Wednesday, May 17, 2017

South Dakota

We started out nice and early this morning, around 5:30, because we all find it more tolerable on long driving days to get some road behind us while everyone is still asleep. Just about the time everyone was waking up, we found ourselves in Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the World's Only Corn Palace. This was not a planned stopped, but it wasn't one we could very well pass up. Essentially, it is an event venue and basketball arena, but the inside and outside of the building are decorated with corn murals, which change regularly. It was definitely something to behold, and we were glad we stumbled upon it accidentally.

The World's Only Corn Palace

Acting Corny

From there, we made our way to the Minuteman Missile Historical Site and the D-9 launch site, where we learned all about the "hidden in plain sight" nuclear missile silos used during the Cold War and scattered throughout the Midwest. It made my stomach clinch to see a missile up close and to think of the destruction it could impart. It also made me sick to think of telling school children that "duck and cover" would save a person from such an attack. I am thankful none of these weapons have been used and would hate to see them released in the future. It was an enlightening but sobering stop.

The Minuteman Missile Historical Site

Even disabled, this bad boy still gave me chills.

After that, the natives were restless, and we needed a good lunch stop. For hundreds of miles (or at least it seemed), we had been seeing signs for the Wall Drug Store, home of free ice water and 5¢ coffee, and decided to stop there for lunch. This was not a mistake. It was a gigantic complex of shops, a pharmacy, a cafe, and kitschy tourist attractions.

Wall Drug Store

5¢ Coffee

Clay was a little unsure about posing
with the cowboy when he saw that the cowboy was smoking. When I assured him that he wouldn't have to smoke but could just sit like the cowboy, he decided it would be ok.

After lunch, we headed toward the Badlands National Park, which turned out to be absolutely amazing! We saw prairie dogs by the hundreds, numerous bison, a coyote, a badger, and a turkey. Plus, the landscape was incredible! We really loved it!

A bison munching right near the road


The Badlands National Park

Coming out of the park, we were near Rapid City, where most of the presidents are honored with bronze statues along Main St. and the street that runs parallel to it. Walking around town, trying to guess the president represented by each statue before reading the plaques was probably the kids' favorite activity of the day. Everybody has a favorite.

Max and Lincoln

Weston with Washington

Ruth and Reagan

You can't spell Taft without F-A-T

Jeff and Jefferson

Our final push of the day led us to Mt. Rushmore. Unfortunately, a wave of fog, which was ushering in a freakin' SNOW storm, rolled in just ahead of us, and the four famous men of the mountain were completely obscured by low-lying clouds. However, we are flexible and tenacious and plan to try again to see them sometime before we head back to Texas.

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