Experience counts, especially in a fast changing world
South Dakota really does exist and it is vast. It also is the state with the first major destination points of my road trip. First, there are the Badlands, then Mount Rushmore, the Black Hill, and Custer State Park. First, I stopped by Sioux Falls, visited the Corn Palace and headed to Wall Drugs. Wall Drugs is not really a drug store anymore. It was made famous in the olden days when they would offer free ice water to people passing through.
The corn fields continued throughout the state. The first thing that struck me was that the speed limit is 80 mph. The first major city was Sioux Falls. I decided to stop and take a look around. Here is a wonderful large city park built around the Falls. I took a long walk around and had lunch viewing the park. Interestingly there was a couple of ladies fishing along the banks. I saw one of them pull out a large trout. It looked like this was most likely going to be her dinner for the night.
In Sioux Falls, I picked up Interstate 90 heading west, on which I put close to 400 miles on day four. I made great time and picked up a day on the itinerary. It is when I started heading west on I 90 that I begin to notice the haze from the fires several states to the west. The plains and prairies were great, even though, the views were clouded by the smoke. After a little over an hour, I came to Mitchell where they were setting up for the Corn Palace Festival. This town and all of South Dakota celebrates corn. South Dakota harvests about five million acres of corn and four million acres of soybeans annually.
Once I crossed the grand Missouri River, the geography changed from farmland to more grassland and prairies. The landscape is just vast and I could see for miles and miles, albeit through a little haze.
Wall, SD was the destination for the fourth night as it was just a few miles from the entrance to the Badlands and also the home of Wall Drugs. I am told that anyone who has traveled through SD stops at Wall Drugs. It is really just a spot for tourists and probably supports fifty percent of the Wall, SD residents.
As I arrived before sunset, I took a quick ride into the Badlands National Park. I was not disappointed.
The 25-mile loop road runs through the park with many vistas and overlooks. The views are magnificent and like those of the Grand Canyon, are hard to capture in photographs. The difficulty is to show the scale in the photos.
The fifth day, I spent driving through the park, doing a bit of hiking, sipping whiskey with a store clerk in Interior, SD (you can’t make this stuff up), experiencing a prairie thunderstorm,watching the sunset over the canyons/prairie and viewing the full moon as it rose above the mountains.
I did just a short hike, and the views on the hike were amazing, maybe even stunning. As I had a little bit of time to kill, I took a drive out of the park to Interior, SD. I needed to stock up on the ice and grab a few beers. With a population of only 67 people, it is just a crossroads, not even a stop light. However, they had at least three saloons. So I stopped at this little convenience store/post office ( yes there were combined). I picked up a couple of beers and a bag of ice. While I was paying for the beers, I noticed that they were selling liquor right there at the counter. I asked about it and the clerk explained that they could sell whiskey and there was a distillery just forty minutes away. She asked if I would like to try a sample. I said sure. Jokingly, I asked if she (her name was Clover) would like a sample as well. Surprisingly, she said yes and then we proceeded to down a couple of samples of Dakota’s Reserve together. Of course, I had to buy a small 200ml bottle.
After my sipping session with Clover, I headed back into the park. It was eighty-eight degrees by then. I stopped in at the Cedar Pass Cafe to cool off and have a piece of apple pie. As I was resting, I saw a big storm coming. As I looked over the prairie, I could see, hear and feel the storm coming.
After the stormed cleared, the temperature dropped into the sixties. I hung around for a while hoping to catch the sunset. I was able to capture the above picture of the sun going down over the canyon. It was dark and chilly by the time I got back to the campsite. It was getting late, so I decided to try and experiment sleeping in the CRV without putting up the Sportz Cove. The experiment was successful and I had a good evening to end the day.