Saturday, August 5, 2017

Day 4 - South Dakota Part 2

When we got on the road for day 4, we quickly encountered the Missouri River. Personally, I found the Missouri to be a little more awe inspiring than the Mississippi. It's a nice, clear blue and not muddy, but that's not why. I can't put my finger on it, and it could be nothing more than the mood I was in when we crossed the Missouri against having crossed the Mississippi countless times at different places.

On our way to Wall, where we planned to have lunch, we encountered this boy walking his dinosaur along the side of the highway.

We also saw a sign that caused me to persuade Bruce to add a third stop in South Dakota before we got to Wall. PRAIRIE DOG FEEDING!! This was further off the interstate than I was anticipating. It was actually almost inside Badlands National Park. I thought I was going to have to get my park pass out! It is capitalism at its finest. These folks have this little patch of land that is pretty much overrun with these little rodents that are a huge nuisance to farmers who want to raise crops or livestock. What did they do? Put up a gift shop and sell unsalted peanuts so tourists can stop by and feed the rodents! Call me a sucker, because I got sucked right in! Boy am I glad I did!

We started in the gift shop to get the peanuts, and of course, we had to get souvenirs. After ringing up $38 and change worth of merchandise, the girl behind the counter ran our card. You could see her in that moment of panic when she realized she had rung it wrong. “No, no, no, no!” But it was too late. She had rung it up to $388 and change. I suggested just voiding the sale and reversing the charge, and she said it was too late. So, understanding that either her machine didn't have the capability or she didn't know how to do it, we accepted $350 in change! Easiest trip to the cash machine yet!

And now, to the prairie dogs! This was awesome! They have signs to not chase or touch the prairie dogs, put your hands down the holes, and a variety of other things. You don't really have to worry about it, though. The prairie dogs won't come close enough to be touched and they chase each other around! A couple of them came within a couple of feet of me before they turned to go back into their hole, but they know they don't have to come up to you to get the nuts. They looked at me as if to say, “Can't you read? Drop the nuts on the ground and let us come to them!” So, I finally started behaving, and we had lots of prairie dogs letting us watch them eat. While they were eating, we could often get within a foot of them, but not much closer than that, and not close enough to touch. Aren't they just adorable, though??!!

After feeding the prairie dogs, we got back on the road heading to Wall. The town of Wall has one of the world's most famous drug stores, Wall Drug. It was started in 1931 by Ted and Dorothy Hulstead, and by 1936, they were just about to throw the towel in when Dorothy had the idea to offer free water to try to draw customers in off the main road nearby. You still get free ice water and 5 cent coffee at Wall Drug, but you get a whole lot more, too! It has grown from a small one-room store to an entire city block with a variety of little shops and stores. The town itself has grown, too. From a winter/off-season population of around 300 to just under 900! Wall Drug no longer consists of just the drug store. The Hulsteads own all of the shops on the right-hand side of the picture. I'm not sure about the left. They could own them, too, but I haven't been able to confirm that.

As you go inside, it's a small mall with a unique, rustic interior and carved guests sitting on the benches so you never have to sit alone. I don't think she was very happy about me checking out her cards, though!

Then, there is the famous Wall Drug backyard! You can drive a double-tree team from a Conestoga wagon …

or take a ride on a jackalope!

We didn't have time to do the shooting gallery or the mining experience, but we'll hit those next time. (Somebody had to feed prairie dogs, if you recall!) We did have lunch, though. It's a lovely and large dining room. Bruce had a charburger, and I had a buffalo burger. Believe it or not, though I had wanted to, I had never tasted buffalo meat before. It's actually quite good!

We stopped to get gas in Underwood. At the side of the parking lot, we encountered the World's Smallest Biker Bar!

It's not far from Sturgis. If you miss the signs, just check the hills. They'll tell you when you've arrived in Sturgis!

Soon after entering Wyoming, there was a random airplane on a pole by the side of the road. It's apparently a weather vane and part of the visitor's center, but I'm not really sure where the visitor's center is!

After a little rain shower, we finally tucked in for he night in Buffalo, Wyoming.  The desk clerks warned us that the internet was awful.  It was the best internet we'd had so far the whole trip!  We clocked about 500 miles on day 4.  I'm not really sure how we managed that many!

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