Thursday, April 23, 2015

Trek Across a Country: Day 4

Last night at the Granite City Food and Brewery and had my first bison burger. It was very beefy and had a good non-gamey taste. I’d have it again.

In the morning, we were up by 6am to make it to Sioux Falls Park. It was a quick jaunt to downtown and we were one of the first people there. The Falls are small but they were very tranquil. After a few more minutes we hit the road towards Badlands National Park in Interior, South Dakota.

Let me say first that this took four hours by car and largely through massive prairie land, very sparsely populated flat land. Just wide open. We stopped at the corn palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. This landmark was a erected to show the fertile nature of the land in this region of the country. The building is adorned in maize art. Unfortunately the museum area was not opened and we were quite disappointed to see that there was an sports arena inside. With our disappointment palpable we kept on the road. Every two miles on highway 90 (for many many miles through the flat part of the state) there is sign for Wall Drug in Wall South Dakota. I'll get to that part soon. "The small town drugstore made its first step towards fame when it was purchased by Ted Hustead in 1931. Hustead was a Nebraska native and pharmacist who was looking for a small town with a Catholic church in which to establish his business. He bought Wall Drug, located in a 231-person town in what he referred to as "the middle of nowhere," and strove to make a living. Business was very slow until his wife, Dorothy, got the idea to advertise free ice water to parched travelers heading to the newly opened Mount Rushmore monument 60 miles (97 km) to the west."

Once we entered into the  Badlands National Park one fact hit me- this was my first time ever to a National Park. It was National Park Week, so we entered for free. This was perfect timing for our visit as it was during the off season. Walking towards the sedimentary rocks and eroding hills, I was awe struck by the serene nature of this park. After walking around for a while we went to the visitor center. Now, I'll admit that US history wasn’t my favorite part of high school, mostly because it was poorly taught, but it truly felt like history was coming alive. Seeing the landscape that the plains indigenous live on is eye-opening. Unfortunately, the indigenous do not run this park, the national park service does. For me, this was upsetting. Of course I was just a transient passerby but it is quite undeniable the connection between this land and its indigenous people that are trying to regain their identity. As my husband says, history is told by the victors. 

After the Badlands we decided to follow the local signs to Wall, Drug South Dakota, advertised every mile on the highway towards Rapid City. Their key offering is 5 cent coffee and free ice water. Sadly, we felt trapped in a tourist nightmare with trinkets all around. We got out unscathed and unimpressed.  We flew right through Rapid City while listening to pop hits of the 90s playing, “name that band” and headed to keystone to stay closer to mount Rushmore, which turned out to be a good idea. Again we avoided tourist season and this meant we were only a handful of people in the town that night.  As we were in the black hills of South Dakota it was colder and I missed my winter coat on top of the car in the box.

After a long day there is nothing like kicking back in good company with good food. Cheers.

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