And yes, we took the long route.
South Dakota is one of my favorite states. It has some of the most powerful landscapes, and is home to some of my favorite authors: Kathleen Norris, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Adrian C. Louis, and Luther Standing Bear. All of those except Kathleen Norris are American Indian authors, and indeed, much of South Dakota is reservation land. But to put things in perspective, 87% of South Dakota’s population is still White American– so even South Dakota’s significant Native population is still very much in the minority. In fact, we spent much of our time driving through reservation land– including Pine Ridge Reservation, which is the poorest reservation in the U.S. (Check out how many of the poorest counties in the country lie within South Dakota).
Interlude: A Herd Of Bison!
A herd of bison is a pretty magnificent site, especially to a coastal person (we saw this herd in Custer State Park). But it’s also a heartbreaking site, to think about how tiny their current population is compared to pre-European settlement. Did you know that there used to be bison up to the Western slopes of Appalachia?! I can’t imagine Appalachia with bison on one side… (click for full view)
Crossing from South Dakota into Minnesota is crossing from the 13th poorest state in the US to the 12th richest state. And let me tell you, it’s a visible difference. Both states are flippin’windy as hell, but the moment that you cross the border into Minnesota, there are wind turbines in every field. I wish there was a way for SD reservations to invest in wind power instead of casinos– it would make for a much longer, healthier economy.
We spent a looong day driving from Winona, Minnesota to Nappannee, Indiana. Thus, I don’t have many pictures of Wisconsin or Illinois. Based off of our route, it seems like lots of urban sprawl/suburbia, and industrial corn farms. But there are certainly pockets of culture and secret places to discover, maybe for the next time we drive through.
After three nights of camping in state parks, we treated ourselves to a bed and breakfast. In fact, we (unknowingly) selected the kitschiest, gaudiest, ornate B&B east of the Mississippi. The snapshots above are just a taste of the decor that was… wholly overwhelming.
But then, you know, a tiny Ohio farm is always renewing to a road-exhausted soul.
Pig butts are so cute.
(sketches have been postponed to another post; this was exhausting!)