As you know, I didn’t blog from the mini vacation last weekend… then I returned home and kept the schedule of a whirling dervish. This morning is the first chance I’ve had to update you. And I’ve got thirty minutes because I’ve got to get to the gym, walk on the treadmill, come home, shower and change, and then head to work… ick.
My mom, dad, aunt, and I took off Friday night about forty-five minutes after work ended. We drove almost eight hours to Wall, South Dakota. If you don’t know where Wall is, you’re not alone. It’s not someplace you accidently stumble upon. Basically, if you’re in Wall, it was on purpose. Wall, SD… population 818. Saturday morning when we awoke, it was rainy, drizzly, and foggy. FOGGY?! It felt like I was about two miles from the beach instead of being smack dab in the middle of North America. Weird. I would’ve referred to it as a marine layer… except there was no marine to be layering. Anyway, we scrapped the original plans to go to Mount Rushmore and redirected our efforts to Minute Man Missile National Historic Site and Badlands National Park.
Minute Man is a decommissioned missile silo from the Cold War. Pretty interesting, actually. The plan was to tour it. Unfortunately, they had availability for two and we were a party of four. So? Off to Badlands…
Badlands is interesting in the fog and drizzle, actually. The last time I was here was August of 1993. August is not when Badlands puts its best foot forward. Neither is May when its drizzling and foggy. Nope, parts of the park looked like a gigantic mud hole. We stopped at various scenic overlooks and I plodded through to get a handful of pictures, but visibility was limited in most areas and decidedly not gorgeous.
One exception to the gorgeousness deficiency was the Yellow Mounds within Badlands. The minerals within the rock and soil create an exquisite palette of colors… iron makes the red, manganese makes the purple, and the green is the prairie growth that hasn’t died under the harsh summer sun yet. In August the park looks gray and brown. I shot a number of photographs in and around Yellow Mounds due to the abundance of color. This was my favorite and may yet be enlarged for matting and framing with the rest of my vacation travels (I have photos dating back to 1994 that I display in my library–I just bought twenty new 11×14 frames to enable me to keep it up).
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos from Minute Man because the Visitor’s Center is on the smaller side with nothing in particular to photograph… I officially need to head back up there in the next year and tour the complex. When I do, photos will abound!
After slowly making our way through a soggy Badlands National Park, we made our way back to Wall to get some lunch. Now, the reason the city of Wall is significant is that it houses Wall Drug. While Wall may not be a destination, Wall Drug is.
Druggist Ted Hustead purchased Wall Drug Store in 1931. Business was awful. Like I said, no one accidently stumbles into Wall, South Dakota. After a while, his wife, Dorothy, got the idea to offer free ice water and then other items for purchase. They put up signs off of the highway and people started pulling over for the free ice water and then purchasing other items. Now, Wall Drug sees up to 20,000 people a day during the season (late spring, summer, early fall).
I had a hot roast beef sandwich (the bread is laid out and the roast beef and gravy are placed on the bread with mashed potatoes off to the side). It was delicious. Mom and Dad ordered the same while my aunt accidently ordered just the roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy plate. We all had the homemade donuts for dessert. The donuts, my friends, are worth the trip. And you pay a nickel (five cents) for a cup of coffee. It’s done on the honor system. You don’t order coffee, you simply pour yourself a cup and drop a nickel in the jar. Oh, I took a picture of the dining room in order to show the ceiling which was lit with Tiffany glass. However, an employee yelled (well, not “yelled,” but strenuously objected) at me because you’re not supposed to photograph the paintings. Fine. Didn’t want pictures of the paintings. Didn’t like ‘em. (Wall Drug has the largest collection of privately owned western art in the United States.) Wanted the ceiling. However, in deference I will not post the photo! (It’s not the first time this has happened to me (once in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. and once in the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas) and all I can say is that posting a sign larger than four inches by five inches with type that is less than an inch tall will probably garner better results at keeping folks from snapping pictures!)
After wandering through the different areas of Wall Drug for the better part of an hour, my pops was tired so we headed back to the motel (not a hotel) where we were staying. It was nice, though! Mom, Auntie Pat, and I watched Forrest Gump on television while Dad napped. We then went to dinner at the only restaurant we could find and had a very tasty meal before heading back to our motel to hang out for a little while. It was early outs that night after getting in at two o’clock in the morning.
Sunday, we were up at seven and raring to go… with sunshine and clear skies!