Friday, August 30, 2013
South Dakota: The Corn Palace
Growing up, I had parents that loved nothing better than to pack up the car during the summer and head west on epic vacations. I've visited almost every state west of the Mississippi and seen most of the big name attractions like Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Tetons, Giant Sequoias just to name a few. Coming from a mostly lush green state (though not so much these last couple years), I always enjoyed the earth tones of the west and have good memories of driving through the lands to explore far off places.
Then college, marriage and life happened and suddenly I find myself searching for the last long drive I had out west and it occurred nearly two decades ago. I've been out west many times over the last two decades but always by airplane so I've been limited to destination type vacations instead of epic tours. With three guests still around our place, we decided that a tour was in order and decided on a shorter tour out west to see some of the sights I had seen in my youth (and none of my guests, wife and children have ever seen) and perhaps see some I hadn't seen. We decided on South Dakota and the next several posts will chronicle some of our journey which took place in mid August before my eldest went back to school.
The first place we stopped at along our drive out west was the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Now I've heard of the corn palace many times but never really had any desire to see it. I heard it had corn, wheat and other crops stuff to the outside and figured that it was done merely to create a tourist trap along an interstate which the west seems notorious for. While it was somewhat of a tourist trap, it was tastefully done and I'm glad I stopped.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was actually a very ornate building covered with grains that are redone every year to create new scenes and of course, attract people to come back for a visit. It was also a much bigger building that I anticipated as you can see in the first two pictures. I had expected the inside to be full of gift shops, food vendors, and other people working hard to separate me from my money. Although it did have a gift shop of sorts, the main purpose of the building seemed to be a community civic center. I was also surprised to see that the grain murals also continued to the walls inside.
I walked around the sides of the building taking pictures of the murals and pondering them as very well done works of art. Then I went inside to look at a few of the pictures of the corn palace in its various shapes and sizes (it has evidently expanded many times over the years) and the various murals its walls have been adorned with. I then made the obligatory pass through of the gift shop above that mostly carried the tourist type gifts I expected. Does anyone really get a shot glass from every place they visit? Although I didn't get anything, I did buy my daughter a cheap bow and arrow set for some entertainment in our motel room evenings and I was tempted to buy a pheasant pelt seen below. I've never seen anyone make a pelt out of a pheasant but I thought the ones below were done pretty well. I'm just not sure what I would have done with one because the seem kind of small for a rug. So I just took the picture below and walked out with most of my money still intact.