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Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Day seven: Corn, cheese, and conservatives

Mitchell, S.D., to Minneapolis: 321 miles, 7 hours

Note: The road map linked above isn’t entirely accurate, since we followed a state road through Minnesota instead of taking the interstate.

“So, you live in San Jose?” Still in an I-90 stupor, I nodded at the motel clerk. “What are you doing in South Dakota?” she demanded.

“Well, we, ahh… ” I began.

Please tell me you’re on a cross-country drive.”

“Oh, no,” I replied, perking up a little. “We drove out here just to see the Corn Palace.”

“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who say that. And they’re serious.

We’re really good at tourism in South Dakota,” she continued. “We get you to come look at faces on a mountain, a drug store, and a building covered in corn.”

Such is the reality of South Dakota. If we hadn’t stopped at that damn Wall Drug, we might have escaped the state unscathed. Instead, we made it no further than Mitchell, and so ended up visting the aforementioned palace in the morning.

Markedly less odious than Wall Drug, the Corn Palace is as wholesome and Middle American as … um … corn, but not half as appetizing. Essentially an awkward cross between a theater and a basketball arena (home of the Kernels!), the Palace spends its off days as a repository for touristy crap. And during the few non-winter months, the building is elaborately decorated with corn mosaics inside and out. Those, I must admit, are the most impressive artwork I’ve ever seen in the corn medium.

Corn Palace artwork detail

I found this freaky-ass bug outside the Palace to be as compelling as anything inside. What in God’s name is it?

Freaky-ass corn bug

Just down the street, there’s proof that Jesus is a very bad mime.

Jesus is a bad mime