Day 8 Summary
Grand Island, Nebraska to Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Grand Island reminded me a lot of another "grand" city I know – Grand Forks. Both cities are quite comparable in size, and both are set amidst a highly productive agricultural region that nevertheless offers little in the way of majestic scenery. Likewise, Grand Island's residential areas were also much like Grand Forks', in that quiet neighborhood streets lined with sidewalks and soaring shade trees led to what looked to be well-kept houses and yards. The only real difference between Grand Island and Grand Forks that I could spot was near downtown Grand Island, where most of the signs on the storefronts were either bilingual or written entirely in Spanish. Unlike Grand Forks, Grand Island – and a lot of eastern Nebraska, as I would later find out – has a sizable Hispanic population.
One tangible object that I hope will make me remember my visit to Grand Island is a white pine that I found on sale at the city’s Home Depot. Since I have sort of been looking to get a white pine for a while to complete the collection of evergreen trees I inadvertently started in my backyard a couple years ago, I thought I was pretty lucky to just happen to spot one for sale 430 miles away in Nebraska.
After buying the tree and spending some more time poking around Grand Island, it was time to get on U.S. Highway 30 to head to Columbus, another one of the larger cities in eastern Nebraska (population 20,971).
U.S. Highway 81 was the road that took me out of Columbus and to Norfolk, the home of Johnny Carson and another large eastern Nebraska city (population 23,946). After Norfolk, the countryside turns much more rural. It also becomes a little hillier, as there is no river valley in the area that has worked to flatten the terrain.
About 60 miles north of Norfolk, the road finally passes into the tall bluffs that surround the Missouri River, which happens to form the border of Nebraska and South Dakota.
Situated right next to the river (and the border), Yankton is the first South Dakota city that U.S. Highway 81 passes through. Arriving in the city via 81 is a little interesting, as the bridge that crosses the Missouri appeared to be a former one-lane bridge that was turned into two-lanes by making it a double-decker and placing the southbound lane of traffic directly above the northbound.
Yankton seemed like a great city with numerous parks and green areas. I especially would have liked to explore this one park I spotted that had numerous ducks and geese swimming around what looked like a man-made creek, but I chose to limit outdoor activities because the temperature at the time was hovering around a blistering 102°F.
As I was traveling the 25 miles on South Dakota Highway 50 between Yankton and Vermillion, some sort of front passed through. The sky turned cloudy, and it cooled off to about 93°F, just a comfortable enough temperature to enjoy a bit of a walk around the University of South Dakota campus by the time I got to Vermillion.
USD’s campus sure had some interesting, old buildings, most of them undoubtedly dating back to at least the early 20th century. I also enjoyed the many birds and squirrels that seemed to come up and greet me while walking around the main part of campus. Not surprisingly, there were more animals than people hanging around campus on what was an extremely quiet Sunday evening in July.
I actually really liked the city of Vermillion, too. It’s got the feeling of being an old town along the bluffs of the Missouri steeped in a rich history. And with a population of 9,765 (only slightly larger than the full-time enrollment at the university), the city would likely be a cozy place to go to school.
From Vermillion, it’s an easy 50 mile drive to the most populous city in South Dakota: Sioux Falls. That’s where I ended up on day 8 of my vacation.
Typical scenery along U.S. Highway 30 east of Grand Island
The park in the middle of downtown Columbus included this mounument dedicated to veterans of the Civil War
Columbus also had this neat sundial that is actually on top of a time capsule to be opened in 2036
I got a kick out of these signs all over Columbus that implied trespassing in the city is acceptable at all times but between 3am and 6am
The road north of Norfolk
The Missouri River in Yankton - that's all Nebraska off in the distance
The double-decker bridge that goes over the border of South Dakota and Nebraska
The following seven photos were taken on the University of South Dakota campus
The Shakespeare Garden - the fountain says "class of 1924"
I enjoyed this tile mural above the back door to the chemistry building
The modern looking administration building
...and East Hall are two examples of the gorgeous old buildings on campus
A mourning dove takes a stroll down one of the sidewalks
I loved this cacti garden - I wonder if somebody plants something like this every year
Low-grade camcorder pictures:
Nebraska is one of those states that uses horizontal stop lights
Welcome to South Dakota - this sign is located a few hundred feet into Nebraska
The double-decker bridge that crosses the Missouri into Yankton
Along the Missouri River