Wall Drug is famous for staying open through the depression by advertising for and giving free ice water to tired, thirsty travelers, which is something they still do today. However, I should have extrapolated the SofB connection so I wouldn't have been so surprised and I gotta say, disappointed in what we found. Think Gatlinburg of the Badlands, only indoors, kind of a 'Wall Mall'. Talk about sensory overload! My ADDness goes up a few million levels in places like this and I couldn't wait to escape. Breakfast was okay - eggs, bacon, and hash browns (I use that term loosely - think those 'potato bricks' that you get at McDonald's) and nasty iced tea from the soda machine. I think it must cost maybe 50 cents to make a gallon of for real brewed tea, max. It is beyond me why restaurants (most notably in the west and mountain states) don't brew their tea and instead subject us to this nasty stuff. There's a reason we carry tea bags, water, and a gallon container with us! We've got our own sweet 'n' low (of course, Wall had only Splenda) and lemon juice and as always, a cooler full of ice (and our chilly ones). Like the good Girl Scouts we were, we are prepared! We did stay at Wall long enough to climb up on the 6 foot tall Jackelope to pose for pictures. Peppy was so jealous, cause we had left him in the car again. I'm sad to report that Peppy has suffered a fairly severe cracked tail and he's not been able to get out as much this trip. Get a taste of the Wall yourselves by visiting www.walldrug.com
From Wall (the name of the town) it was a short ride to Badlands National Park. Once there, it was a long ride through the park! I think the loop is about 25 or 30 miles through "America's Most Mysterious National Park." The mystery to me is what there is to do in this park besides drive through it. Unlike our other NP visits, we didn't see many (if any) trailheads, and other than the visitor center and a few rest areas (wouldn't place any bets that they flushed) at overlook sites, there was not much there.
As we were leaving the National Park, we passed several deserted buildings reminiscent of Route 66. One that we passed was not completely deserted - it had been a prairie dog ranch, and the dogs were still there. They were not barking (more like chirping, really) as loudly as some we had seen in the Badlands, but they were still fun to watch. Also, there was another version of the "World's Largest Prairie Dog" we had seen at Prairie Dog Town (Oakley, Kansas) on last year's trip. This one was painted differently and cuter.
Once in Chamberlain, it was supper time, so we were trying to find Al's Oasis, a restaurant we had read about somewhere. To do so, we had to go over a very narrow, very old steel truss bridge. We were thinking the interstate might be a good option for the return. Al's turned out to be the "biggest stop for the next 200 miles" - until Wall Drugs - and while it wasn't as overwhelming as Wall, it was not exactly what we were expecting. We'd both been craving a good steak ever since we'd been in what's supposed to be the good steak section of the country, so we ordered filets. Most everyone else there was having the salad bar, which came complete with turkey vegetable soup and a pizza casserole. We're still craving that good steak.
You may remember that Al's was where we had planned to eat lunch, and since it was getting late and we had a date at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, we hopped into the fast lane of I-90. We already knew we had missed visiting hours at the Enchanted Doll Museum (just across the street from the Corn Palace) and that the palace itself would be closed, but it was a must-see on our list. I had been here before (!) but Kim had not. For those of you with no idea what I could possibly be talking about, check out www.cornpalace.com for sort of an idea. It's one of those things you really have to see. It's a big building with minarets and the outside consists of murals made out of corn (the whole ear, not a bunch of kernels) and other plant materials. The theme changes yearly - this year it is Rodeo 2007. Graduation (high school) will be there on Sunday!
The sun was setting, so we followed our rule and took the interstate into Sioux Falls. This was one of the few places I had not made hotel reservations for, and imagine our surprise when we learned that the Hampton, Homewood Suites, and Holiday Inn Express were all booked (just with business travelers, no special events!) and we felt lucky to get a room at the Fairfield. After we finally found it (it says it's at the mall, and it really is - you drive through the mall parking lot to get there) we figured it had rooms because no one could find it. Whatever the reason, we were thankful and we pulled in the lot about 10 PM. We quaffed our nightly brews and had it not been for Bigfoot, who was in the room above us, we would have fallen asleep immediately. As it was, we were comatose by 11:30 and slept until Bigfoot woke up. Who needs alarm clocks?
Jan (the ADD bird chaser)