We arrived at the Spam Museum late in the afternoon, and it was a lot of fun for our last stop of the trip. We first watched the video and then used all the hands on exhibits throughout the Museum. Cathy and the boys took the Spam Quiz and Cathy won 6 to 5.
Mitchell, South Dakota was our first stop of the day, to visit “The Corn Palace”. We arrived shortly after 10am and started our visit with a 15 minute video on the history of the Palace. All the murals on the outside of the building are changed every year while the ones inside never change but the corn is replaced every 10-12 years as the colors fade. They use about 12 varieties of colored corn for the murals and the cobs are sawed in half and nailed to the boards that the murals are on.
Our next stop was in Wall, South Dakota. We arrived, did some shopping, and had dinner. This is an interesting place with lots for the kids to do. They have an arcade where the boys did some shooting and played some video games. This started as a small drug store and grew over the years to cover about half the downtown section of Wall and has become a major tourist attraction.
Today we drove to the “Devils Tower” in Wyoming. They have a really nice picnic area there so we stopped there first and had our lunch. After eating we drove up to the tower and checked out the visitor’s center. We then took the 1 ½ mile walk around the base of the tower. Today there were a few people climbing up the base of the tower but no one was climbing the sheer face. You have to have a permit and be an experienced climber to go above the base. While here we saw a ton of motorcycles. The town of Sturgis has a rally every year and the 2010 one is coming up this week.
As we were driving along towards Missoula, Montana we saw a sign for a Historical Ranger Station in the Lolo National Forest so we decided to check it out since it was only 4 miles off the highway and the kids needed a break from riding.
While at the ranger station we saw an ad for the Montana Smoke Jumpers Museum that was 20 miles up the highway. The boys really wanted to stop and see this and, since it was on our way , we stopped. We took the 2pm tour and it lasted about an hour. We saw the “ready room” where the firefighters store their gear so it’s ready at a moments notice. We also saw where they hang the parachutes after a jump to be inspected and repaired if necessary and also the room where they repack the parachutes after use. Outside we saw the plane they use for dropping water and fire retardants on the forest fires and the plane they use to fly the firefighters and their equipment to the site of the fire. All the backpacks and gear made from fabric other than the parachutes are made by the firefighters during their shifts when they aren’t fighting a fire so they all have to learn to sew.
Today we went to the winery here on the island to do some taste testing and, of course, buy some wine.
Next we went to the Alpaca Farm to see the animals and check out the gift shop. The Alpaca yarn is beautiful but very costly. It’s $25.00 for about 250 yards-enough for a pair of mittens or two pair of socks. Most of the yarn there is imported but they did have some that came from their own Alpacas and those skeins have a tag on them showing which Alpaca it came from.