Monthly Archives: September 2013

American Road Trip West, Part 3

I feel a little pathetic writing this post, but here goes—it’s about Wall Drug. Is anything more clichéd than Wall Drug?

Wall Drug—Where coffee's still 5¢.

Wall Drug—Where coffee’s still 5¢.

The maze that's Wall Drug

The maze that’s Wall Drug

No road trip West can fail to include a stop at Wall Drug, Wall, South Dakota. We stopped twice on this trip—out and back.

Why? Because the coffee is 5¢ and the ice water is free, as the billboards tell you. And it’s fun!

Talk about making something out of nothing. Since 1931, when Ted and Dorothy Hustead bought the only drug store in Wall, Wall Drug has grown to include a little bit of everything. Read Ted’s account of how it all started: “Our History began with Wall and Water!”

                                                        Wall Drug is iconic. It’s like being in an international airport. Tourists from all over the world stop here. Two busloads were reloading as we arrived.

The signs for Wall Drug are part of the fun. For miles in either direction billboards of all sizes alert the traveler to the reasons to stop. The signs are toned down and fewer in number than they used to be when I was a kid, but there are still plenty of signs.

Wall Drug isn’t just a tourist trap to get you to spend money on all manner of stuff you don’t need, it’s a Western fine art gallery.  Really good art, and a lot of it. You can sit and enjoy your pie à la mode surrounded by paintings.

Western fine art at Wall Drug

Western fine art at Wall Drug

Wall Drug is an oasis in the middle of nowhere on your travels West. The Badlands to the south of the interstate are worth the loop road through—otherwise, next stop is the Black Hills.

So stop at Wall Drug. Why not? It’s fun.

Mount Rushmore—sort of

Mount Rushmore 😉

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American Road Trip West, Part 2

South Dakota – I90

“The long and winding road,” the Beatles sing—not this one. I90 through southern Minnesota and South Dakota barely makes a curve until the Black Hills on the western side of South Dakota.

The road is really boring, and much of it is either in bad shape or under construction. We laughed though, the speed limit in construction zones in the West is 65 mph, 55 if it’s really torn up. In the West the cowboy spirit still prevails—they do things their way, and we like that about the West.

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Sunflowers in South Dakota – lots of them!

These plain states are also beautiful. As soon as you leave the Mississippi River valley the land flattens out to crop and grazing land. Southern Minnesota and South Dakota are part of the Bread Basket of the US, they keep us fed. I’m from Minnesota, but this southern hemisphere of the state is foreign country to me. I know the Minnesota of woods and lakes.

The colors on the plains are stunning. I’d like to weave a plaid of the colors. If you focus on how boring the road is, you miss the beauty of the fields of sunflowers and sorghum, the black angus cattle, the variegated greens and tans of the grasses, the cerulean blue of the sky, and the vast majesty of the clouds. The color of the dirt ranges from tan to rust red, sometimes sedimentary stripes of many colors. Beautiful!

Badlands of South Dakota

Badlands of South Dakota

Have you been out West?

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American Road Trip West, Part 1

Road Trip 1

South Dakota

“See the USA in your Chevrolet.” This advertising jingle, sung by Dinah Shore in the 1950s, called Americans to the road. We answered and haven’t slowed down since, no matter what the price of gas.

So Dave and I jumped in our Ford truck and away we went. From southern Wisconsin turn west on I90 and set the cruise. Last stop, Nevada City, Montana.

As Road Trips go, ours was relatively moderate—2,800 miles. We met a couple driving from western New York to Oregon. That’s a road trip!

We hadn’t done a Road Trip for a number of years, and we were reminded, again, of the varied beauty of our country. And of the people who settled the land.

We often thought of the pioneers as we followed their footsteps West. I imagined the pioneers standing on the eastern bank of the Missouri River saying, “Now what!?”

Road Trip 2

The Missouri River at Chamberlain, South Dakota

On we went to the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, Virginia City and Nevada City in Montana, to a ranch in the mountains in Montana, and then over the Beartooth Highway.

Ride along on this travelogue.

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