BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK

We finally got a day without rain yesterday! The sun was peeking through hazy skies, so we decided to take a drive to the Badlands. About seven miles south of Wall along highway 240 is Badlands National Park. Did you know that Badlands National Park encompasses 244,000 acres? There is an admission charge…unless you purchased a Senior Citizen National Park Pass like we did a couple of years ago. Highway 240 is called the Badlands Loop which is about a 30 mile stretch of two land highway curving around and up and down the beautiful Badlands.

You can start the Badlands Loop at Wall and head east on 240 like we did. If you do, you will exit the Badlands close to Interstate 90 about 20 miles east of Wall. If you are coming from eastern South Dakota and heading west on Interstate 90, you can start the Badlands Loop by getting off Interstate 90 at Exit 131 and take highway 240 west (you will exit the Badlands about seven miles south of Wall; you can get back on Interstate 90 at Wall). Keep an eye out for the Badlands Loop signs or you might miss the exit.

If you are in this area, you really MUST NOT miss driving through the Badlands. It is one of the most unique places I have ever visited. It is very unusual scenery, but it has its own unique beauty that will leave you mesmerized. I can honestly say that pictures do not and cannot depict its beauty; you MUST see it in person in all its 3D glory. If the sun would have been fully out and the sky a crystal blue, my pictures might have come out better. Oh, well. I think you’ll get the idea how beautiful the Badlands are anyway.

YES!!! These two buffalo were about 150 yards from us when we took the previous picture by the national park sign! TRUST ME! We did not take our eyes off of them for long, just in case they started our direction.

Can you see the big horn sheep at the top of that rock formation?

This picture might help you find those sheep.

Can you find the prairie dogs in the next several pictures? They are kind of hard to see. If you zoom in, you might be able to find them.

Look around the middle of this picture. He is standing up on his hind legs.

This one is kind of hard to see because he blends in with the color of the dirt. He is peeking over the mound from the top right side.

This one has its tail up. These prairie dogs were so fun to watch. They make a funny squeaking like noise. You have to stand very still and not make any noise or you scare them.

Awwwwwe! There’s our OWN little prairie dog! 😉

When we finished driving through the Badlands we were ready to get on Interstate 90 West at Exit 131 and head towards Wall. What we didn’t realize was that the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site was right there at Exit 131. So, we decided to make a quick stop. The building we visited was like a visitors center. There were informational displays, a video telling about the history of the missile silos and the Cold War, and, of course, a small gift shop. We arrived late in the afternoon and they were going to be closing pretty soon, so we didn’t have much time to look around. If you put this on your “Places to Visit” list, you need to arrive earlier in the day. If you call ahead a month or two before your visit, you can even get an appointment for a guided tour of one of the actual missile silos.

We have really had a great time in Wall, SD, even though it’s been so rainy. Now on to our next destination.

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

Wall Drug

It was time to leave Salem, SD, and head west. Before leaving Dakota Sunset RV Park, the owners told Jack to be sure to stop at the rest area in Chamberlain, SD. It was one of the most beautiful rest areas I’ve ever stopped at. The view of the Missouri River was fantastic as high up as we were. Plus there was a gorgeous sculpture of an Indian woman. We were so happy we made that suggested stop!

We arrived in Wall, South Dakota early Sunday afternoon. It was a good thing that we left as early as we did, too. The winds had picked up to around 20 mph (NOT good when driving an RV!) and a strong storm cell was headed our way. Oh, great…more rain. Ugh!

The wind blew pretty hard all night. When we woke up, it was really foggy and it was drizzling. Another rainy, dreary day. Oh, well, I did have some plans for us anyway.

Six years ago I gave my dad a “father-daughter” trip to Mount Rushmore for his birthday. All along Interstate 90 dad and I kept seeing these signs that said “Wall Drug.” We could not figure out what it was, so we decided to make a stop there. It impressed dad and me so much that I just knew I had to take Jack there.

A little history about Wall Drug: A young Ted Hustead and his wife, Dorothy, purchased the drug store in Wall and moved there in December of 1931. They had a four year old son, Billy. This little prairie town only had 326 people and most of them were poor farmers who had been wiped out by the Depression or drought. They lived in the drug store in their “apartment” which was a room they created by hanging a blanket across the back of the store.

Months went by and business still had not improve. Ted was getting discouraged, but his wife told him that they could make this place work. Dorothy’s optimism lifted Ted spirits some, and he told her he wanted to give this store five good years. If it didn’t work by then he was prepared to sell and move on. However, Dorothy told him they would make it work. She also told him that the Mount Rushmore monument would be completed soon, and then there would be an endless stream of people going by. She was sure they would visit the drug store.

By the time the summer of 1936 came around, the business still hadn’t grown much and the end of the five year trial would be up in December. Their son Billy was nine years old, and they now had a one month old daughter, Mary Elizabeth. It was a hot Sunday afternoon and there was no one coming into the drug store. Dorothy told Ted she was going to go home and put Billy and Mary down for a nap and maybe take one herself.

An hour later Dorothy came back. Ted asked her if it was too hot to sleep. She said no, that it was all the noisey jalopies going by on Route 16A that shook the house and kept her awake. Hearing those cars go by caused Dorothy to have an idea about how to get all those travelers to come to the store.

Dorothy asked Ted what all those travelers would really want after driving across the hot prairie. She thought they would be hot, tired, and thirsty for water. Ice cold water! She said they have plenty of ice and water and that they should put signs up along the highway. She told him she had already made up a few lines to put on the signs: “Get a soda…Get root beer…Turn next corner…Just as near…To Highway 16 & 14…Free Ice Water…Wall Drug.”

The next few days Dorothy and a high school boy put together some signs. Each sign was a 12 by 36 inch board. Each little phrase of Dorothy’s poem would go on one board. They would space the boards out so that people could read them as they drove.

The next weekend both of them went out to the highway to put up the signs. Dorothy felt silly doing that, but by the time she got back to the store, people had already begun showing up for their ice water.

They were busy ALL afternoon that day. People told them that this was a great idea. They filled glasses and even filled up their travel jugs. A salesman told them that this free ice water was a great idea, and then he asked Ted, “How about selling me an ice cream cone?” The next summer they had to hire eight girls to help them. And, as they say, “The rest is history!”

The Husteads Today: Dorothy, the lady with the FREE ICE WATER IDEA, passed away in November, 1995. Her husband, Ted passed away in January 1999, and their son Bill died the following October after a two year battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Bill’s wife, Marjorie, is still active in the operation of the drug store today and is carrying on the legacy along with their son, Rick, who is Chairman, his wife Pat, and their daughter Sarah Hustead.

This place has grown over the years. There is now a Wall Drug Mall and a just opened area called The New Back Yard! There are SO many sections of stores and displays such as Buckboard Clothing Store, Boots and Western Clothing Store, Jane’s Jewelry Emporium, Jack-A-Lope Souvenir Department, Western Sculpture Dining Room, Western Art Gallery Dining Room, Western Art Gallery Cafe, over 1500 Historical Photos, and sooooo much more!

I couldn’t even begin to take pictures of each room. This place is unbelievable! Here are a few photos.

There were SO many sculptures all around Wall Drug. This one is just a mere $22,0000!

Of course, we had to have some ice cream before we left Wall Drug.

If you are headed to Mount Rushmore or anywhere near Wall, South Dakota, you absolutely MUST stop by Wall Drug!

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

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