Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Leading Ladies Marathon Road Trip Part 1: Of Jolly Green Giants and Dead Presidents

Sorry to be absent so long from the blog, but I was truly having an adventure. If you have never taken a running road trip with fellow runners, it is something that you must put on your bucket list. I have long been a fan of road trips in general. It may have something to do with my mom moving me by car from Pennsylvania to California at a very young age. Whatever the reason, I will use any excuse to work one in, and they never, ever disappoint.

We started off from Lansing last Thursday morning full of anticipation. As I mentioned in the previous post, four of us (Janet, Leslie, Linda, and myself) were going from Lansing, Michigan to Spearfish, South Dakota for the Leading Ladies Marathon. We had opted to go in my Nissan Cube (hereafter referred to as Katie), which had the virtues of being good on gas and equipped with a working air conditioner. Unfortunately it was short on space, so each of us was limited to one Playmakers duffel bag, one sleeping bag, and one pillow (with a custom pillow case made especially for each one of us by Linda). Even so, closing the back door was a process involving much smooshing, and there was no way that I was going to be using my rear view mirror for anything except checking my make-up.

In anticipation of the event, Linda had dyed some very pretty pink stripes into her hair, I had purchased tiaras for the group, and Leslie had gotten us bling befitting leading ladies. I also had purchased some window paint so that we would sure to be noticed if we were spotted by other leading ladies on the way up. After a few pictures we were on the road for day one, Lansing to Albert Lea, MN.

From left to right: Linda, Me, Janet, and Leslie 
The first day was relatively uneventful. We missed our chance to visit Iowa's largest frying pan, due more to slow reflexes on my part than anything else. We pulled in to the Albert Lea KOA, and Janet had her first experience of camping, as we "roughed it" in our little Kamping Kabin.
Janet outside our cozy Kamping Kabin in Albert Lea

Day two dawned and again we were ready to hit the road. Spirits were high as we pulled off for our first gas stop in Blue Earth, MN.  Being a little bored by this time, we were easily amused by the Sinclair gas station with the little green dinosaurs. Apparently these dinosaurs are extinct in Michigan, and my Michigan passengers were excited to get to see one in its native habitat. Little did we know, that little green dinosaurs were not the only thing waiting for us in Blue Earth.

We went inside the store to pay for gas and do the obligatory pit stop. It turned out to have a small antique shop off the side of the gas station. Since I love old junk, Linda and I went over to take a look at what they had. Besides a really cool Miss Beasely doll and a Boston vinyl album, they had a really pretty blue bead necklace, probably from the 1950s, that Linda bought for me. (She is awesome!!). She struck up a conversation with the cashier and soon came back to the car with a huge grin on her face. "Drive to the end of the street," she said. "Don't ask why. Just trust me that this will be good!

I drove a ways down the little road to the end of the street, and we all squealed in delight as we saw him at the same time. Blue Earth, MN is the home of the Jolly Green Giant. Yes, the Green Giant of canned corn and  peas fame. There he stood, in the park, waiting to greet visitors to Blue Earth.

That is when we learned a little known fact about the Green Giant: he is a runner!! We know this because he was still wearing his race shirt from the Relay for Life that he had done the previous weekend. Apparently, though, we had caught him on his way to the showers because he was not wearing his running shorts, just the little leaves that he wears for everyday.

Green Giant sporting his
 Relay for Life race shirt
We climbed the stairs for the photo op that he had planned for. While we waited for the gift shop guy to figure out the camera, we had time to answer that question that is on everyone's mind when they see the Green Giant on  their vegetable can: What does he wear under that green leaf skirt? Well, the answer is nothing!! Thankfully he shares the same anatomical features as the ever-popular Ken doll, so all scandals were avoided.

Here is where it gets better. As we were getting ready to leave, a guy comes up. He introduces himself as Norm Hall, the news director for the local radio station, KBEW. Apparently they do interviews with tourists who are passing through town. He interviewed us for a spot on his radio show. He was generous enough to send us a copy. I put it together with some pictures from days one and two of the trip:

You would think that was enough excitement for the day, but things were just beginning. The billboards every quarter mile on the highway advertising the Corn Palace caught our attention. It was billed as a "must see," so we hopped off the freeway to check it out. I have to tell, you that it was a bit of a letdown as far as I was concerned, but that may just have been in comparison to the Green Giant encounter.

With the Corn Palace thoroughly investigated and photographed, we headed on across the prairie. Soon fields of corn and soybeans, gave way to fields of sunflowers, and then eventually just prairie grass. Leslie, ever the snake-hater, managed to figure out that there are snakes in South Dakota, a prairie rattler, and sure enough, when we stopped at a rest stop, we found that we were risking life and limb. We jumped back in the car and headed across the badlands to our next stop: Mt. Rushmore.

Mt. Rushmore was truly an awesome sight. I had wanted to see Mt. Rushmore since I first heard about it when I was about 10 years old.  I am a big Founding Fathers fan, and Jefferson is my second  favorite Founding Father. (The fact that I had not only a "favorite founding father" but a second favorite tells you a bit about what a dork I was as a child.)  It was absolutely as amazing to see in person as I thought it would be. Trail runner that I am, I spent half the time trying to determine if there were any trails I could find on the side of the mountain to get closer, but I am sure that there are multiple restrictions on just that type of thing...
Okay, so this is a picture of me.
If you want to see Mt. Rushmore up close, buy a postcard.

As day two of our trip concluded, we did a sunset drive down the back road from Mt. Rushmore to Spearfish, through Deadwood, that looked like a really interesting place to stop but which will have to wait for next year's race. It is truly beautiful country and it whetted our appetite for what was to come.

We pulled into the Spearfish KOA satisfied that our running road trip was everything we had hoped it would be to that point.

Check back in a day or so for Leading Ladies Road Trip Part 2 soon to follow!

1 comment:

  1. Ho, ho, ho.......Green Giant! What a blast!!!! I guess I don't know how many marathons I've completed either. This wasn't my 4th, it was the 5th and last......or so I say today!


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