Thursday, August 13, 2009

Driving West Through South Dakota

We got up early Wednesday morning in Forest City. We'd planned for a long day of driving, but it was almost all going to be on the interstate. We'd stayed longer than we thought at Winnebago and we have doctor and dentist appointments next week. We figured we'd drive longer days than we usually do so we can get to Tumwater by Sunday afternoon.

We picked up I-90 in Blue Earth, Minnesota after driving through more farmland in Iowa. Lots and lots of farmland. Ate a breakfast of English Muffins and coffee at McDonald's in Blue Earth and were once again on our way.

It isn't a great distance before you enter South Dakota. The first time we drove through South Dakota was on a family vacation in 1987. We all thought is was a horrid place....dry, desolate, no scenery. Over the years we've totally changed our opinion and do not mind driving through this state. It really has a certain beauty...although barren in places.....when you can look at the blue sky above the high plains. Really nice.

At the town of Chamberlain (exit 263) there is a nice rest area/overlook. We pulled off to stretch our legs and walk Annie. From this overlook, you can get a nice view of the great Missouri River. After taking a photo or two of the river, I wandered over to the sidewalk at the west of the grass area. BEWARE OF POISONOUS SNAKES read a big sign. Hey great.....time to go now!
South Dakota not only has a lot of cattle country, it has farmland as well. Here are some large hay bales by the town of Chamberlain.
Hey, look up there ahead. Those clouds didn't look too inviting. We turned on the weather band in our dash radio to hear the broadcast. At this point we were driving past the town of Belvidere moving closer to Kadoka. The broadcast said that "heavy thunderstorm activity is moving swiftly east from Kadoka with nickle-sized hail". We had no choice but to continue and hope the storm might turn it's path. No. The rain began falling and it was very heavy. In a matter of minutes the temperture dropped about 10 degrees. After another 20 minutes it was down to 65 degrees from 90 degrees before the storm hit. We saw some lightning in the distance but not too close to us. Then that hail began to fall, and it was nickle-sized alright. The sound it made pounding on the RV spooked Annie and she came straight up front to us for protection. The hail only lasted about 5 minutes and then it was gone. The rain let up a bit and the lightning was gone, too. We looked behind us later and the sky was as black as night. Clear skies once again in front of let's drive on to Wall.

We got off the interstate at Exit 110 where you find the small town of Wall. We secured a campsite at the dumpiest little RV park, Arrow Campground. It was only for one night and we were really tired, so it was good enough. It had 50 amp service and it was 90 degrees outdoors so we were happy.
We walked 2 blocks from the little RV park to the center of Wall. Wall is famous for just being a tourist stop (trap) and it goes back to the 1930's. In 1931, pharmacist Ted Hustead and his family moved there to start their own business. He opened "Wall Drug". Business wasn't too great but they hung in there for 5 years. Then one day his wife had an idea. Cars were always driving along the highway by Wall, but they never stopped. Dorothy Wall's idea was to offer travelers free ice water to drink. That did it, and people began pulling into town to get some ice water to drink. One thing led to another, and Ted and Dorothy began serving snacks. They put signs out on the highway like the old Burma Shave signs to attract tourists attention. Soon, they had a thriving business with a cafe, gift shop, and the ice water. Today, Wall Drug is bigger than ever. It is a series of connecting buildings with lots to offer the curious traveler. You can buy cowboy hats, boots, western art, posters, knick knacks, souvenirs and food.

This is the original facade of Wall Drug. It has been placed inside the new building and is offered as a free museum now.
Up above one of the doorways they have placed these animals that had been hunted in the greater area.

Out in what they call the Backyard, Bruce decided to try a sample of the famous "free water".

The town has grown along with Wall Drug. Across the street you can find many other gift shops and some restaurants too. You can also look at and buy some Black Hills Gold jewelry.
After our walk to see Wall, we went back to that dandy little RV park and went inside with some more air conditioning. We planning to get up early again the next day and get into Montana before stopping for the night.
Until next long for now!


squawmama said...

Glad to hear you made it to Wall drug Store... It is wild isn't it??? We were there last year and stayed over in Badlands National Park... Loved it!!!

Have Fun & Stay Safe

Jerry and Suzy said...

We were very disappointed in Wall Drug Store. Last year we were at Wall, then stayed at a funky little park in Kadoka for two nights; had to do our laundry somewhere! Then we went north to I-94 in No. Dakota and on to Medora to visit Teddy Roosevelt National Park. Lots of good stuff to do and see in the Dakotas! But sometimes you just have to hurry by, for such things as medical appointments. We've had to do that too!