Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Chapter 37 - Mt Rushmore to Oacoma, South Dakota

Monday, August 3rd:
We made our decision as to where to stay tonight while parked at a rest area on I-90 east of Rapid City, South Dakota. We based our decision simply on the fact that the campsite, the Oasis Campground, was near the Missouri River in a very small hamlet named Oacoma, population 930. The campground literature stated that their location was "above" the banks of the Missouri and while this was close to the truth, they conveniently failed to mention that between the campground and the Missouri River was the very noisy Interstate 90. Despite the fact that our campground and the Black Hills were 200 miles apart, the noise of the motorcycles headed for the Sturgis rally were still loud and clear during the rest of the afternoon and evening.  The drive over was very pleasant although as the scenery changed from the beautiful rugged rolling hills of western South Dakota to the level farm lands of eastern South Dakota, our interest in viewing the landscape slowly diminished.  The photograph above pretty much shows a typical scene as our drive east to our campground neared a close - the photograph shows only a small section of an otherwise huge field of yellow sunflowers. I suppose that sunflower seeds had to be grown somewhere. Never would have guessed South Dakota.

Our interest in Oacoma, which incidentally sits across the Missouri River from the larger city of Chamberlain, population 2,444, was based simply on the fact that both cities sit on the Missouri River. Since our path eastward seems to loosely follows the Lewis and Clark trail to the west and in some cases their return back east, and according to what we have read their expedition stopped and camped two nights near Chamberlain, we thought it might be fun to see for ourselves what the mighty Missouri River looks like at this juncture.  Other than this rather nebulous reason, and the fact that we like to stop driving after 200 miles, we had no good reason for having chosen Oacoma/Chamberlain as a stopover point. That said, as you can see in the above photograph the view of the Missouri River from a hill above Chamberlain was quite beautiful. By the way, the jacket that Kathy was wearing on this cool windy day will someday become famous as it contains the many patches that she has purchased during the course of our travels.  Someone told her that Meriwether Lewis had collected patches on his way west with William Clark and she thought that it was a good idea.

Other than a brief trip to view and photograph the mighty Missouri River we spent the remainder of the afternoon at our travel trailer reading and accessing the internet (for the first time in four days), and watching TV (for the first time in two days.)  While our campground is very close to I-90 as we previously stated, at most it was only 25% occupied.  What a change from our experiences over the last four weeks or so.

Tuesday, August 4th:
Our only plans for today were to explore the cities of Oacoma and Chamberlain, check out some of the stores downtown, again look at the Missouri River, and finally replenish our supplies. And, oh yes, Kathy needed to do the wash.  When one travels in a travel trailer many of the daily tasks are the same tasks that must be performed at home such as changing the sheets, shopping for food, checking the bank account, and so forth.  Fortunately, right across the street from our campground was a large gas station and a rather interesting mall with a large variety of stores. We have of course, seen this before out here in the west, where the exterior veneer of the stores is made to look like an old western town. Having seen the real thing we are no longer impressed with the false image although in this case they did a nice job with their movie set design.  We were not surprised to find a lot of motorcycles in their parking lot.

Since Kathy is planning on doing a stitched map of our travels she wanted to find a store where she could purchase some extra threads.  I said that I doubted that either of these two small cities would have such as store so when we drove down the short Main Street in Chamberlain we were both quite surprised to see The Quilt Shop.  Kathy found what she wanted plus a new purse. Of course.

The downtown area of Chamberlain was small and considering the size of the surrounding community, small we expected.  However, we had hoped that the downtown area would at least have a little charm but unfortunately the few older buildings that we did find had been modernized and consequently their historic charm was destroyed. Sadly the modernizing as opposed to the restoration of older buildings is a common practice in many cities. What we did find in the city area however were a few very nice parks located right along the Missouri River including the American Creek Recreational Area where we took this photo of Cabo enjoying a playground swing.  

On our short drive back from Chamberlain we drove into another RV park that was located directly on the Missouri River that somehow I had overlooked when I did our brief search several days earlier for a place to stay here in this area.  Surprisingly very much like our own RV park, they too were only 25% or less occupied. Frankly, RV parks that are not crowded are a real plus.  This photograph to the right was taken of Kathy and Cabo near the entrance to this other campground. 

We read on one of the local historic informational signs that when the Lewis and Clark Expedition came up the Missouri River back in 1803, the river was very much different than it is today particularly with respect to its width.  During the dryer months the river was narrow and shallow and moved swiftly.  It was only during heavy rainstorms and flooding conditions that the river increased in size.  What has changed today is that numerous dams have been built along the river with the result that the river's width and flow have been pretty much controlled.  Mr. Lewis and Mr. Clark would not recognize the river as it is today.

This final photo was taken of our travel trailer in the Oasis Campground.  We must admit if it is not already apparent, that we were not too thrilled with our decision to stay here in the Oacoma/Chamberlain area, not that eastern South Dakota offered a lot of alternatives.  We have been spoiled by the places that we have already been with the beautiful scenery and the fun attractions to visit.  Perhaps too much of a good thing has spoiled us such that we have overlooked some of the highlights of this area.  Perhaps, but then we have a chance to wind down and relax and that is not such a bad thing.

Tomorrow we have reservations at a campground in Jackson, Minneapolis.  Not sure what there is to do if anything in Jackson, but as always it is somewhere new to check out and that is what traveling is all about.

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