Stargazing and Celebrating

Today is Andy’s birthday.  Lily had crawled in our bed early in the morning, and Andy had gotten up and crawled in her bed at some point.  Most of the other campers that had been in the lot seemed to be on their way early morning.  The kids and I ran into Walmart for a few supplies and birthday surprises.  Andy was pleased to wake up and say, “Rise and shine, it’s Corn Palace time!” and all in good time we packed up, fueled up, and headed out to the Corn Palace.

The Corn Palace was a bit different than I had imagined.  It was a venue for sports and other performances, and it was the exterior decor of the building that was so amazing.  It looked like a palace, and the artwork that adorns the building is made from different color corn cobs and pieces.   The inside was a huge collection of corn related tchotchkes and since it was Andy’s birthday, he splurged on a retro looking t-shirt to commemorate our visit.

Across the street, Ethan saw a sign about a “Bible Store” that he wanted to go in.  I was curious too so we popped our heads in to Valtiroty Shiloh’s Tabernacle tour of the Holy Land Museum.  It was an oddity, and the proprietors were very interesting. There were stations depicting scenes from the bible, a beautiful quilt representing creation, and we all got to taste water from the Dead Sea.  The kids received little gifts and Andy was given a copy of the book “The Great Controversy”, which I haven’t had much time to peruse, and imagine would spark some great conversation.

We grabbed a frozen lemonade for the kids and a frozen coffee for me.  On the road again, we made a pitstop into the Lewis and Clark Welcome Center.  There is a huge monument there called Dignity, which was dedicated on September 17, 2016 (which happens to be on Ethan’s birthday).  The inside had really neat interactive displays with artifacts depicting what life was like for the settlers and Indians at the time.  We gathered up our South Dakota travel brochures and trekked on.

We finally made it to the Badlands, the first of our (intentional, planned) stops.  We purchased our annual National Parks Pass and took the obligatory photo at the gate.  We stopped into the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, and the kids grabbed their Junior Ranger assignments.  We took a quick spin through, and went to drop the camper at the Badlands Interior Campground to make it out for the evening program.  The kids were pleased to see that they had a pool.  We got hooked up, turned the air on and had dinner.

The park was having an Astronomy Festival, and we happened to catch the very last night of it.  At 9pm (mountain time), we gathered in an outdoor amphitheater where several large telescopes were being set up for viewing.  The park dark ranger spoke about our planets and the likelihood of our ability to exist on other planets.

The sky was clear, and the stars magnificent.  With a laser pointer, the presenter pointed out several stars, planets and formations, including the big & small dipper, saggitarius, virgo, the scorpion, the tea kettle, cygnus, the north star, venus, and many more.  The milky way was visible and for a while after the presentation, we just laid on the benches staring up.  Even a few shooting stars (pardon…meteors) were seen!

We had the opportunity to look through the telescopes and saw the ring of Saturn and could see several of it’s moons as well as viewing Jupiter.  It was the melting point for one sleepy kiddo, and we happily went back to camp feeling blessed and content despite the bickering on the short car ride back!

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