Fifth Wedding Anniversary Part I: The Wall Drug Phenomenon

Good Day to All!

The fourth of July, 2014, was the celebration of my five year wedding anniversary to my husband Adlai. In celebration of this event, we decided to go camping in South Dakota. We chose South Dakota for a couple of reasons, one, I have never been there and I am on a quest to visit all 50 states—I have seven more to go. And two, I love the mountains. And since I used to live in Colorado, I wanted to visit mountainous terrain other than than the Rocky Mountains, plus, South Dakota was relatively close—if you call nine hours by car close.

My handsome hubby and I are starting our trip west.

My handsome hubby and I are starting our trip west.

Co-pilot checking in for duty!

Co-pilot checking in for duty!

We said good bye to our kitties and left on Tuesday evening. We began driving west on I-90, and we were astounded by all the wind farms in western Minnesota. There were literally hundreds and hundreds along the way.

Southwestern Minnesota has hundreds of Wind Farms.

Southwestern Minnesota has hundreds of Wind Farms.

We had predetermined that we would drive to Sioux Falls on Tuesday evening. When we arrived some four hours later, we stayed pretty close to I-90 so we could get on the road early and without a long drive back to the interstate on Wednesday morning. This meant there were not many choices for food and lodging. We found a cheap sleep called Cloud Nine and ate the local Perkins. I have never been a lodging snob. I have traveled alone a few times, and I would stay in hostels. I figured a person doesn’t spend much time in a hotel, it’s mainly for sleep and washing up, as long as the rooms are clean. Don’t get me wrong, I have stayed at some lovely places too when I traveled for business purposes, and it’s AWESOME to have lots of amenities.

We were on the road by 8ish the next morning. The drive in eastern South Dakota isn’t very desirable, but it didn’t bother me. I love road trips and I was entertained by all the signs along the highway for Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. So, I started snapping photos of all the Wall Drug signs. Now, I could bore you with the ridiculous quantity of Wall Drug signs I took pictures of, but I don’t think you would be as amused unless you were actually making the journey. So, I’ll pick and choose a few for you.

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We were completely entertained by this phenomenon of signage, so, we both decided it was necessary to stop along the way to see what all the hubbub was about. As we discussed what we thought we would find at Wall Drug, we soon saw signs for the Corn Palace. Another phenomenon that sounded intriguing. A palace made from corn. Ok. So we decided to stop there too.

Almost there!

Almost there!

We made it to the Corn Palace.

We made it to the Corn Palace.

Corn Art!

Corn Art!

We weren’t in a hurry to get to our campsite because we started early in the morning and had about 5 hours to go. So, all the little stops along the way were a much needed break from the long, mostly straight and flat road we were driving on. When we arrived at the Corn Palace, it was a little misleading. And by a little misleading, I actually mean a lot misleading. The Corn Palace was a normal building with large corn murals on the outside. When we walked inside it was similar to a fair minus the dirt floor. It’s like people had a set up shop for a week or so to sell little trinkets to make enough money to buy food and to make it to the next town to sell their goodies. All the display shelves were standing on a basketball court. It was a corn product gift shop during the day and basketball court by night…hmmmm. Not impressed. We weren’t there any longer than 20 minutes and we hit the open road. Again, shooting pictures of Wall Drug signs. I hope Wall Drug had a cure for this photo snapping disease.

One more. I couldn't resist.

One more. I couldn’t resist.

We finally arrived at Wall Drug around lunch time. We ate at the cafe and then took a look around. The aroma from the cafe was intoxicating. It was the smell of a sweet bakery. Taking a closer look we saw doughnuts. Lots and lots of doughnuts. Apparently that was a Wall Drug specialty. Unfortunately, I don’t care for doughnuts, plus I needed more substance than a sugary delight.

Wall-Drug-Sign

We stood in line and ordered at the register and took our receipt with order number to a table where there were large paintings of cowboys, Indians and important female figures. We ate in silence. We didn’t get the “super size” version of breakfast at McDonald’s that morning and both of us were hungry. I ate a veggie burger and a salad with blue cheese, yum! And Adlai had a buffalo burger and french fries. He didn’t share one fry with me. I was kind of sad. There I was sitting french fryless waiting for him to offer, but he didn’t.

I silently forgave him for not sharing his fries and we started our tour of all the shops at Wall Drug. We started in the store next to the cafe. There were tons of tchotchkes ranging from shot glasses to t-shirts to jackalopes and jewelry. There was such an array of goodies, but none really seemed like something we should spend our money on. Instead we found two good looking townies for a photo-op.

Adlai's new friend.

Adlai’s new friend.

 

Nicole's new friend!

Nicole’s new friend!

We shopped around a bit more, but didn’t buy a thing. So we decided to continue west on I-90. We only had a about an hour left in the car and we wanted to get to Rapid City to buy groceries and get our campsite set up.

We picked up some chicken and veggie burgers, corn, lunch meat, lettuce, mustard and bread for for sandwiches and cherries and applesauce to get our daily intake of fruit. We rolled in to Mystery Mountain Resort around 2ish and began setting up camp. First, we set up the tent, then blew up the air mattress and got the canopy set up in case of rain.

Our home away from home!

Our home away from home!

Nicole at camp

We finally made it!

We walked around the campgrounds and located the bathrooms and showers. It was clean and well kept and I was thankful for that. They also had a pool, a hot tub and a small visitor center with maps, water, food and a few camping supplies.

The main office at Mystery Mountain Resort.

The main office at Mystery Mountain Resort.

The Mountain Grill offered breakfast burritos, scrambled eggs, pancakes and biscuits.

The Mountain Grill offered breakfast burritos, scrambled eggs, pancakes and biscuits.

A little touch of home.

A little touch of home.

That evening we cooked chicken on the tripod grill over an open fire. We had corn on the cob as a side dish. The corn was sweet and delish! We finished off the evening with S’mores! Overall it was a fun day, but we were tired and needed to rejuvenate for day two, so, we crawled into our tent to catch a few hours of sleep.

Have you been on any roadtrips lately?

What are your thoughts about traveling by car? Would you rather fly?

Make it a great day!

~Nicole

 

 

 

 

 

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Another Creative Outlet

Good Day to All!

In an effort to appease the many aspects of my creative side, my friend Denise and I went to Canvas and Chardonnay in Rochester last Sunday to paint a love-themed painting and drink a little wine. Denise is a lovely woman, and we reside in the same community. She recently opened up a yoga studio and has had great success. Although I have only been to one of her classes, due to schedule conflicts, I love what she is doing for our community.

She teaches yoga to people of all ages, children, adults and seniors.  And, in late June she hosted a customer appreciation night for members of the community. The event was a timed, closed 30 minute yoga session. And by closed I mean, I was covering the event for the local newspaper and I showed up at 6:15 instead of 6 p.m. and the door was locked. There was a sign that read, yoga in session, please return at 6:30.

I thought it was wonderful that she cared enough about these women, who attended the event, to ensure they were getting a night of relaxation and enjoyment. It was the perfect event. Not only did she offer yoga, but she invited two lovely gals from a local spa to come and provide mini-facials. I so wanted to be a part of all this pampering…sigh. But alas, I took out my notebook and jotted down a few notes and quotes from ladies who attended.

I did mill around the snack tray and boy did I enjoy some of the best blueberry cheese that I have ever tasted. I thought to myself that the wine being served would have been excellent with the offering of cheese, crackers and raspberries. I later found out the cheese was from Hy-Vee—I must go buy some soon.

While the ladies waited for their mini-facials, there was a woman from Camy Couture, a boutique in Rochester, who had a rack of clothing, jewelry, wallets and other trinkets. She was helping women accessorize some of the clothing and chatting with them about her store in Rochester. The owner of Simple Soaps was also there. She had homemade goat’s milk soap for sale. Denise also sells Prana yoga apparel at her studio, so that was available also.

Kim Shea, owner of Camy Couture, set up shop at Denise's free yoga event!

Kim Shea, owner of Camy Couture, set up shop at Denise’s free yoga event!

This post may seem like like I got a little side tracked, but I wanted to provide background on  Denise and her yoga studio, because at this free yoga event, I proposed doing some art classes in the space adjacent to her yoga studio. I proposed a kid’s art project and something similar to Canvas and Chardonnay for adults. She was thrilled with the idea, which made me excited too.

In the excitement, she thought it would be a good idea for us to attend a painting session at Canvas and Chardonnay so that we could see how it was organized. So we did.

I arrived first last Sunday evening and saved us seats next to each other. I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio and filled my paper plate or paint palette with the allotted paint colors. There was a shelf with the 4 colors needed to complete the painting. The art teacher at Canvas and Chardonnay had it measured out for everyone, four pumps of Burnt Sienna, two pumps of black, 3 pumps of red and 4 pumps of white. I went back to my seat and put my apron on. They had two brushes laid out for us, and a mason jar full of water and one napkin to dry our brushes.

A clean slate.

When I was settled in, Denise and her daughter arrived. They each organized their palette and we waited for class to start. There wasn’t much time for chit chat, but we commented on a few of the paintings hanging on the wall and talked about which paintings we liked and which paintings would be easy to teach.

About that time, the teacher, CiCi, introduced herself. She was bubbly and happy. She had on a beautiful, long cobalt blue dress. She had a darling headband on that gave her that bohemian flair. She was the perfect instructor. She talked about not judging your work and loosening up and being free, especially when painting the background.

CiCi started showing and demonstrating how to lay the background on the canvas using the larger brush. The strokes were free, yet had crosshatching action. The edges of the painting we used the Burnt Sienna and a smidge of black if we wanted it a little darker. Then, as we moved toward the middle of the paper, we used more white to give the illusion of a setting sun on the horizon.

We started with the Burnt Sienna and moved to the reddish maroon hills.

We started with the Burnt Sienna and moved to the reddish maroon hills.

Once the background was painted, we all had an opportunity to wash out our brushes at the sink and refill the water in the mason jar. It was kind of a mini intermission. Then, we painted the lower portion of the background. It was a hillside. The hillside was red with touches of black to create a shadowy maroon color.

Next was the tree. We used our smaller round brush for this task. We started by painting the long, main limbs and then adding curly cues to the main branches. We added girth to the trunk and then painted the two birds sitting on the branch. CiCi instructed us to make upside down tear drops for the body, small circles for the head and triangles for the tail. Then we wrote “love” up in the corner of the painting.

Now we add the subject of the painting.

Now we add the subject of the painting.

The final step was to add small hearts to all the branches of the tree. This was simple. She instructed us to make a “V” shape with the brush and voila, we had a hearts. We snapped a few pictures and came away from the class with one totally cute painting and the knowledge to create this same type of event at the yoga studio.

Finished!

Finished!

Stay tuned…there will be a fun painting event coming up!

Does anyone have creative outlets they need to feed?

Stay Strong in all that you do!

~Nicole