Friday, 26 June 2015

North by Northwest

This year for our holiday with the US branch of the family, we went to South Dakota to visit the Black Hills area. Whilst there, we intended to visit Mount Rushmore and then take a trip across the border into Wyoming to visit the Devil’s Tower. Since both of these were featured in two major movies, we had to watch Hitchcock’s North By Northwest and Spielberg’s Close Encounters, just to get in the mood.

To accommodate the five of us and our luggage, we hired a Chrysler Town and Country, which has a lot of space and comfortable roomy seating.

Although the hire car was from a local Kansas hire company, the licence plates on it were from Tennessee, which rankled a little since Americans have pride in their home state and will almost always talk to someone they meet who comes from their own state when out of state.

Now that it seemed to the world that we came from Tennessee, I just had to remind the rest of the family where we came from by saying, ‘It sure ain’t like this here, back in Tennessee.’ as we were driving through a particularly scenic area.   I have been through parts of Tennessee and the places I saw were very different, so I feel my statement was fully justified.
Starting out from Lawrence, we travelled towards Kansas City, crossed into Missouri and turned north up the i29 aiming for Sioux Falls, where we were booked into a hotel for the first night. For that day we had to travel around four hundred miles.

For the two weeks before we started out for South Dakota, the weather had been very wet and flood warnings abounded around both the Kansas River and Missouri River areas, but we were heading north and away from the worst of the rain. The air was misty with humidity and had been, and still was, much cooler than usual for the time of year.

The i29 runs up the west side of Missouri and  into Iowa following the course of the Missouri River which forms the state border.  Just over the Iowa border is a town called Hamburg, which suggests Germans settled there in the early days.
That's nice of them.

Once in Iowa the Missouri River continues to form the state border, but now between Iowa and Nebraska and about half way to Sioux City, it runs past Omaha.

There were two of these unusual sculptures one on each side of the flyover
Most of the country we travelled through was farmland, with farms that ranged from the very small to massive industrial sized farms with thousands of acres of grain fields, huge grain storage containers and silos.

A small farm

A huge farm
Now and again we would pass by a farm equipment supplier and we saw row upon row of tractors, harvesters and all the other kinds of complicated farming equipment that only someone familiar with farming could identify. Unlike the UK, where you may come across a few farm vehicles at a country show, these were ranked up like soldiers on parade and obviously there is a big demand for this kind of equipment in those farming areas.

A small collection of agricultural machinery. This shows only a small selection snapped as we drove by.  Many lots were much larger.
Towards the end of afternoon we came to Sioux City which is close to the border of Iowa and so pretty soon we crossed the border into South Dakota and continued north on to Sioux Falls where we would spend the night.

A roadside sign made from a water tower
The distance between Sioux City and Sioux Falls is about 86 miles, so in about another hour and a half we arrived at out hotel and checked in. Across the road from the hotel in Sioux Falls is a Barnes and Noble, so after Dinner, we walked across and browsed the books section.  In the store were several books by authors that are ot often found in the UK.  Trouble with book stores in the USA, is that we have a weight limit on our luggage, so I only bought a few paperbacks!

Sioux Falls is so named because of the rapids and falls found at that part of the river. The area, once a hazard to river travel has become a park area. We were not able to visit the park because we still had a long journey ahead and could not spare the time.

So in the morning we set off once more, this time heading west on the i90 towards Rapid City. From Sioux Falls to Rapid City is just under 350 miles, practically all the way across South Dakota. So that part of the trip was a journey of several hours. We were heading for a place the other side of Rapid City and would have to leave the interstate for smaller more countrified roads and we did not know exactly how long that section would take, so we needed to get going.

Next post, Day Two.


  1. Not sure how I missed all these posts. I Guess DOTH has been keeping me busier than I thought. I have not read them all yet, but will start with Day 1 and make my way through. Always love reading about your travels. "Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I'll begin..." ☺️

  2. I find it amazing that you are from the UK and have seen so much more of the States than we have!