Mall of America

Mall of America

Mall of America was never on my bucket list. It’s a bit too commercial, crowded and over stimulating for my senses. It took a hot and humid day in Minneapolis to get me to check it out, and perhaps enjoy some A/C. My first surprise was that the Mall was decidedly uncrowded. I enjoyed walking several “cool” miles inside without any hustle or bustle.

SEA LIFE Aquarium

My favorite part of the mall was the SEA LIFE aquarium. There were thousands of sea creatures including sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, jellyfish, seahorses and more!

St. Paul Cathedral

The commanding site of St. Paul’s Cathedral sits on the edge of a bluff. In a biblical context, it can be seen as permitting the House of God to look down, literally and symbolically, on moneychangers (as represented by downtown St. Paul) and Caesar (as represented by the state capitol).

The interior abounds in color—marble, metalwork, stained glass, and painting. There are at least twenty-five varieties of marble on display from nine countries. Their colors range from radiant red (Rojo Alicante from Spain in the Sacred Heart Chapel) to deep green (Tinos from Greece in the vestibules) to a black flecked with gold (Portora from Italy in the baldachin columns.)

An unusual feature of the cathedral is the Shrine of Nations: six chapels arrayed in a semicircle behind the altar, installed 1926–1928. These commemorate ethnic groups that contributed labor and money to the Cathedral project: Irish, French Canadian, Italian, German, and Slavic. A sixth, of St. Therese, represents other ethnic groups in general. Each contains a central statue of a patron saint, two flanking stained glass windows, and, in the floor, a circular slab of marble from the country.

Willow Falls

I really enjoyed sitting and watching the activity at. Willow Falls, located in Willow River State Park, in Hudson, WI. In 1924 a dam was built here which diverted all the water from the main falls and drowned the upper drops. In 1992 the dam was removed, restoring the falls. It also restored the impressive gorge. There are still some remnants of the old dam, such as the main pipe through which the water was once diverted, but for the most part the area has been returned to its natural state.

Most entertaining was a barefoot young man who crossed the falls back and forth a couple of times. Once a lifeguard, always a lifeguard, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He slipped a couple of times, but never fell. I wondered why he would do this. Finally he climbed out of eyesight so I took this as a good time to start my hike out up a very steep trail. Much to my surprise, the young man overtook me on the trail as he ran up, now wearing running shoes, leaving me in a cloud of dust. Perhaps all the falls traversing was in training for an Ironman event.

Little Falls Lake is Back!

In 2019 I visited Little Falls Lake in Willow River State Park in Hudson, WI, only it wasn’t there. (see Blog posted 8/1/19 “Where’s the Lake”). My curiosity demanded that I come back. 2 years later The lake is here, although there is a big blue-green algae bloom. My luck isn’t very good with this Lake. I’m 0 for 2 for wading in it. I will try again in a month before I start my migration south for the winter.

Side Note: I wonder what happened to the creatures that moved in to the prairie when the lake was gone. While the lake is the highlight of the State Park, what’s best for the natural inhabitants?

Corn Palace

Mitchell Corn Palace

In 1892 Mitchell, SD was a small, 12-year-old city of 3,000 inhabitants. In order to compete with neighboring Plankinton’s Grain Palace, Mitchell built the World’s Only Corn Palace on the city’s Main Street. By 1905 the success of the Corn Palace had been assured and a new Palace was to be built, but this building soon became too small. In 1919, the decision to build a third Corn Palace was made. This one was to be permanent and more purposeful than its predecessors. The present building was completed in 1921, just in time for the Corn Palace festivities.

The Palace is redecorated each year with naturally colored corn and other grains and native grasses to make it “the agricultural show-place of the world”. They currently use 12 different shades of corn to decorate the Corn Palace: red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and green corn! A different theme is chosen each year, and murals are designed to reflect that theme. Ear by ear the corn is nailed to the Corn Palace to create a scene.

Palisades State Park

Palisades State Park

Palisades State Park is a cute little state park and is one of the most unique areas in South Dakota. Split Rock Creek, which flows through the park, is lined with Sioux quartzite formations varying from shelves several feet above the water to 50-foot vertical cliffs. Scenic overlooks and rushing water make Palisades a popular getaway. The park is located just south of Garretson, 10 miles off I-90. At only 157 acres it is South Dakota’s second-smallest state park.

Pioneers settled in the area beginning in 1865. In the 1870s Split Rock Creek was harnessed to power a large flour and feed mill, and a town called Palisades formed around it. Silver was discovered shortly downstream in 1886, prompting a short-lived silver rush but the ore was found to be low quality. Three years later Garretson became a railroad junction and most of Palisades relocated to the north. A steel truss bridge built over Split Rock Creek in 1908 is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Steel Truss Bridge

Sioux Falls Park

Big Sioux

The history of Sioux Falls revolves around the cascades of the Big Sioux River. The falls were created about 14,000 years ago during the last ice age. The lure of the falls has been a powerful influence. Ho-Chunk, Ioway, Otoe, Missouri, Omaha (and Ponca at the time), Quapaw, Kansa, Osage, Arikira, Dakota, and Cheyenne people inhabited and settled the region previous to Europeans and European descendants. Numerous burial mounds still exist on the high bluffs near the river and are spread throughout the general vicinity.

Currently, the area is suffering a draught, the water level was much lower than expected.

Last time I was here I was 10, proudly wearing a turquoise cowgirl hat and a Ballard Bulldog sweatshirt (my grammar school) standing next to my sister.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

I had the best day yesterday at the Badlands. The weather was cooler, there was a nice breeze, and clouds gave a break to the solstice sun. I saw bighorn sheep, bison, prairie dogs, and a ton of swallows. My favorite sensory moment was hearing the sound of the wind through the grass.

Vast grassland

The Lakota gave this land its name, “Mako Sica,” meaning “land bad.” Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. It is desolation at its truest, where you can look for miles and see no sign of civilization.

No sign of civilization

This land has been so ruthlessly ravaged by wind and water that it has become picturesque. The Badlands are a wonderland of bizarre, colorful spires and pinnacles, massive buttes and deep gorges. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash).

Sedimentary levels

Badlands National Park also preserves the world’s greatest fossil beds of animals from the Oligocene Epoch of the Age of Mammals. The skeletons of ancient camels, three-toed horses, saber-toothed cats and giant rhinoceros-like creatures are among the many fossilized species found here. All fossils, rocks, plants and animals are protected and must remain where you find them. Prehistoric bones are still being uncovered today by park officials.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

I had the best day yesterday at the Badlands. The weather was cooler, there was a nice breeze, and clouds gave a break to the solstice sun. I saw bighorn sheep, bison, prairie dogs, and a ton of swallows. My favorite sensory moment was hearing the sound of the wind through the grass.

Vast grassland

The Lakota gave this land its name, “Mako Sica,” meaning “land bad.” Located in southwestern South Dakota, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. It is desolation at its truest, where you can look for miles and see no sign of civilization.

No sign of civilization

This land has been so ruthlessly ravaged by wind and water that it has become picturesque. The Badlands are a wonderland of bizarre, colorful spires and pinnacles, massive buttes and deep gorges. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash).

Sedimentary levels

Badlands National Park also preserves the world’s greatest fossil beds of animals from the Oligocene Epoch of the Age of Mammals. The skeletons of ancient camels, three-toed horses, saber-toothed cats and giant rhinoceros-like creatures are among the many fossilized species found here. All fossils, rocks, plants and animals are protected and must remain where you find them. Prehistoric bones are still being uncovered today by park officials.

Jewel Cave

Beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota is the intriguing underground world of Jewel Cave. With over 202 miles of explored passageways, Jewel Cave ranks as one of the longest caves in the world. The cave was discovered at the turn of the century by brothers passing through Hell Canyon. Brilliant color and fragile rocks reveal an amazing ecosystem not visible anywhere else. The third longest cave in the world has much to offer to a wide range of those interested in its natural glory.

Above Jewel Cave