Road Trip Across America – part the (what day is it again?) seventh

Wall, SD to Mitchell, SD

Miles driven: ~250

There is a lot of country between California and Maine, and I think most of it is in South Dakota. The Highway Sign Gods were also nice enough to tell me when I was switching into the Central time zone. It was like being welcomed to a new state, but I was still in South Dakota. This is the state that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. Some people started driving it, not knowing what it was, and I’ll continue driving it forever just because… I’ve also learned that when driving through the prairie, your windshield wipers and fluid will do nothing to get rid of the bugs, although they will clean in between them quite nicely.

I started today in the Badlands. Actually, I started at Wall Drugs for breakfast. It was ok, but I got to have some of their 5 cent coffee and filled my gallon water bottle with their free ice water. Wall ice water tastes good, but it gets a little weird once it warms up. Then I visited the 80 foot Wall Drug Dinosaur.

The Wall Drug Dinosaur of your youth.


I also got a picture of one of the signs.

Wall Drugs - Signs for miles and miles.

Then I went to the Badlands. Again, South Dakota surprised me with its amazing beauty. The Badlands were unlike anything I had seen before and yet were kind of a cross between the Painted Desert and the Black Hills.

The Badlands were really quite lovely.

I did a few of the short hikes, but I was sweltering, so no long ones. It was “only” in the high eighties, but it was humid. I missed the dry heat of the Grand Canyon. But not too much. I did stop at most of the scenic viewpoints and walk around a bit.

Another Badlands Vista.

There were so many colors in some of the formations. The Badlands are really pretty, but I have to wonder why anyone thought it was a good idea to live there. It is really not surprising that most of the homesteads didn’t work out.

Colorful Mounds in the Badlands.

Continuing on I-90, my next stop was Mitchell. I was getting grumpy, though, so I decided to stop at Al’s Oasis – the only thing that has come close to rivaling Wall Drugs in terms of I-90 signage. (Don’t worry, it’s still a distant second).

Al's Oasis - a practical man's Wall Drugs

Al’s has been around longer (1919 vs. 1931), and they both serve 5 cent coffee, but Al went the practical route – a grocery store rather than a giant jackelope statue. As such, it was an okay place to get lunch – my buffalo burger was pretty good – but I didn’t stay past that. Having gotten over my grumpies (advantage of traveling alone – no one cares if I am grumpy), I stopped briefly to admire the Missouri River where Louis and Clark did something, although the plaque didn’t say what.

The Missouri River - Something historic happened here at some time in the past.

And then, finally, I was on my way to Mitchell. Mitchell, SD is a small town (~14,000 people) on I-90 with one of the greatest tourist attractions I’ve heard of yet – the Corn Palace. Every year since 1892, the Corn Palace in downtown Mitchell gets a face lift, centered around a theme, and the walls (inside and out) are bedecked with corn.

The Corn Palace.

This year’s theme is “American Pride”. I’m still not sure how “Freedom Riders” ranks a larger and more prominent panel than baseball (not pictured because the Freedom Riders are too important). Each panel is a mosaic of corn cobs cut in half and attached to the side of the building. It’s a really large building with an auditorium/gymnasium inside (which also acts as the gift shop location) and a “corn-cession” stand. Haha. Get it? Get it? Corn? And in case you were wondering, the not-so-subliminal messaging worked. I’m eating corn chips as we speak.

So much Corn! Now I want cornbread...

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~ by Genevieve on July 7, 2011.

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