We've had our exchange student, Pau, for roughly 3 months now, and due to COVID and his busy high school schedule, haven't done much exploration of the US of A. That changed after we learned that he would begin distance learning this week. After a quick conversation with my wife, we decided a trip to the Badlands of South Dakota and Mount Rushmore was in order as he didn't have any type of learning scheduled until today. So on Sunday, we set off for South Dakota, and between the great weather and luck, we had a pretty good time.

Sunday we left around 8:30 in the morning, which was pretty much on schedule for what we had planned on doing. We drove through Minnesota on I-90 and stopped in Sioux Falls for lunch and some exploration at the falls at Falls Park. Even though it was really windy and cold, felt like 20 in the wind, we enjoyed being out of the car and outdoors.

After our late lunch stop in Sioux Falls, we made it to Mitchell, SD where we grabbed a room for the night. We had planned on stopping at the 'World Famous Corn Palace' Sunday night, but we got there after it had closed so we made plans to stop Monday morning after we left the hotel.

After checking out the Corn Palace, which is really interesting in it's own right as we got to see the artists finishing up the 2020-2021 design on the marque out front. They were cutting the colored corn cobs and screwing them in place. I wasn't sure how it worked just looking at the outside of the building.

After Mitchell, we made it to the Badlands National Park where we drove through the park and were absolutely blown away by its raw beauty. By this point, Pau was somewhat sleepy/bored in the back seat after being subjected to the Corn Palace and 3 hours in the car as a 15-year-old, our saving grace was Wi-Fi so he could watch a movie while we drove.

After prodding him to get out and check out the surroundings it was hard to get him back in the car. He was off exploring the roughly-hewn hills and probably walking and going where he shouldn't but that's what kids do. We saw big-horn sheep, buffalo, and prairie dogs up close along with a variety of birds flying overhead.

After exploring the Badlands for a few hours we left and made our way to Rapid City and then Keystone to see Mount Rushmore. I got to say I've never been to the 'West' river portion of South Dakota before, and it was really beautiful.

Mount Rushmore was awesome as we got to see the monument during both the day and night.  After walking around Mt. Rushmore for about an hour we spent the night in Rapid City.

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We spent the better part of our Tuesday stopping at Wall Drug, going back through the Badlands National Park, and generally trying to get back home before it got to late.

For all the talk about folks in South Dakota not wearing masks, we didn't really see it. Every place we went to eat, stay, or explore/visit people has on masks or made a conscious effort to give you some space.

You can see some of the photos I took along the trip below.