoubtedly. The 911 Turbo S turned a quickest time of 73.0 and made several runs in the low 74s with a different driver. The only other car to run sub-75 seconds was a Honda S2000 that turned a 74.9 lap. This car handled well and had a skillful driver that was very smooth on the course.

Quickest car with a 73.0

Too much wheel spin for this one

80-second laps

This Miata ran well – high 70s

Quick S2000

I hung out for about an hour and a half before I decided to get out of the sun. While I was out, I made a stop at the liquor store.

I figured I would want to have a bottle of Scotch in the liquor cabinet so I could have a dram or two when we cross Iowa. I get spoiled by the price of liquor in California – it’s so much cheaper than just about anywhere else. Here in South Dakota, a 750ml bottle of Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch is $44 – in California I could get it for $10 less.

The liquor store had a special on a Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt Scotch that included a 750ml bottle of The Original and two 50ml sampler bottles containing The La Santa and The Quinta Ruban. The Original Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky is aged 10 years in oak casks that are sourced from forest land they own in the Ozark Mountains. They lease the casks to Jack Daniels and Heaven Hills to age bourbon for four years. The casks are then shipped to Ross-Shire, Scotland to age the Scotch whiskys.

Glenmorangie special offer

The La Santa is what Glenmorangie calls an Extra Matured whisky. The whisky is transferred into a cask that sourced from Spain where it originally held sherry. It’s aged for an additional two years and picks up flavor and complexity from the wine cask. Glenmorangie pioneered this technique in the 1990s – many other distilleries such as Balvenie started doing this around 2000.

The Quinta Ruban is similarly transferred to a secondary cask – in this case it’s a cask that held port wine before. The 50ml tasters are about 1.7 ounces – just enough for a sipper.

Highland Scotch like Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet and so on are typically very smooth and somewhat dry. Some Scotch afficionados prefer a more peaty or smoky profile and consider these Highland varieties to be an entry level whisky lacking complexity. I don’t care – I know what I like and it’s not an Islay Scotch full of smokiness.

The forecast calls for another hot day with a high of 95 degrees before it cools down to a more normal temperature in the mid-80s. I have a short list of things I want to get done before we move out of here. Donna’s main goal is getting her training rides in before she tackles the 411-mile ride across Iowa.

Corvette Caravan

Donna braved the heat in Rapid City, South Dakota – not to mention the hills – and went out on her bicycle again on Wednesday. While she was out I caught up on maintenance – I was past due to change the diesel fuel filter on our coach. Although we had only traveled about 7,000 miles since I last changed it, I try to keep to a 12-month interval on this filter. Our coach uses a Fleetguard FS1022 fuel filter which has about a two-quart capacity. A filter element of this size is surely capable of much more than 7,000 miles provided it hasn’t been subjected to heavily contaminated fuel, but the filter media also degrades with time.

Filter last changed 06-16

I was only a few weeks overdue. Changing the fuel filter is a messy affair. No matter how hard I try to keep everything contained, a few dribbles of diesel fuel always hit the ground – and my hands. So, I’m always mindful of where I do this job. I used a plastic catch pan and several paper towels and kept all but a few drops off of the ground. The residual fuel is put in an old oil container and recycled at an auto parts store. I write the month/year of the change on the filter canister so I don’t have to try and remember it or look it up in my log. The writing is a bit shaky – it’s not easy writing freehand on a curved surface.

New filter – good ’til 07-18

We thought about heading out to Hart Ranch for a barbecue and rodeo in the late afternoon, but by 3pm thundershowers were developing. We went into the Elks Lodge at 4pm for happy hour and rain drops started falling as we went in. Soon there was heavy rain and lightning. The weather vacillated between sunshine and gloom with periods of rain over the next hour and a half. We dined at the bar in the lodge.

A little sunlight on the clouds before the next thunder shower

Later we watched a couple more episodes of Homeland – we don’t have all of season six on our hard drive and soon will be in the dark on this series.

Thursday morning I was awakened early by our neighbor hooking up his fifth-wheel trailer and preparing to leave at 6am. At this point I just got out of bed. After wasting a bit of time on the web, I started prepping to leave. I took the Weber Q to the trailer and a few other odds and ends we had out – being mindful of noise for our other neighbors.

Donna got up and fixed a nice breakfast of eggs and leftover steak – lovely. We had everything buttoned up and left around 9:30am. I need to mention one glitch. Somehow I didn’t receive the usual renewal notice from South Dakota for our registrations and license tabs. It slipped my mind and only occurred to me when I made the appointment for Donna’s driver’s license. I renewed online but don’t have the new tabs yet and we’re expired as of June 30th!

As we were hooking up the trailer we saw a Rapid City Police car make a traffic stop right outside the exit from the lodge lot. We crossed our fingers that he would be done and gone before we left – I have a receipt for payment of the fees, but the fact is, we’re on expired registrations and plates.

He left before we pulled out. Apparently he was working Jolly Lane. He had just pulled over another speeder as we turned out of the lot onto Jolly Lane. Luckily he was focused on his traffic stop and we had no worries about our expired plates – we just need to get to the campground in Sioux Falls where we will receive our new tabs and registrations.

Our route took us east on I-90. I had originally thought about stopping somewhere near Chamberlain – about halfway between Rapid City and Sioux Falls near the Missouri River- but we changed the plan. We were headed for the Cabela’s lot in Mitchell, South Dakota.

We last visited Mitchell in 2013 when we arranged our wills with our attorney there. I wrote about establishing a domicile state here – we are all-in with South Dakota.

I noticed something interesting on the drive. I started to see Corvettes heading westbound – I would notice them approaching and realized many of them seemed to be caravaning. There would be groups of three to a dozen Corvettes heading west on I-90 – with an occasional single car.

Donna was engrossed in her laptop and didn’t see them. I finally mentioned it after seeing at least 100 Corvettes – mostly newer models, but some vintage – go by. I was a Corvette geek at one time – I had a 1965 big block roadster and a 1972 LT-1 T-Top. She looked it up online and found the Black Hills Corvette Rally. It starts in Sioux Falls and caravans to Spearfish, South Dakota. It started as a small event in 1971 and is now a big-time Corvette rally. Over 400 participate and I’m sure I saw more than 200 of them as they came past over the next few hours.

We stopped in Murdo at the Pilot/Flying J for fuel and lunch. I topped up our tank with 68 gallons of diesel fuel – pure diesel fuel. This is likely the last of pure petroleum diesel we’ll see for a while. We’re headed into the corn belt and all we’re likely to find is B20 diesel – 20% biodiesel mixed with petroleum. I’m not happy about that for a few reasons – but I’ll get into that in another post.

We found the new Cabela’s in Mitchell south of I-90 – my how Mitchell has grown! They have a large RV lot on the southeast side of the store and the directions for RV parking from Spruce Street off exit 332 are well-marked. When we arrived, we found a couple dozen or more RV stalls of at least 70′ in length. There was only one other RV when we arrived at 3:45pm – an Airstream trailer with no vehicle or signs of people. The sites all have a slope to them, nothing too drastic. I didn’t want to put the jacks down in the hot asphalt, so we just used a couple of 2″ wood pads under the front tires to reach a reasonably level attitude. We lost another hour on the road as we’re in the Central Time Zone now.

Later we walked a few hundred yards to El Columpio – a Mexican restaurant. It was surprisingly good and the prices were great. They even had Mexican cervesas (beer). When we returned there were a few more RVs in the lot. In my last post I mentioned a fifth-wheel trailer pulling a cargo trailer – well, this time we saw a motorhome pulling a travel trailer! I’m not sure what the story is, but  we saw what appeared to be a couple with an older woman sitting outside. I’m guessing the couple have the motorhome and the travel trailer is a mother-in-law unit.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that

This morning we have cool temperatures in the 60s with a breeze blowing in from the east. We’ll be bucking headwinds again today but we only have about 70 miles to go. We’ll check in at Tower RV Park in Sioux Falls where we’ll spend the next week.

Back to South Dakota

We pulled out of the Broadus, Montana city park around 10am Sunday. Our route had us continue down US212 where we traversed the northeast corner of Wyoming before we reached South Dakota. We saw several antelope in the fields along the roadside this time – I expected to see them the day before but didn’t.

We drove through the town of Belle Fourche, South Dakota which has the distinction of being near the designated geographic center of the United States of America. This designation was  bestowed by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1959 – after Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the union. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is Lebanon, Kansas.

We drove through town on US 85 next to a truck pulling a fifth-wheel trailer which had a cargo trailer attached to it – you don’t see that very often! We turned southeast at SD34 while the trailer pulling a trailer went straight down US85. We hit I-90 at Whitewood west of Sturgis. A little while later, the trailer pulling a trailer passed us at about 70mph. He must have taken US85 due south and got on I-90 west of Spearfish. Ours was definitely the shorter, faster route.

We pulled into the Elks Lodge in Rapid City around 1:30pm. I parked in the front lot while we figured out how to set up. This is a very nice lodge – one of the largest and cleanest lodges we’ve visited. This is the first lodge we’ve been to where the bar is open to the public. This is due to the golf course on the lodge property which is also open to the public. The RV lot is for Elks members only.

We dropped the trailer in the main parking lot and backed the coach into site four. We have 50amp electric service and fresh water, no sewer hook up. We paid for four nights and shouldn’t have any worries about sewer. The 50 amp electric service was needed – we had to run the generator on the road to power the front roof air conditioner. Once hooked up, we ran both roof A/Cs – it was 100 degrees outside! The average high temperature in July for Rapid City is 85 degrees – we were in for a few days with highs above average.

We had a problem with one of the basement compartment doors over the last couple of days on the road. The door popped open a few times. I adjusted the plate the latch attaches to, but it still wasn’t very secure. On Monday, I found an Ace Hardware store and bought a flat brass bar one-inch wide. I had them cut a three-inch section. I glued this flat bar to the latch plate effectively extending the height of the plate. The door latches securely now and shouldn’t be a problem down the road. While I was out, I picked up a few groceries.

Meanwhile, Donna was out for a bike ride in the 90 degree heat. She planned a route looking at a map and headed out for a 24-mile ride. Little did she know her route included some steep climbs! She got through it though.

I went online Monday and found the local Department of Public Safety (DPS) licensing office. I found out they take appointments for driver’s license exams and renewals. Donna lost her driver’s license back in November in San Diego – she figures it must have slipped out of the slot in her purse when she pulled her cell phone out. I scheduled an appointment at the DPS office a few miles from the lodge for 10am Tuesday morning. They advise arriving 10 minutes prior to the appointment time.

We walked into the DPS office 12 minutes before 10am. They had a sign telling us to take a number after we completed the application paperwork. Donna had already completed the application so she took a number. Then I saw another sign telling us to notify a clerk if we had an appointment. Donna told a woman at the counter she had an appointment and gave her name. She was told that she would be next in line.

We sat down to wait and within two minutes Donna’s name was called. The woman at the counter entered Donna’s application in her computer terminal, took her photograph and printed her new driver’s license in less than ten minutes! I’ve never experienced such efficiency at a government agency.

We were back on the Spyder and on the road a couple of minutes past 10am. We headed up US16 and turned off at 16A. We were headed to Mount Rushmore. We visited the monument in 2013 when we first hit the road as full-timers (post).

Once we got through the tourist town of Keystone, we hit a traffic jam trying to enter the monument. There was a crew painting new road lettering and arrows and they had a lane closed. This confused the traffic as it was forced to converge into two lanes from three – the two lanes that are for entry to the monument. Through traffic had to go around the crew, then get out of the entry lane at the entrance and get back on the highway. We baked in the sun for 20 minutes trying to enter.

When we were here before, we paid the $10 fee to park and were planning to show our National Parks pass inside but there was no entrance fee. This time I showed my National Parks pass and was told the pass doesn’t do anything for me at the monument – everyone has to pay for a parking permit to enter the monument. So I paid $10 again. We walked through the monument viewing area. We both thought the famous sculptures looked like they had been cleaned since our last visit.

Donna in front of the state flags display

At the viewing pavillion

We didn’t stay long. We went back to Keystone for lunch at Peggy’s Cafe. We were disappointed in the food quality – not on our recommended list. I wanted to take the scenic drive down Needles Highway again but realized that would mean we had to fight our way through the traffic jam at the monument again.

I decided to ride the Spyder down 16A to SD87 and we could come up the Needles Highway from the bottom. This route took us through Custer State Park. At the park entrance there was a sign advising a fee for a park pass to use any of the parks facilities – through traffic on the highway didn’t need a pass. So I carried on without stopping.

At the turn-off to Needles Highway we were stopped and an agent told us we had to purchase a pass to enter the highway, even if we didn’t plan to stop. I didn’t recall paying anything four years ago when we drove down the highway. I paid $10 for a pass.

Needles Highway is very scenic – and it’s slow. The road is narrow and full of twists and turns. There are six tunnels – some a as narrow as eight feet seven inches. I don’t know how the tour buses which are eight feet six inches wide manage to get through, but they do.

I didn’t stop to take photos at the Cathedral Spires which are granite columns – needle like – towering along a section of road. I thought we would come back down the highway and I would get pictures then. We went all the way to Sylvan Lake before stopping to stretch our legs.

Sylvan Lake

We were hot and the route was longer than I anticipated. We didn’t have enough fuel to back-track down the highway. We cooled off in the shade and Donna even put her feet in the lake.

Donna cooling off in Sylvan Lake

We exited the highway at the top end and rode back to Rapid City. We had put in about 110 miles and spent four hours on the Spyder. We had enough sightseeing for one day – we were getting saddle sore.

We ended the day with grilled green chile turkey burgers cooked on the Weber Q for dinner and some leftover red potato salad.

Green chile turkey burger

I opened an IPA called Total Domination from Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon.

Ninkasi Total Domination

We’re thinking about going to a barbeque and rodeo later today – it depends on the weather. For the last three days, a thunder shower developed in the late afternoon. Usually it blows through quickly but we had a considerable amount of rain along with high winds, thunder and lightning last night.

Tomorrow we’ll head east and probably make an overnight stop near Chamberlain before we check in for a week in Sioux Falls.