Bucket List Destination #2: Wranglers, Wall, and Washington

We hit the road a little past nine this morning and started heading south. Just after we crossed the border into South Dakota and started heading west, we saw a “truly Western scene,” as Grandmother said. We watched as four cowboys galloped along across a waving expanse of grass after a herd of cattle. A few collies were running about, and we all thought they must be having the time of their lives. Tim pulled to the side of the road, and we rolled down the windows and sat and listened to the sounds of the cows calling, the cowboys shouting, the dogs barking, the grass rustling, and the birds singing. It was pretty perfect.

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One of the things we talked about was how flat the Dakotas were until we were closer to Keystone. It seemed like you could see for miles and miles and miles, and then the hills began out of nowhere. We were in part of the Badlands before we knew it. One of the things we’ve also commented on a couple occasions is how different and far away parts of the world can be, but how often you encounter places that remind you of others you’ve seen that can be halfway across the world. We were reminded of England and Scotland as we drove through Wisconsin, some of the greens on the hillsides in South Dakota reminded Grandmother of Ireland.

The wind is pretty amazing out on the plains… you feel like you might be blown over at any point! So, instead of a repeat of our lunch experience yesterday, we opted to enjoy our chicken salad (this is a loose label–it was really just canned chicken mixed with mayo and celery!) sandwiches in the car as we drove through Aberdeen, South Dakota.

On the recommendation of 1000 Places, we stopped at Wall Drug store, about an hour outside of Keystone. What a fun, kitschy place to spend an hour and stretch our legs after 7 hours in the car! We took some silly pictures and had some of Wall’s homemade ice cream in the soda shop. The drug store originally started drawing tourists in 1931 by advertising for free ice water, so naturally we also had some of that as well.

Outside Wall Drug
Outside Wall Drug
Enjoying the Cowboy Band that plays every fifteen minutes...
Enjoying the Cowboy Band that plays every fifteen minutes…
Enjoying the famous ice cold water
Enjoying the famous ice cold water

We got to the hotel in Keystone, and I rejoiced after the experience of last night. Quiet, clean, and good Internet access for my work day tomorrow! After dropping off our stuff, we headed directly for Mt. Rushmore. After walking in, we camped out in great seats for the 9 p.m. lighting ceremony.

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We started listening to The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, so we didn’t do as much talking today, but here are still some highlights from the day:

On Uncle Mike: Uncle Mike came to the rescue when Grandmother went into labor with Linette, making sure all the kids got to school and taking care of baby Darrel. She had to take a taxi to the hospital because Grandfather was out of town. Uncle Mike called the hospital so much that the nurses told Grandmother she needed to call her son as soon as she got a room. Grandfather came home, sat down, and opened a paper before it occurred to him to ask where Grandmother was.

Uncle Mike also helped her out driving through Baltimore City with a trailer just after getting his license.

On her first job: Grandmother talked about getting her first job when she was 15 and how her heart pounded when she approached the lady who owned the 5 and 10 cent store about getting a job. She said she really enjoyed her first job. Quite a bit of her pay went to the pharmacy for sodas, ice cream, and sandwiches, though one summer she saved up to buy herself a beautiful winter coat.

 

Tomorrow is a work day for me, so I’ll be up bright and early. Tim is thinking of exploring Keystone and Deadwood; Grandmother says she’ll shampoo her hair and relax until I’m off work in the early afternoon. We might go back to Mt. Rushmore or head to Crazy Horse before we hit the road to Billings in the late afternoon.

L

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