When we last saw our intrepid travelers, they were in Minneapolis. Today, they are in Vancouver, via Rapid City, South Dakota, Helena Montana, and Richland, Washington.
From Minnesota to South Dakota we passed through gigantic farm country. Mr. Not So Curious reminded me that this is the part of the country where the Homestead Act really had an impact. Pioneers were given 640 acres, unlike Ohio where people just settled or bought much smaller farms. And those 640 acres have multiplied to thousands.
We stayed two nights in Rapid City, primarily to see Mt. Rushmore. Turns out, however, that Rapid City, South Dakota is worth two days on its own! Who knew? It has a vibrant, lively downtown with lots of shops, art galleries, restaurants, and public art, including statues of every president of the United States in life-like poses on each street corner. Rapid City, is, of course, the City of Presidents. Think Santa Fe crossed with Gatlinburg, and you have Rapid City.
Mt. Rushmore, needless to say, was definitely worth the stop. Not only is the monuments in the rock impressive, the but the National Park that surrounds the sculptures is beautiful, set in a pine forest. As with most National Parks we’ve been to, it is well run and well maintained. Our tax dollars at work!
On to Montana. We saw our first eagles and lots of casinos. Actually, they are all over the upper Mid West — I think because of all the Native American Reservations.
Turns out Helena is awful. It looks poor and depressed and has no downtown. Despite being the state capital, it seems sad.
On our way to Richland, Washington, we stop for lunch in Coeur d’Alene. CdA, as it is known to the natives, has some good and some not so good associations. This is near where Mr. Not So Curious’s daughter had her accident. But it is also a lively town, with a beautiful and large lake — big enough for beaches with lifeguards. We walk around a great neighborhood of craftsman houses, eat a delicious lunch, and head on to Richland, via the Cascades.
We take the scenic drive, which winds up the Cascades, with Mt. Ranier in the distance. Suddenly, as we come around a bend, we see the mountain, in the near distance, clouds parting just long enough for us to see almost the entire peak. The words “breath taking” come true, as we both go, “oh my goodness.” We take the photo and by the time we are around the bend, the clouds have covered the top. Here’s the photo:
On the other side of this mountain range, is Richland, Washington, a very pleasant small city on the Columbia River. We walk along the riverfront, admire the beaches and parks filled with families and enjoy the sunset over the marina.
We also had a fabulous meal in a local restaurant, Anthony’s, part of a small chain in Oregon and Washington. They specialize in seafood and we had a great meal, accompanied by outstanding Washington State wine. The interior of the restaurant was very special; I’m only sorry my poor photography skills aren’t up to the task. But take a look anyway.
And then on to Vancouver — where we’ll pick up our intrepid travelers next week.