Saturday, September 15, 2007

Day 19: "I see dead people..."

Greetings from Fort Dodge, Iowa...

Today we began the day by visiting the "Dairyette", a small ice cream and burger shack a block west of Grandma Rudolphs childhood home on S 2nd Ave. Legend has it that Grandpa Rudolph tried to buy the business when he was a young man but could not get anyone to go in with him on the deal... so his ice cream dynasty never came about.

The shack closed yesterday for the season so we had to settle for McDonalds for lunch.

The highlight of the day was when Deb knocked on the door of her grandfather's home and was allowed to enter and see it again... she came out after a few minutes in tears and asked me to come in and take photos.

To our surprise and satisfaction, the home has been kept in near perfect condition by the catholic church that purchased it for a convent over twenty years ago.

I was especially impressed with the woodworking and hardwood floors... they were obviously built by a master craftman...

Next we visited the Fort Dodge Museum. My grandfather served here in 1918 during World War I. He apparently thought it was a good idea to take a swing at an officer for calling him "shorty". He was assigned to KP for his offense. During his KP duty, he noticed that the horse that belonged to the commander's wife was lame. He told the officer that he could fix the horse... and he did. Thereafter, he apparently was a quite popular soldier in the fort. He served his time as a blacksmith.

Most of the afternoon we spent in the North Lawn Cemetery discovering the gravesites of many of Debra's ancesters... and there are many, many of them.

Joy, your mother got out of the car to begin her search and the first gravesite she found was Johanna (Becker) Rahmann... I could not believe it and neither could she! She was like a kid on Christmas morning.

This is the gravesite of her grandfather and both of her grandmothers...

This is the gravesite of a famous band director that lived and performed here in Fort Dodge.

Tomorrow we are going to visit with Lois, Grandma Rudolph's cousin and are anticipating many great stories.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Day 17 and 18: Badlands and Lots of Corn

We have finally arrived in Fort Dodge, Iowa and Deb is like a little kid at Christmas...

Yesterday we left John and Sue's home in Rapid City and headed for Iowa.

However, not to far out of town, we started to see many, many billboards advertising a place called Wall Drug... in Wall, SD.

We decided to take the detour and see what it was all about.

It was a fun place with all kinds of shops and fun things to do... and they have free ice water... the whole reason why the place exists... for the story, google Wall Drug.

Deb had fun riding the many attractions and

I had fun with the local gals.

I had a buffalo dog for lunch... it was not a J Dawg but it was good none-the-less.

We started towards Iowa again...

However, we decided to take another detour through Badlands National Park and we are glad we did.

The landscapes are amazing... like nothing we have ever seen before... except the fake ones in Disneyland.

The colors changed all day long as the sun moved across the sky. We took all day to travel through thr park end to end.

Then we turned around and went back to the beginning so I could get some photos in the warm evening light... it was worth the wait.

After watching a beautiful sunset in the Pinnacles area of the park, we headed towards Iowa again.

We didn't make it as we decided to spend the night in Oacoma, SD.

This morning we headed out again and were detoured one more time when we saw a sign for a place called the Corn Palace...

It is just what it sounds like...

The outside of the building has been decorated every year since 1892 with murals made out of corn...

They are in the process of changing the murals to the 2008 theme of honoring public workers... I had to take a picture of this mural... I don't know why?

The palace is an in-your-face tribute to a statement made by Lewis and Clark that said the town would never be able to raise anything... I guess they showed them.

Jayson, across the street there is a dog shack... they had a couple things that you may want to consider...

Especially the menu girl!

Finally, we arrived in Fort Dodge at about 7:30 p.m. CT and Deb was so excited...

She has not been here for over 24 years and she was so excited to see her great-grandparents home (on the left) and her grandparents home (on the right).

We will probably be here until Wednesday morning (the genealogical society that she needs to visit is only open Tuesday - Thursday), so we will explore all the museums that are here starting tomorrow. I am anxious to see the museum at the Fort Dodge because my grandfather served there during World War I as a blacksmith and a personal cook for the fort Commander (or at least I think that is the way the story goes...)


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day 15 and 16: Great Faces and Great Places!

Greetings from Rapid City, South Dakota!

Yesterday, we got up early and after eating breakfast at Irma's, we set out for John and Sue's home in Rapid City.

Along the way, we saw some of the most beautiful scenery that we have seen thus far!

We took a route through the Big Horn Mountains and it was incredible... it just took your breath away at every turn.

There had been a very recent wildfire and we saw helicopters making water drops on the hot spots.

The photos speak for themselves though they do not do justice to the beauty of the area.

(Craig, this is the place, buddy... we have been right all along... Wyoming is the prettiest place I have ever seen... I am ready!)

We got to Rapid City at dinnertime and Sue had a great meal waiting for us. We met Joseph (Mel's new husband) for the first time and he is a great guy. We visited for awhile and retired early (for us anyway) so we couldget up early for our adventure today.

Today we went Mt. Rushmore. Before we went to the monument, we went to a little museum in Keystone that told the story of the man who created the monument, John Gutzon Borglum. It was well worth the visit to see how it was done.

We then went to the monument and it was incredible. As usual, photos do not do justice to the majesty of this work.

We decided the monument could be improved by adding the busts of two more great American Republicans... What do you think?

After we left Rushmore, we decided to drive to the Crazy Horse monument just outside Custer. Somehow we took a route that took us through a very out-of-the-way drive through some very beautiful backwoods country.

We passed through some very cool tunnels that framed Rushmore way off in the distance... it was beautiful.

We finally arrived at Crazy Horse... it was very expensive to enter the complex so we took photos from the road... and probably saw it better from where we were.

John and Sue Live near Ellsworth AFB and a B1 Bomber flew over tonight... it was awesome.

Tonight, we went to Mel's work and ate some great pizza. Then we went home and played "Five Crowns" and "Ticket to Ride" (John played hookie from school so he could spend the evening with us). It was fun. We have had a great visit here... the Rudolph hospitality is second to none!

Tomorrow, we will start towards Fort Dodge, Iowa... Deb is about ready to wet her pants....