We started our day back in Wessington Springs with breakfast at the diner next to the post office with my aunts’ cousins. We then hit the road for an hour-long drive to Chamberlain/Oacoma on the Missouri River. Chamberlain is the town on the east side of the river, Oacoma is on the west.
After checking in at the hotel in Oacoma we would be staying at that night, we drove back across the river to a rest stop we had been told about that has some exhibits about Lewis & Clark, including a replica of one of the boats they used on their expedition. Several of us got some pretty nasty mosquito bites – they must like that hill!
We then stopped for lunch at McDonald’s in Chamberlain before heading to St. Joseph’s Indian School, a school that was developed for the Lakota (Sioux) children and families in need. While they school is pretty traditional, it really strives to help the children attending to keep their Lakota culture while learning the curriculum and important life skills. There is also a museum and cultural center on the campus, Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, that provides information about the Lakota’s history and culture from the days they were free to roam the plains and hunt buffalo to the present. It was really informative and I learned a lot about the Lakota.
We had a short time to rest once we got back to the hotel before we drove out to the Randall’s farm outside of the main town of Chamberlain. The Randall family is my mom’s mom’s sister’s kids and their families. Get that? let me try a different way, they’re my mom’s cousins on her mom’s side. We had a fun picnic on their cow farm (not dairy, just beef) and had an amazing dinner prepared for us with several South Dakotan dishes, including pheasant, wild turkey, fresh hamburgers, chicken, home-made sausages…that that was just the meats! We were so full by the end of the night and it was cool to spend some time with relatives I’d never met before and to learn about farming. John was fascinated by the fact that they had never taken a vacation before (it’s kinda hard to find someone to “pet sit” for 1,000 cows)! And though I’m told you get used to the smell, I don’t think it’s a life I could handle and I really admire the work they do and the dedication they have to it!
With full bellies, it was back to the hotel for a good night’s rest before our long journey to Hill City in the Black Hills.