I’ve often thought that the best part of a day at the beach was the idea of a day at the beach. Concept over actuality. Sometimes that happens when we’re traveling to a place that seems far greater than it is in reality. The architectural drawing of the journey and not the actual structure where the bubble of true plumb is always a couple of degrees askew. This happens every so often, where disappointment gives way to expectations. To love the reality of the road, a traveler does well to pack a small, emotional sledge ready for frequent application. In Sioux Falls, SD we visited what else, the Great Falls Park as well as dinosaurs on the prairie. But little did I know that all GPS coordinates, google earth maps, etc. are controlled from high on a hill in the southeastern section of South Dakota. And did you know that this is only the second place in the entire country where the UN flag flies, NYC being the other. Perhaps that is the reason behind hearing constant fighter jets overhead almost shattering the barrier.
Laura and Shannon welcomed us to EROS, the center for Earth Resources Observation and Science. This program was established by the Dept. of the Interior in the late 1960’s to collect, manage, and distribute information and imagery relating to the surface of the Earth. (the forerunner of the GPS system). I am just amazed and the vision and insight of the people behind this operation, far before anyone of us could even imagine it. Even the comic books hadn’t thought of it this early. The security is Level 4 and I was taken aback by the check in personnel wearing “heat” on their thighs. Although the facility is open to tourists, it was closed to the public during the Iraqi War. I almost imagined spy satellites and activities of a nature that only television could stir in our minds. But it’s a secure feeling to know that those floating cosmic observers are keeping us safe in our beds at night.
Now it’s time to head for points West, hoping to make it to Wall Drug before nightfall.