Day One – Lincoln IL to Mitchell SD
Miles: 657.2
Elapsed Time: 14:58

Starting from Lincoln for the second straight year held some comfort for us as we started first thing at the Cracker Barrel situated right next door. Our route was the same until we reached Iowa City where we broke from I-80 heading north towards Waterloo. I had planned as little interstate as possible, but we still had to get a little deeper before jumping off for good. At Waterloo we did just that but still had to run on limited access road until we reached Shell Rock where we stopped for gas. After gassing up we were good to go for a while anyway on IA3. We stopped in Hampton to take a look at the Franklin County Courthouse and the Soldier’s Memorial Hall. In all the courthouses we saw on the trip I might have to rate this one as the best, or at least in the top three. It was only about 60 miles before we had to get back on the interstate for a short period to run up to Clear Lake. We had this in our sights as we wanted to visit the location of Buddy Holly’s last days on Earth and where the music died on the specific day. Not that we like that song or even Buddy Holly all that much (he’s ok) but we thought it might be a nice little slice of history as we tore across the plains. We had the route set to first visit the crash site and then the Surf Ballroom where he played along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper that fateful night. The road was closed blocking easy access to the crash site and we quickly threw in the towel on that and head to the Surf Ballroom. My expectations at this point were not very high, but we parked out front and went in and could not have been more pleased. It’s a really nice well kept venue that has had lots of top talent including some very recent. The memorabilia was very interesting and we found ourselves there taking pictures and having a nice time. We rode a half a block down and had lunch at Sips right next door. After lunch we headed west on US18 and didn’t stop until we reached Emmetsburg in Palo Alto County to view another county courthouse. This one was not that great but there was a beautifully maintained Carnegie Library next door. Back on US18 our next stop was Spencer IA and the Clay County Courthouse. It had only been a short 25 miles so we didn’t stay long but it was one of the nicer buildings. We stayed on US18 for a time before snaking our way up to I-90 in a remote corner of MN. Before jumping back on we did stop in Rock Rapids for our final county courthouse of the day in Lyon County. It is an American Beaux Arts Architecture and the only I have ever seen of its kind; pretty impressive. We needed to get going to Mitchell if we were going to be able to see the Corn Palace in the daylight. We got there, checked in and were on our way. The Corn Palace was another throw-in for a visit but one that was fairly interesting. There was some type of event going on there but you could tell that it was a nice venue for HS or College sporting events and a very well maintained facility. We ate next door at the Sporting Page and felt obligated to order the corn dogs; maybe there was something in the air. It was dark by the time we left and we went back and called it a night.