This first in what will probably be about 100 posts covering our spring vacation! We took a massive road trip of awesomeness that began in Oak park and went through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore & Crazy Horse), Wyoming (Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Jackson), and back to South Dakota (this time through the Badlands), and then back through Minnesota and Wisconsin to home! *whew* It was a breathtaking trip and we saw incredible things!

As a warning? I took most of these (Dale was driving!) so this post will likely not have the high-quality photos you’ve come to expect from our blog. Heh.


We stayed in the Wisconsin Dells the first night–just three hours from home–and then drove across Minnesota and South Dakota to end up in Keystone (took about 12-14 hours).

We made sure to stop quite a few times along the way to South Dakota. Luckily for me (not so much for Dale) there are tons of roadside attractions (which I will probably go into more depth on over on my dumb roadside curiosities blog). Illinois and Wisconsin were quickly dispensed and we came to the lovely state of Minnesota…I tried to get pictures of all the state signs (wait till you see the Idaho sign).

For you NPR fans? Garrison Keillor gets a shout-out on the Minnesota sign. Dale loves him some raspy-voiced NPR folk heroes.

Let me just start by saying that one of my greatest regrets about this trip was that we didn’t have time (and Dale was solidly against it, honestly) to see the Spam Museum. It’s still on my list of places to go before I die. But we did see this AWESOME statue of the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota. First of all, how great is the name Blue Earth for a city? Pretty great, in my opinion. Secondly, why can’t Oak Park have a giant Jolly Green Giant statue? WHY?

Minnesota was lovely–and we even stopped to see the Mississippi River on our way in. I really want to spend more time in Minnesota but we were on a mission so we kept on VW-ing on into South Dakota, which is now one of my favorite states!

Great Faces. Great Places. INDEED.

We knew we were going to like South Dakota when we stopped at the first rest area and found that it was filled with adorable midcentury modern architectural details in pristine condition. South Dakota was immediately up our alley. Dale took this photo! Guest appearance by Dale!

Obviously poor Dale was just the driver/patient co-traveler for the first day. It was all roadside America and I was in my element. (Big props to Roadside America‘s iPhone app–I saw SO MANY AWESOME THINGS because I had that handy app on my phone on our long driving days! It was really worth the rather pricey application). For those of you who haven’t spent the last few years dreaming about going to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota? It’s pretty awesome. It’s a building covered in giant pieces of art made entirely from multi-colored corn. Yep, all that art on the building? It’s corn!!!!

The man on the Segway? CORN! The ship at sea? CORN. The biker at sunset? STILL CORN! It’s quite seriously one of the greatest, most bizarre buildings on earth–and there’s more art (and a gigantic gift shop) inside. I’ll be highlighting that on my other blog later because it really deserves its own post. <—LOSER.

We kept on moving, stopping only for homemade pie with cinnamon ice cream, until we finally–finally!–got to Wall Drug.

Wall, South Dakota, was a little town without much doin’! But a couple who owned the drug store had a dream. They decided to offer free water to all who came and when cars had no A/C that was quite the gift–actually not really. Everybody offered free water. But they decided to promote it with signs all along the highway. And slowly turn their small town drug store into a major tourist attraction that takes up most of downtown Wall. As you drive through South Dakota you will see a sign promoting the mysterious tourist trap/drug store known as Wall Drug every 50 feet or so. And how do you know you’ve arrived?

There’s an 80-foot dinosaur to let you know to pull off at this exit!

And this was just the first of about 10 cement dinosaurs we saw in South Dakota. Seriously. How great is that state? Pretty great.

Next up? Mount Rushmore and Crazy (seriously crazy) Horse.