Bonus day

First today I’ll share something that the people who follow Deb and me on social media already know — after the sun went down last night we (Deb, the dogs and I) drove up to Mitchell to see The World’s Only Corn Palace at night.

Nobody does that, I figured. Most travelers probably aren’t inclined to venture into an old downtown where the sidewalks are rolled up well before dark. Just the thought of doing what few others do made the two-mile trip worth it.

And I was right. We had the street pretty much all to ourselves. The Corn Palace was a breathtaking sight — its domes and parapets and murals bathed in colored lights, this work of Heartland art taking on an entirely different character than what most folks will ever see.

Mission accomplished.

Almost all of the city of Mitchell is to the north of I-90 — the old town, the rail yard, most long-standing businesses and the residential areas. South of the Interstate has seen a lot of commercial growth over the last 20 years. There are several big-box retailers, lodging, dining and such.

One of the district’s anchors is Cabela’s, which opened a respectable store there in 2001. It’s not among the brand’s bigger outlets, like the one we’ve patronized in Tridelphia, West Virginia, but rather more like the Columbus store built in 2013.

We stopped by the Mitchell Cabela’s today, just to browse. The cavernous and well-kept interior gave us what we’ve come to expect — taxidermy, waterfall, aquarium, gun library and the usual displays of outdoor gear. Cabela’s never has quite matched the wonderful excess of Bass Pro (which now owns the brand), but still it’s an impressive space.

What shocked us — and that’s not too strong a word for it — is that the parking lots surrounding the building, designed to accommodate thousands of vehicles, today were virtually empty. We counted two dozen cars and trucks. Out back were a couple of RVs, flouting the “no overnight parking” signs.

I know, Cabela’s was in trouble, irresponsibly over-leveraged, long before Johnny Morris picked it up in 2017. But the scene today was downright disturbing. We made a couple of small purchases and moved on with our day.

This turned into yet another wrap-up day. We ran errands, back-filled groceries and supplies we’ll need for the next couple of legs and, as usual, got a head start on tomorrow’s tear-down chores. It’s become a familiar transition from planted to mobile, a stress-free exercise now.

It’s been dry out here this year, bona fide drought conditions, and dealing with the resulting dust is a way of life. Between our Missouri and Nebraska stops a week ago, in fact, we drove a section of Interstate that was totally socked-in by dust kicked up by vehicles driving on a parallel frontage road. It was like hitting a bank of dense fog.

Ernie is filthy, of course, and bright-orange Mercy took on a “Creamsicle” hue. There’s not much we can do to get the bus clean, but today we did run the Jeep through one of those “touchless” car washes.

No, the soft top isn’t exactly watertight. But yes, Mercy looks better.

Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we’ve had a couple of great meals in the last 24 hours. Yesterday we’d intended to dine at The Depot, located by the rail yard, but they closed their kitchen early — maybe ’cause it was slow, maybe ’cause it was a Sunday — so we had to find something else.

That “something else” turned out to be one of the best meals we’ve had in a while, at a little Mexican family restaurant called “Corona Village.” (Seriously.) Killer margaritas, too.

This afternoon we returned to The Depot, which is housed in the old (as in 1908) Mitchell railroad station. I had the “Dilly Burger” (topped with “pickle fries” and dill ranch) and a lager brewed by Fernson in Sioux Falls. Excellent.

We’re settling in for the evening now and, we hope, a good night’s sleep. We roll again in the morning.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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