Mt. Rushmore, Wall Drugs, Badlands National Park, Minute Man Missle Site, Dignity Status, Fargo Woodchipper, and driving, driving, driving!
A. Mount Rushmore National Monument
We started the day early, and set out from Wrinkled Rock Trailhead. It was only a few miles to Mt. Rushmore National Monument. It opens at 5:00 am and closes at 11:00pm, I think to allow the climbers plenty of time. Not being a climber, I don’t know what they are allowed to climb, but there certainly is enough mountain to keep most climbers plenty busy! The entrance was under construction, but it’s clear that they are prepared for massive amounts of people. They get several MILLION every year – mostly in the summer. Luckily for us, the “season” hasn’t started yet, so it was relatively quiet.
The mountain is … impressive. The information in the Lincoln Borglum Center is very informative; the film about the design and execution of the monument is well presented. It gives a good overview of WHY these 4 men were chosen – it makes sense.
B. Wall Drugs
A friend told me, “You have to go to Wall Drugs!” Even if she hadn’t said so, by the time we got there we had seen at least a hundred roadside signs for it, all very humorous. The town of Wall was being bypassed by the road and theowners of Wall Drugs were looking to attract business. The wife had a bright idea – offer free ice water to the travelers. Soon it became a destination … now over a million people stop by every year and Wall Drugs has grown from a small drug store to a huge (at least a full city block) attraction with numerous stores and a restaurant that can serve 530 people at a time.
The drug store portion of the business still exists … we bought some band-aids!
C. Badlands National Park
The drive through Badlands is about 30 miles. Oh geez! It is some of the most alien and stark terrain I’ve ever seen – yet it is beautiful and colorful at the same time.
Most striking to me was how the rolling, grassy green prairie just drops off into an abyss of barren rock.
It’s really easy to see how the area got it’s name.
D. Minute Man Missle site
This was definitely a let-down. Contrary to the information on the webiste, the site was completely closed. Bummer.
E. Dignity Statue, Chamberlain, SD
Before we left on our 2 1/2 year RV trip in 2015, Jere had seen information about the Dignity Statue on a travel website. It was on our “want to go” list, but we never managed to get this far north. This was the chance, so we took it. If you are in the area, definitly stop and take a gander.
F. Left Trailrace Campground, Ft. Thompson, SD
[Night of May 17] Set on the banks of the Missouri Rivier, this campground was created by and is managed by the Army Corp of Engineers. Whenever they did a waterworks project (like a dam), part of the land was set aside for recreation. Usually that also includes an RV park. They are always well maintained, with large sites and excellent services. Plus, with our National Parks Senior Pass we get 1/2 price … which for this park was $9 for the night with a full hook-up!
When we left in the morning it was driving and driving a driving. Yes, driving NORTH (which you probably realize is not the direction to Florida, our ultimate destination). BUT, we still needed to hit North Dakota in order to finish visiting all the lower 48 states. So we went north.
G. Oriska Rest Area (North Dakota)
[Night of May 18] It was so windy that it was really difficult to drive the bus and keep it on the road. With it’s wide, tall and flat sides, it’s like a sail. Driving north was ok, but driving east was nearly impossible. We finally had to stop for the night and hope the wind died down a little. The bus was literally shaking during the night with the wind gusts (up to about 40 mph). Luckily it was better in the morning (gusts were down to about 20 mph).
H. Fargo, North Dakota
It was a short drive to Fargo, where we just had to stop at the Visitors Center. If you’ve ever seen the movie, you’ll know just what this is (and whose foot is sticking out of it).
After visiting Fargo, we continued east, through Minnesota. Still windy and a lot of road construction made the trip a little more difficult that we like. And then we hit Minneapolis during rush hour. That wasn’t so fun at all. But it did mean we could cross Minnesota off the list of states to visit!
I. Menemonie Rest Area (Wisconsin)
[Night of May 19] For the night we stopped at the rest area in Menemonie, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, we were parked between two big trucks, one of which had refridgerated container – which means that the compressor runs continually. All. Night. Long.
Arriving in Wisconsin means that we have officially been to (in our RV) 47 of the 48 lower states. Just California to go, and we’ll get that on the way back.
J. Baraboo, Wisconsin
[May 20] Finally we arrived in Baraboo. The reason for stopping here in particular is that my great-great-grandparents were early settlers here and I wanted to research them a bit at the local library and Historical Center. I’ll have more data on that after I have some time digging in. Looks promising so far!
We are staying in a great RV park just north of Baraboo and will be here for a few days while we wait for some Amazon and other orders to get shipped to us.