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Mt. Rushmore is crazy...
Great sign at Wall Drug!
Tara lost her 2nd tooth at Wall Drug!
Sunset over South Dakota
We woke up in South Dakota to another fantastic day and headed directly to Mt. Rushmore. Can you believe that there isn't any Geocaches at Mt. Rushmore? That's just not right. Anyway, since it was the tail end of the Holiday week there were a ton of people there already at 10am. I loved the promenade with the granite pillars displaying each State's flag, the large viewing area and friendly faces everywhere we looked. I bet there was a person there from every State, let alone tons of Canadians and overseas guests. The gift shop area was gigantic but fun to look through and I was able to purchase my first Christmas present!
Concerning Mt. Rushmore itself, it certainly is majestic and awe-inspiring. It's educational in that it prompted questions from the kids about the people they were seeing, although they picked out Abe Lincoln and George Washington right away, which made me pretty proud since they're not even in kindergarten yet. On the other hand, the whole thing is kind of absurd. Here is this fairly unattractive formation that someone thought might look better with some heads chopped into it. And the amount of money that the government must make off of this attraction is sure to boggle the mind. It was $10 per car just for the privilege to park near it! What can I say, I'm glad we did it but I have no desire to "rush" back....
Now Wall Drug was another matter altogether. I've heard people talking about Wall Drug since I was a teenager and I truly didn't get it. What was all the hype about? Where in world was Wall Drug? Is it just a drug store? Is this some sort of joke? Well, I just had to find out about this crazy place for myself, while Mike snickered the whole way. Of course he had already been there before so he knew all about the off-the-wall zaniness that was about to greet us.
The small town drugstore made its first step towards fame when it was purchased by Ted Hustead in 1931. Hustead was a Nebraska native and pharmacist who was looking for a small town with a Catholic Church in which to establish his business. He bought Wall Drug, located in a 231-person town in what he referred to as "the middle of nowhere", and strove to make a living. Business was very slow until his wife, Dorothy, got the idea to advertise free ice water to parched travellers heading to the newly-opened Mount Rushmore monument 60 miles to the west. From that time on business was brisk. Wall Drug grew into a cowboy-themed shopping mall. Wall Drug includes a western art museum, a chapel, restaurants, shops and an 80-foot Apatosaurus that can be seen right off I-90.
Needless to say, it was a fun stop. They still offer free ice water to every person that enters, 5 cent coffee and free donuts. We had a great time exploring the place and Tara even lost a tooth while we ate some grub. We picked up a couple of fun little souvenirs and even got a free bumper sticker! Bonus!
We spent the rest of the day traveling I-90 across South Dakota heading towards our destination of Sioux City, IA.