Day 34: Wall Drug and Badlands National Park.
Today was another day full of sight-seeing and driving. No relaxation for us. And how could we pretend that there was nothing to see today when we were reminded about our first destination… over and over and OVER again. Yup, good ol’ Wall Drug.
Back in 1931, Ted and Dorothy Hustead invested all they had in a drug store, basically in the middle of nowhere. Times were tough for them, and for the rest of the country, too. But smarty pants Dorothy had a brilliant idea. She was going to advertise that they had free ice cold water on billboards up and down the highway. And guess what? It worked. All of the road trippers on their way to the newly opened Mount Rushmore started stopping by for free ice water and directions and eventually ice cream, too.
With over 500 miles of billboards on the I-90 that currently costs an estimated $400,000 every year, this small drug store turned into a crazy huge drug store mall in no time at all. Wallcome to Wall Drug!
We made it through the entire place without the kids breaking anything valuable or themselves so a reward was in order. Mila has been obsessed with salt water taffy ever since Tiffany gave her some back in Denver. Thanks a lot, Tiffany!
Our next stop was Badlands National Park. We are almost breaking even with the National Park Pass that we bought back in Bryce Canyon for $80. This is our sixth national park visit and Badlands would have cost us $15.
It’s quite the site to see when you drive into the Badlands. To get there, you drive through lots of nice flat prairies and then… BAM! The Badlands show up and it sort of makes you cuss from the confusion of it all. There are over 200,000 acres of wonderful eroded land that displayed wind-blown volcantic ash that settled here many moons ago.
This is part of the blog post where Dan would have spewed some mumbo jumbo about intercontinental river convergence and how it relates to what we’ve seen in Utah. But that is not how I roll. Today we will oooh and ahhh over another bird I added to my life list. The GOLDEN EAGLE!! Oh man, it was awesome! I wasn’t expecting to see any animals really since we were driving through the park in the middle of the day. But there it was. Just sitting there. Waiting for his or her picture to be taken. It reminded of this day back on our 2010 trip when I spotted my first bald eagle.
The girls were also excited to get their Junior Ranger badges for this park. Ava got a break from her homeschooling workbooks today by learning about the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret at Badlands, the most endangered land mammal in North America. And Mila was super into it this time. She’s got this thing down.
I keep meaning to download the Roadside America app on my phone because I have a feeling we might be missing some quirky roadside attractions but today I didn’t need it. We somehow ended up visiting the largest prairie dog in the world! Woohoo!!
The statue stands in front of the Badlands Ranch Store where we bought two bags of unsalted peanuts for the colony of prairie dogs that live there.
As soon as the girls opened the bags of peanuts, the prairie dogs came rushing over. It was quite the sight to see. The girls had fun and were not scared of these little guys or their obnoxious yelling. But that is probably because they couldn’t read the sign a few miles back that said “Don’t touch prairie dogs. They have the plague!”.
South Dakota, and Wyoming, has not been great for Dan’s workload. I don’t think Sprint remembers that these states even exist. But he just ordered a new set-up to help with issues like this in the future. And he was so excited about it, that he swore it was in the Fed-Ex truck that passed us. What a dork.
Tags: South Dakota
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