Our drive today took us across the South Dakota prairie & thru Buffalo Gap National Grassland. It was a beautiful drive. Then we came to the Badlands National Park & drove into another world. We were concerned about driving thru while pulling the trailer but the loop road thru the park was excellent & we had no problems. (We didn't take the dirt road down into the lower section of the park.) The peaks, gullies, buttes & wide prairies of the Badlands are breathtaking. They call it The Wall. It extends for 100 miles thru the dry plains - a huge natural barrier ridging the landscape, sculptured into fantastic pinnacles & tortuous gullies by the forces of water. It divides the upper prairie on the north & the lower prairie to the south. There are a number of trails you can take to explore the area but we just stopped at pullouts to admire the ever changing views & drove out the other end of the loop.
And at the other end of the loop is the town of Wall - home of the famous Wall Drug that we'd seen so many signs advertising. In 1931 Dorothy & Ted Hustead bought the only drugstore in Wall. By the summer of 1936 the business hadn't grown much. On a hot July Sunday, Dorothy came up with a startling idea. Realizing that all the cars going by on the highway thru the hot, dusty prairie would have thirsty folks inside, she proposed that they put up signs on the highway telling people to come in for free ice water. And the rest, as they say, is history. Wall Drug still offers free ice water but it's grown into a block-sized emporium offering a little bit of everything that draws up to 20,000 people on a hot summer day. It's just too much shopping opportunity in one place!
After stretching our legs walking around Wall Drug, we were glad to get back on the road & to have our first sighting of the Black Hills. As we drove up into the hills & thru Custer State Park, the sights were familiar even though we'd never been here - the scenery reminded us of California & Colorado mountain views - with a few bison thrown in. It's great to be back in the mountains again!
We got settled in to our site at Custer Mountain Cabins & Campground. We're surrounded by tall pines & fresh mountain air - we're happy campers. Our site is right next door to LeeAnn & Larry McCormick - fulltime rv'ers we met thru our trip journals & then ran into once on the River Walk in San Antonio. We're looking forward to spending some time with them this week.
Well, we've finally caught up our journal entries & it's getting late. Lots of things to see in this area so there'll be lots ... more later...