Home Away From Home, South Dakota

On to the Badlands

Our plans for an early departure were thwarted when we were awakened early to pouring rain, thunder, lightning and wind. What to do? We really didn’t want to spend the day at Porter Sculpture but the wind was blowing and the road out was groveled and rutted in places. About 9:00 Jerry went over to talk with Wayne, the owner, and he assured Jerry that RV’s came in every day with no problem. We hastily buttoned up everything, prayed and off we went. The road was not good but could have been a lot worse. There were portions of muddy, water standing in places and then everything would be fine and then more standing water, plus the ruts. I held my breath until we made it to the highway.

The rain continued as we traveled toward Mitchell for a stop at the Corn Palace. The weather cleared as we neared Mitchell fortunately because we had to go around our thumbs to get to our elbows. Of course, there was construction and a detour. We finally located an RV parking lot a block behind and a block over from the Corn Palace. In fact, it looked like an RV Park as there were several RV’s there. The bonus of driving in the rain is a very clean windshield. The negative is a dirty RV and an even dirtier car! When I got out of the RV at the parking lot I was astounded at how filthy my car was. We definitely will need to go to a car wash.

The Corn Palace was interesting. Built to encourage a flagging economy with an aim to becoming the state capital it attracted many fans during those early days. We watched a video on the history. Afterward, a guide took us in the gift shop and explained the corn murals on the wall. The left side of the shop paid tribute to the white settlers and the right side paid tribute to the native Americans. In the very center two hands were depicted indicating the union of the two.

Our next stop was the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center on I-90 accessible from both the east and the west. We went inside and were treated to a history of the expedition and several dioramas depicting various stages of the journey. Outside was the magnificent statue of Dignity of Earth and Sky. It is an astounding 50-foot statue honoring the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people. I can only imagine how magnificent it must be in the evening when the light is shining on it. After a couple of photo ops we retreated to the coach and had some BLT’s for lunch.

As we traveled along I-90 we saw bales and bales of what appeared to be hay. We later learned that the counties sell the rights to people to harvest and collect the grass, etc growing on the side of the road. That’s a lot more useful than the mowing that goes on in North Carolina. Of course, it may not be grass but a combination of something else. As we looked out the coach windows we saw miles and miles, as far as we could see, of land. For the most part, nothing else could be seen and we wondered what as beyond our view.

I had to eat my words today. I had earlier declared that I would not be stopping at another Pilot station for gas but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. We had about a half a tank which is when we like to start looking for a station. The only thing ahead was a Pilot. We decided to pull in a and assess it. If we could get in and out easily, we’d stop there but if it looked like the station we had gone to earlier when we blocked traffic the answer was no. Guess our surprise when not only did we realize we could get in easily but they had two dedicated RV lanes. Easy peasy. A few minutes later we had a full tank and were on the road again.

To get to the town of Interior you have to go right through Badlands National Park. The road was curvy, winding, bumpy and oh my gosh, what next! We were able to use our American the Beautiful pass for entry. At first glimpse, the Badlands were awesome, majestic, otherworldly, mind-blowing.

After we drove through the park we drove into Interior – did we miss it, population 94 – to get to the Badlands/White River KOA. Check-in was accomplished quickly and then we were led to our campsite. That always makes it so much easier than having to ride around trying to locate a site. As soon as we got parked, I went out to do my part of getting the car detached. Yep, the battery was dead. It hadn’t been started in 48 hours so dead it was. This is not the first time it has happened. Jerry thinks something may be wrong with the electrical system and plans to get it checked out when we return home. Meanwhile, we won’t go that long without starting it.

One of the neighbors came over and jumped the car and we left it running while we continued to set up. It was terribly hot and we were both dripping wet with sweat when we got everything done.

Jerry wanted to go for a ride to recharge the batteries and I had wanted to stop at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to get the lay of the land for tomorrow plus we needed some basic groceries so off we went. Since we both needed to go into the Visitor’s Center we skipped that. We couldn’t leave the car running in the parking lot with no one in it and both of us needed to go into the center. We rode on to Wall, SD.

Like everyone, I had heard so much about Wall Drug and I accepted that it was a kitschy, tourist trap so was not surprised when we finally got there. By the way, it didn’t take long. The speed limit on I-90 is 80, quite a bit faster than we were going in the RV and quite a difference from NC. Wall Drug seems to be several stores all connected with most anything you might need or want. We wandered around briefly but didn’t spend much time there as our serious stop was the grocery store. We actually found a small store in Wall and were able to get everything we needed. It always makes me feel proud when I go in a store and see a jar of Mt. Olive pickles made in Mt. Olive, NC which is not far from our home. It’s a little bit of home while we are so far away and I always look for them in the store.

While we were on the way to Wall, I had my computer, my iPhone and my iPad. I needed to pay some bills and like we were told yesterday there is no Internet at the campground and no cell service so I took care of that while Jerry zoomed down the highway.

The guy that jumped our car told us that there was another camper from NC so when we returned we put wings out to thaw and walked around the campground looking for an NC license plate. We found it but no one was there. We were told two things about the campground. One, no cell service and the other, mosquitoes were abundant! Our walk was cut short as the mosquitoes and bugs were flying around like jet planes. We returned to the coach, had our dinner and settled our plans for the next day. Hopefully, we will be up early and out hiking before it gets too hot.

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