Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Rambling Down the Road to the 15th Montana Owners' Club National Fall Rally

We hit the road early as we headed to Goshen, IN for a Montana Owners' Club (MOC) Rally, eager to do some more touring of South Dakota along our route with our VIP discount pass from our summer work-camping employer.

Our first stop was the Prairie Homestead in Philip, SD, the original sod home of Ed Brown and his family.  It is one of the last examples of early pioneer homes still standing.  It is truly amazing how people homesteaded back then.   They were in the middle of nowhere facing so many obstacles, from harsh weather, to predators like grasshoppers and prairie dogs ruining their crops, to chancing safe passage to the outhouse without encountering rattle snakes!   The land here is still farmed, so we made a donation to sample some of the heirloom veggies like zucchini, squash, and tomatoes, which were delicious.  There was even a pumpkin patch, but it was way too early to pick the gourds.  There were some goats on the grounds, and this place had the friendliest chickens I’ve ever met—one even let me pet it!  The grounds had a huge cast iron tub, which I learned was multi-functional.  It was used by the Brown family to wash bedding as well as to scald the chickens.  Gross—talk about a health violation!  I enjoyed visiting this small but interesting historical site.


I just had to--test out the outhouse!

A white-tailed prairie dog checking me out!

This egg-layer didn't seem to mind me visiting inside the earthen coop!

Next up was Badlands Petrified Gardens, which is a tourist attraction that has been around since the 1950s.  It has a small but interesting assortment of rocks and petrified wood.  Having visited Petrified Forest National Park back in 2016, I found Badlands Petrified Gardens anti-climatic.   But since it didn’t cost me any cheese money, I made the most of my visit.  They had charts comparing the geological vs biblical timelines for the creation of Earth, which I found quite intriguing.  It got me thinking about a book I read about the Grand Canyon, in which scientists dispel the theory that Noah’s Great Flood had anything to do with the Canyon’s topography.  Among their reasons, they cite that the length of time of the Flood stated in the Bible (371 days) was too short a period to create such an anomaly.  But who really knows how time was measured.  Maybe our current values for a day, year, century, etc. were completely different once upon a time.  And then I pondered what came first, the chicken or the egg?  Too much work for my tiny brain to come to any conclusions.  There is one thing I do know for certain, however:  that despite scientists floating Big Bang theories and facts and figures up the wazoo, they will never convince this stuffed rat that a higher power did not have a hand in creation.  Wow, I sure digressed--sorry about that.  Suffice to say that the time charts were very thought provoking and undoubtedly the most fascinating part of this visit.

Glow-in-the-dark rocks!

The Pioneer Auto Show in Murdo, SD, provided us our last opportunity to use our VIP pass.  It has a huge collection of historical vehicles, from wagons, to early 1900 Fords, to 1950s muscle cars.  They had motorcycles, farm equipment, boats--you name it.   Cute little cafĂ© and gift shop, too.  Auto nostalgia at its best!

This vehicle was built of solid mahogany wood.

The Original General Lee from the "Dukes of Hazard'. 

A riding lawnmower--PoPo sized!

We finished up the day viewing the magnificent “Dignity” that overlooks the Missouri River in Chamberlain, SD.   This sculpture, completed in 2016, depicts a Lakota (part of the Sioux tribe) woman displaying a traditional star quilt.  It is absolutely gorgeous!  Massive in size (especially compared to me!) and exquisitely detailed, it gives honor and glory to the indigenous culture that call these lands home.

Overlooking the Missouri River.

Onward to Cabela’s in Mitchell, SD, where we parked for the night.   It was a busy, fun-filled day and with the quiet, spacious parking lot, I slept fitfully.  I arose the next morning in great anticipation of continuing our sight-seeing.  This was my long-awaited visit to The Corn Palace!  Rather than unhitch Big Boomer, we got our daily exercise and walked the 2.6 miles to The Corn Palace, enjoying a complimentary breakfast of apples from the trees on Cabela’s property!  I normally would not partake, but the trees were just brimming with these ripe, tasty temptations.  And it brought back fond memories of picking apples with my Mom, Dad, and Grandma at Strawberry Fields in Chesterfield, NJ (their Empire apples rock!), one of the many you-pick farms we would frequent for purchasing fruits and vegetables.  So for old times sake, I taste-tested and then took home a few souvenirs for Mom to make me some delectable apple desserts.

Now I know many folks think it is corny, but getting to see The Corn Palace has been on my “to do” list for several years.  It is steeped in tradition, which always scores big with me.  I had no idea there were so many types of corn and in such a variety of colors.  And the works of art created with corn!  So cool!

Early rendition of  The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD...


...and how it looks today.

We trekked back to Cabela’s, where we did some shopping as a gesture of thanks for the two nights of “free” parking.

The next day was a long drive day through the plains of SD and IA, with hundreds and hundreds of acres of corn, hay, and sunflower fields.  We passed through several “bigger” towns like Yankton (population approx. 15,000, home to Mount Marty College and the cattle stockyards) and Vermillion (population approx. 10,500, home to University of South Dakota) as well as some much smaller, unincorporated areas like Meckling (population approx. 200, which dubs itself the “Hay Capital of the Universe”.)

In East-Central IA, we stopped at Amana Colonies.  Now on the National Register of Historic Places, this communal area was inhabited from 1855 to 1932 by German Pietists seeking religious freedom.  They were almost completely self-sufficient, raising their own food, making their own clothes, building their own furniture, requiring little from the outside world.  Do you remember Amana Corporation?  That appliance business was owned and operated by this commune many moons ago (it is now owned/operated by Whirlpool, who still sells units under the Amana brand name).  The villagers had lovely, quaint homes and colorful, blooming flower and vegetable gardens.  But like most idyllic utopias, the experiment went south.  Now Amana Colonies represent capitalism at its best.  Many of the homes are now businesses and specialty shops.  I personally followed my nose which brought me to the local butcher shop.  The scents of smoked meats and fresh homemade cheese were maddening!  Since Dad, the whole foods/plant-based eater, wasn’t with me, I savored a few free samples of dried meats and cheese curds!  Yum!

We continued rambling down the road, stopping in Walcott at Iowa 80, the “World’s Largest Truck Stop".  Large it was—service bays, truck washes, showers, lounges, chapel, and the biggest Pac-man machine I’ve ever seen!  It is also home to the Trucking Museum, which I would have loved to check out (the bad boys in here would make Big Boomer look like a Tonka Toy).  But alas, they are closed on Mondays!  Rats!

Finally, we arrived at the Fairgrounds in Goshen, IN for our Montana Owners’ 
Club (MOC) 15th Annual Fall Rally.  This is our first national rally, although we are repeat Montana purchasers (2011 and 2015) and have attended the Quartzsite regional rally on more than one occasion.  We had a great time, reconnecting with folks like John and Jim/Vickie, who were among the very first MOC members we met in Quartzsite, as well as fostering new relationships.  Like most RV group rallies, the days were packed with fun activities like pet parades, music/dancing, and seminars on a variety of topics.  And all the food—we never stopped eating!  Pot lucks, BBQs, luncheons, ice cream socials—I am ready for the Fat Farm!  My family especially liked taking the Montana plant tour.  I must say, it is a bit scary to think that 18-20 units are being built a day at the Montana plant.  And listening to folks with problems on their newly-purchased rigs was disturbing.  But we have been fortunate with our 2015 and count our blessings.  We also toured the plants of Mor-Ryde, DRV, and Luxe--yes, we are starting to do our research for our next unit!

Can you tell the Pet Parade was my favorite activity?

We enjoyed taking our daily walks, and there was the Pumpkinvine Trail near the Fairgrounds that offered us scenic views, bucolic settings, serenity, and the mileage we like to achieve (5 miles/day). 

Our time in Goshen wasn’t just about visiting with fellow MOC members.  We also had the great fortune to receive a visit from our fav, Meandering Monsons, whom we joined for dinner in downtown Goshen, and to catch up in Shipshewanna with fellow Xscapers, Cheryl/David Goldstein (Landmark Adventures), who were in town purchasing new RV furniture.  Friends are never very far despite this nomadic lifestyle.

We had a great time at the Rally, and we do appreciate the volunteer efforts put forth by the organizers.  Thank you for a job well done!

Well, next time I speak with you, I will be in TX on an ERPU until the end of the year while Dad has his follow-up appointments with doctors.  What the heck is an ERPU?  Tell ya about it in my next post.  Talk to you soon!

We would like to thank the following organizations for all the great service and support they offer to the RVing community:

 Escapees RV Club



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