We left the Custer area on Tuesday morning, bound eventually for our friends’ home in Columbia, Missouri, but first we had about 900+ miles to go to get there. We saw lots and lots of grain crops and a few intriguing sights as well. One of the first sights we noticed were many, many roadside signs advertising Wall Drug, famous for its 5 cent coffee and its free ice water. Of course we decided to stop, especially when the signs started advertising donuts, ice cream, and lots of other foods and merchandise. Located in the town of Wall, this giant store resembles a small mall – there are lots of stores within the main Wall Drug. The store advertises itself as a 76,000 square foot wonderland. The Wall Drug Store got its start during the Depression years by offering free ice water to thirsty travelers. They now have water fountains and cups in their huge backyard, along with an arcade, an animated T-Rex, a panning and mining experience for fossils and gemstones, a train station water show plus fun picture-taking props in a picnic area. However, the water we tasted was not even cold! The coffee is still five cents a cup, but the fresh (and delicious) donut I bought was priced at $1.25, and they only had four varieties: maple iced, vanilla iced, chocolate iced, and plain cake – which is my favorite so that’s what I bought. Fred wanted a glazed donut, but they didn’t offer that, so he didn’t buy anything. I am still glad we stopped, since we had heard that everyone stops in at Wall Drug!
Somewhere in the middle of a wheat field on I-90 near the town of Murdo, we noticed another interesting sight: a giant metal sculpture of a dinosaur being led by the skeleton on a man! I was not able to get a photo of it, so I looked it up on the Internet. I found a photo on a link for offbeat tourist attractions: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/7615 in case anyone wants to see what the skeletons look like!
Later in the afternoon, we visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, which serves as a multi-use center for the community and region. The facility hosts stage shows as well as sports events in its arena. The “World's Only Corn Palace” is a giant building which stands as a tribute to the agricultural heritage of South Dakota. The original Corn Palace, called "The Corn Belt Exposition," was built in 1892. Early settlers displayed the fruits of their harvest on the building exterior in order to showcase the fertility of South Dakota soil. The present building was completed for its first festival at the present location in 1921. Each year, the exterior decorations are completely stripped down and new murals are created. The theme is selected by the Corn Palace Festival Committee and murals are designed by a local artist. Each year over 2000 bushels of corn and 40 tons of other grains such as grasses, sour dock and rye straw are used for the designs. We learned that the annual Corn Palace Festival was going to start the next day, and vendors were busy putting up food and souvenir stands all around the Palace. Kenny Rogers was scheduled as the featured act for the Palace show on Wednesday, but by then we will be far away from South Dakota.
We finally reached Sioux Falls, South Dakota; we had planned to spend the night in a local Wal Mart parking lot, but found out it was right on a super busy highway. Where we’d have to park would be right in a super noisy area, so we called a local RV park nearby and decided to stay there tonight.