Did You Say Go West? (chp.4) Finding the Unusual


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“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware”-Martin Buber


Courtesy of Corn Palace Visitors Center

Courtesy of Corn Palace Visitors Center

   While traveling, there are the wild, strange and the unusual to be found. For me, a unique site that I discovered was The World’s Only Corn Palace, 604 N. Main St. in Mitchell, SD.

    An estimated 500,000 tourists from all over the United States and beyond, travel to this small area of the state to view the unique corn murals. Originally, this introduced South Dakota’s agricultural climate as strong and healthy.

Westward bound 536   In 1892, the World’s Only Corn Palace was established on the city’s Main Street. The present structure is home to the Corn Palace Festival with fall festival celebration in late August every year. The building is also available for local exhibits, dances, stage shows, meetings, banquets, prom’s and graduations that take place throughout the year.

     It is said that over 275,000 ears of corn are used in the design of the murals. All colors, red, brown, black, blue, white, orange, calico, yellow and green, to name a few of the twelve, are grown naturally. In the process of the designs, various grains, rye, oat heads and sour dock are used. Each year, a Corn Palace Festival Committee selects a new theme. Through the talented hands of local artists, these interesting works of art come to life.

Courtesy of Corn Palace Visitors Center

Courtesy of Corn Palace Visitors Center

     The decorating process starts in late May. By August, the murals are stripped to make way for new ones  completed by the first of October.

For those interested in current or future events in the area can visit http://www.visitmitchell.com The 2014 theme is, “Remember When.” http://www.cornpalace.com.

Did you Say Go West? (chp. 3) Art and Play


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Creativity abound

Creativity abound

Of all the places I see, large and small, town or cites I never tire of the wonderful and creative ideas people present to the world.

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures”-Henry Ward Beecher 

It could be an exceptional business or a quirky idea that someone conceived and proved that it could work. Tinkertopia is that business. Located at 1914 Pacific Ave. Tacoma, WA, this was an idea born out of creativity, Launched almost a year ago as a Space Work Tacoma project, designed to match creative endeavors and artists with a storefront business that has been vacant for a while.

Tinkertopia shares the same sidewalk as the University of Tacoma on Pacific Ave. who decided to take a chance to see if the idea would work. The team consists of Darcy, a teacher with an early childhood and Montessori background and her husband, RR Anderson, a political cartoonist. They decided to put their artistic talents to great use and began to pull their vision together.



What do you do with sustainable raw material that everyone else sees as trash? You find a way to recycle it to works of art. It began with a year of salvaging from design and architect firms. People gave things away. For example, 1940 wood bowling ball pins, by the carload. Even artists contributed unused paints and canvas. All of this would be done without the guarantee that they would meet the committee’s approval.

Then one year later on July 17, 2013, they were granted their own piece of the rock. The Space Works project assisted the couple in planning, organizing, marketing and finances. They gave Darcy and RR the expertise and training that a business major would know but an artist would not. Soon the community; consisting of teachers and families with children, began to rally and support this new establishment.

Tinkertopia offers basic, simple skill workshops not only for children but adults also. You can hold parties for birthdays or grown-ups who want a little free time to release the stress of everyday life and return to the child within. Darcy says, “When you are allowed to play, creativity comes through.” (www.tinkertopia.com)

Did You Say Go West? (Chp. 2)


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Road side stops

Road side stops

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly”-Tony Robbins

    Departing Kansas at 11:00 in the morning is a late start but some things are unavoidable. As I push through mid-morning traffic on 435 Northbound from Kansas I head towards Omaha, NE.

    While rolling through open farmland and cattle ranges, pale, grey skies hang lazily with enough light to remind one that the day is running away from you. The Go Go’s sing, “Our lips are sealed…” as I-29 directs me to Sioux City and Sioux Falls in the late afternoon. The time is 4:22 in the evening.

    I’m leaving familiar areas as I enter I-90 to head west to places that I have not seen in ten years. How has the land changed and what lies ahead for a free spirit like myself? Interstate 90 is the longest interstate highway in the United States covering 3,101.13 miles with the west leg of the road ending in Seattle, WA. I-90 crosses the Continental Divide and serves several major cities like, the mentioned Seattle, Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, Albany and Boston.

   I pass abandoned barns or homes on once prosperous farmland. The land fights to stay alive as I see patches of green push past the dark, destroyed grasses. I wonder about the families that owned these areas and buildings that rot away, doors hanging on their last hinges. As the night descends, this is a signal to rest my body and save the next leg of the journey for the morning. Mitchell, South Dakota is the pit stop for the night.

(Photos by writer and protected. Click on each to enlarge for better viewing.)

Did You Say Go West? (Chp.1)


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“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind”

With the sun in my eyes.

With the sun in my eyes.

There is a time when restlessness determines a new direction in one’s life. For me, it this is a constant. The more I feel boxed in, the further I want to fly. So with the washing away of  winter and smell and sounds of spring, it is time to flee.

     This time the road calls for me to move westward and not necessarily to California. This will be an interesting trip as I follow main highway arteries to familiar places and the surprise of something new. I love the path that is less traveled. I find enjoyment in taking a right instead of a left to a town I’ve never heard of before. Sometimes I’m welcomed and other times, well, lets just say I know when its time to leave. As usual, I have packed my bags in advance and hitched up the wagon with food and supplies to parts unknown as I travel westward. The camera batteries have been charged up and ready for photo sharing.

     So sing along with me, “Life is a highway, I want to ride it all night long…” (Tom Cochrane)

No! Not that button…Pookie!


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“Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement”-Rita Mae Brown, Alma Mater

     It is through a mistake that we learn our greatest lessons. Indeed, I have learned mine. Friends don’t let friends touch their computers. 

Don't do it!

Don’t do it!

     It’s a harsh thing to say but a necessary one. Almost two weeks ago, I allowed my co-worker, who was visiting at my home, to use my laptop. I will admit that I was a bit uneasy about the idea, but I allowed it. Later that day, she mentioned that I had a lot of pop-ups on my screen. I didn’t really get the jest of what she meant when she said she had tried to clean it up. It wasn’t until later that evening when I turned on my computer and attempted to use my websites that the trouble began. 

    First, there was a broom that pretended to sweep the pages. Then a hand popped up and a knife jutted between the fingers. The screen seemed to have a life of its own as other things appeared and then a big red X with a warning flashed. My stomach cringed when the reality of what she had done came to life. It had been hit with a virus.

    “Not me,” I thought. “I’m just a speck in the cosmos. Not a big wig ball player, movie star, a big name television celebrity nor a computer wiz.” Why did the virus have to hit me, the two-hundred thousandth person on the planet? My second thought was to choke my soon to be ex-co-worker! I raised her name to the heavens wishing a plaque of locusts and bees upon her. In the meantime, I had to get my laptop into the computer hospital right away.

    I researched the internet and found a place that boasted rave reviews about their work. I took it into their store on a Friday and was told that the soonest they could touch it would be Monday. That day came and went without a call, update or that they were running behind schedule. On Tuesday I called the store and was told by one of the guys, “Oh, I was going to work on it today.” In my world, you don’t get another chance to mess up. I picked up my baby (computer) and off we went in search of another healer.

    Thanks to my son, he located a place called Green PC, at 3627 S. 54th St., Tacoma, WA. These are the guys that when you were growing up, always played with the electronic gadgets in the garage, or could beat you at video games. Don’t expect a fancy building or prim pressed uniforms when you arrive at this place. What you will find are some really cool cats, (yes, I went there) with some massive brain power.

     They took baby under their wings, said it will be ready by Friday at the latest as I waved goodbye. She was going under the knife and I was not allowed into the ward. When I returned on Saturday, due to time constraints on my part, they walked over, pulled her off the shelve and handed her back to me. As I turned it on to make sure she wasn’t suffering from shock or memory loss, I also received some computer teaching; what to watch for in terms of virus detection, software to use, etc.

     So to the guys at Green PC I want to send this shout out to you. Thank you for your fast, friendly, reliable and knowledgeable staff. You kept your word and baby and I appreciate it. Because of you I can post my stories and work on my next romance novel without weird things coming after me. You will be the first place I run to with all my computer needs. You proved to me that you are the best.


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