|On Tuesday, 8/21, we drove north from North Platte through the Nebraska Sand Hills, which are wonderful to see. They are rolling moguls (the ski type, not the moneybags type) covered with grass. Because the grass has been cut, the fields are dotted with hay bales, some square and some the big round ones. Periodically we would see a large pile of hay; I puzzled over these for a while until I thought "aha - haystacks!" How quickly we forget! There are few if any houses along this route - only a couple of small towns - so it's an uninterrupted view of the rolling hills.
We went through Valentine, Nebraska, where the main street signs are red instead of the usual green, and where there is a huge, unusual brick relief mural on the bank building right on the main street. Since we'd like to photograph the sand hills, we are tentatively planning to go back through this area, so perhaps I'll get a picture of the mural then. There was no place to stop the trailer for a picture this time through.
We are staying here for nearly a week (we need to wait for a mail delivery), so we're taking things slowly. We've driven through the Badlands - enormous stone outcroppings that jut out of the ground, forming peak and turrets, along with more rounded areas that show striations of the various geological ages. It's an amazing area and we'll be going back to photograph it at the right time of day to get the full effect of the rocks. We've also visited a Prairie Homestead, with a genuine sod house and a collection of extremely territorial geese, not to mention what seems like thousands of prairie dogs, and an 1880 Town. The latter is a very clever tourist attraction made up of buildings (and the contents of what surely must be every attic in South Dakota) brought from other places and set up to resemble a frontier town. Except for the loudspeakers everywhere playing heroic, but annoying, music, we really enjoyed this place. The weather when we were there was cool, which helped a lot.
And we went to Wall Drug Store. If you've driven anywhere in the West, you've seen signs for Wall Drug. It started in 1936 when the owners, seeking to attract travelers to their drug store in the small town of Wall, SD, put signs (modeled on the Burma-Shave signs) along the highway, advertising Free Ice Water. Three generations and millions of cups of free ice water later, it's a phenomenon. There's still a drugstore, but it's also a souvenir shop (or ten), a gallery of historic photographs, a couple of cafes and an overall monument to kitsch. You have to see it, but you don't necessary need to see it more than once. After lunch and a look around, we walked down the street to the National Grasslands Visitors Center to see the exhibit of photographs by our friend Don Kirby, who is in the middle of a project to photograph on all the grasslands. Very nice, and worth a visit if you're in the area. I'm not sure how long they will be there beyond this fall, however.
Overall we've had cooler weather here (about time, I say!) with a couple of days of rain, when it was downright chilly. As I write this I'm contemplating turning on the heat, since it's raining, has been raining since about 9:00 this morning, and looks to continue a good part of the afternoon. It's 63 degrees - sorry, Arizona friends!
We'll be here until Tuesday 8/28, when we'll move a short distance to the Black Hills area to visit all the tourist attractions around that section of the state.