Here's what our route so far looks like:
My last update ended just before we'd checked into a motel in Kansas City, Missouri for the night. The next morning we set out bright and early and continued North before we reached South Dakota and started heading West on Interstate 90. At a gas station somewhere along the way I spotted this little guy:
When we finally got to South Dakota, we started seeing all sorts of signs for every tourist trap you could ever imagine. Having a bit of time to spare, we took a detour in Mitchell, South Dakota to see the world's largest corn palace. I thought a palace built out of corn sounded cool (albeit unsanitary), but it turns out it was no such thing. Instead, it was a normal building with corn glued to the outside:
They glue new corn to it every year and change the theme based on the decisions of the Corn Palace Festival Committee. This year's theme was "America's destinations" which included all of the other nifty big stuff you can see across the country like this one:
Just so as you know: not all of the buildings in Mitchell, South Dakota have corn glued to them. While we were trying to escape we spotted this nifty plurple house:
Back on the interstate, we began seeing more random signage advertising every manner of everything to be seen in the state from reptile gardens to caves to mountains to a particular drug store. Then, at a random off-ramp in the middle of the state, Ana snapped this picture:
I have no explanation for this life-sized steel T-rex skeleton being walked by a life-sized human skeleton.
There was normal scenery to be had out there too:
After a fairly long day of driving, we decided to end up in Wall, South Dakota:
It would be just another quiet town in middle America, but Wall is the home of Wall Drug. This is one of the most conspicuous examples of how it pays to advertise. Their story began when they opened their doors in the depths of the Great Depression and not surprisingly failed to make a lot of money. Shortly after that, the owner's wife decided it'd be a good idea to put a sign out on the highway promising free icewater to customers and business came flooding in. Since then, they've put up more and more billboards all along I-90 and elsewhere. By now, signs advertising Wall Drug have been sighted in England, Japan, India, and even in space. Most are simple billboards, but some are much more elaborate:
All of that advertisement has allowed Wall Drug to expand until it includes a couple of restaurants, every kind of gift shop you could imagine, restaurants, and so on. Before anyone asks, yes they still offer free icewater. More interesting than that, they sell all sorts of randomness. I wasn't able to convince Ana she needed to buy this hat in their westernwear store:
And she wouldn't let me bring home this lovingly taxidermied wolfman:
We almost got a jackalope, but finally thought the better of it:
After ambling around some of their stores until closing time, we headed back to the smallest motel room in the entire great state of South Dakota:
That was a queen-sized bed with just enough room to walk around it and a tiny bathroom with a shower just barely big enough for one person to stand in. So the luggage spent the night in/on the car.
The next morning we had breakfast and said a long goodbye to Wall Drug:
Said long goodbye included one more tour of all their random displays:
Then it was time to set out for Mount Rushmore and points West:
(Doesn't it look like Roosevelt's about to make a move on Lincoln from this angle?)
More on that in the next post...