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American Road Trip Adventure: Day 3

September 4th, 2013 (08:07 am)

I've just returned from a long road trip. I was traveling to a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we made it a family vacation, to show our son more of this big, amazing country. I blogged from the road, but I didn't want to advertise to every burglar on the internet that our house was empty, so I've waited until now to start posting the entries.

Madison, Wisconsin, to Brookings, South Dakota
483 Miles

P1110449 Ringling Bros marker, 30% crop
From Madison, Wisconsin, we drove north and west across the state. That's when I learned that "Wisconsin" is an Indian word meaning, "Land of Many Indoor Water Slide Parks." Jon Morgan was wild to stop at every one of them. We did not oblige him.

It's a shame that an area with so much natural beauty wasn't considered enough of an attraction for tourists until all that nature was shoved aside in favor of water parks and miniature golf courses. But we did see several interesting historic markers to snarf. For one thing, Ringling Brothers Circus used to winter here, as bizarre as that seems, given the local weather. The circus doesn't hibernate here anymore, of course. It winters in Florida, which actually makes sense. Lions who have been frozen into big, angry ice sculptures don't readily jump through hoops.

It's August, so we were not eaten by angry frozen lions. Instead, we crossed the Mississippi into Minnesota and continued across that state until we finally reached the South Dakota line. And soon afterward, we saw our first herd of buffalo for this trip! (Before someone calls me on this, yes, technically they are bison. But they are also known as American buffalo, and buffalo is an acceptable term.)

P1110468 & 542 sights along the road, Minn, 30%

We were surprised at the huge herds of modern windmills roaming the prairies, including this specimen, spotted in Minnesota. The hot-air balloon is one we saw hovering over the landscape, also in Minnesota, though it was probably searching for Kansas. Both pictures were taken through the car's windshield. Don't worry; I wasn't driving at the time.

South Dakota was an important state for Jon Morgan, the first of many states on this journey that he hadn't visited before. One of his goals for the trip was to travel to some new states. Now he was well on his way.

While we were happy to be in South Dakota, before long we were eager to reach our hotel, check in, and find some long-delayed dinner. It seemed that we would never arrive. But finally we reached our destination for Friday night, the college town of Brookings, in the eastern part of South Dakota.

Tomorrow we visit a famous little town.