Day 26 - Chamberlain to Mitchell SD
Mileage: 71 miles
Weather: Temps in the low 60s to start. Temps in the low 90s to end. Winds strong and mostly at our backs.
Highlights of the day:
It was thick this morning. Wicked thick, as they would say back home. Humidity was 95%+. Dew point was in the mid 80s. Temps were in the upper 70s. Clouds were not to be found. This was all at 6:00 as the riders walked to breakfast. Forecast warned of a heat advisory. Temps in the 90s but real feel in the 100s. Suffice it to say, we were all a little motivated to get out and get this done today. I think Mother Nature had the same idea. While the wind was in our face for the first miles of the day, it turned around by 8:30 and built into a very nice tailwind. We were pushed along so nicely that we almost (I did say almost) didn’t mind the kadunk-kadunk road all that much. Most riders were in by 1:00, before the highest heat of the day expressed itself.
Terrain today was mostly flat after the climb out of Chamberlain. The scenery was all farm, all day. Lots of cows. Some with really long horns. And horses. Acres of corn, rye, and wheat. And fields of beans. Hey, isn’t that a movie about baseball? Suffice it to say that east South Dakota feels like the Midwest. We’re out of the grasslands. The humidity is way up. The rollers have flattened out. We’ve said goodbye to the high plains and hello to the Midwest’s farmland.
We saw many fields that were just soaked or even flooded with nothing planted. As best as I can explain, the farmers have a window in which they can plant their crops, if it’s too wet, they have to wait. Wait too long and it’s not worth planting. This area has received lots of rain. There were stretches on our route with standing water right up to the pavement on both sides of the road. Our guess is this must have been completely covered with water not too long ago. We seem to be having lots of extremes across the country - from severe drought to way too much rain. There doesn’t seem to be all that much in middle ground.
We had several opportunities to take in those locales that make smaller towns in rural America unique. We started out in Pukwana (puck-WAH-nah). It is famous for the Puk U Bar & Grill. Pukwana is also known for its Crazy Racers Lawnmower Racing. It’s a race track built for lawnmower races. Seems it’s a big sport in these parts. No races running this morning but a few riders stopped for the photo op.
Next stop was in the town of Kimball. The South Dakota Tractor Museum houses a collection of older tractors & farm machinery. It also has all kinds of older homemaker appliances and cars and a blacksmith shop and… It’s a huge collection of lots of eclectic older items. It even has an electric home permanent machine. Permanent as permanent curl for your hair. It looked like something out of a Frankenstein movie. No one was brave enough to try it but we did get some pictures posing with the tractors.
The capper for the day is the Corn Palace. The current theme is a salute to the military. There are murals for each branch of the US military and of important events (i.e. - Iwo Jima) & organizations (i.e. - code talkers). The murals are all made from corn products (cobs, husks, silk, etc). Think of it as a Rose Bowl float that’s much bigger, doesn’t move and instead of flowers, it’s all corn based. But other than that it’s exactly like a Rose Bowl float. When one is in Mitchell, South Dakota, one must see the Corn Palace at least once!
Tomorrow we head for Sioux Falls and our third rest day of the tour. Once again, the pace at which this tour goes by has started to ramp up as we cross through the mid-section of this country. No blinking from now until we get to the Atlantic!