Corny Places and Badland-ings
Upon leaving Minnesota we saw a pile of corn - miles and miles of corn. So naturally when the billboards started for the coveted Corn Palace in South Dakota I was jonesing to check it out. I should start by saying there is not much in South Dakota...like not much at all. By the time we arrived at the exit for the Corn Palace I was thrilled. I was not very excited to find out that it's a fair drive off the exit, only building my excitement that magical things would surely be found inside. Unfortunately for us it was undergoing a huge renovation. The road was torn up in the front and chain link fence was up all around the entrance. We weaved up to the side door and found a makeshift gift shop inside the Gymnasium portion of the palace. The outside "corn" part of the palace was nothing more than templates where someone would eventually glue up half ears of dried up corn in different colors to make a mural. Needless to say… Ben was loving every minute of its pathetic misery, because that meant that I would be less excited to stop at future sub-par attractions.
|Can you see the excitement?!|
|Meh.... the excitement has popped, so to speak.|
|A good rock stack at sunset in the Badlands.|
|Our beautiful view at camp the first night.|
|The sunset in the Badlands|
|Saddle Pass gains 200+ feet of elevation in a quarter mile.|
|Ben passed the end of the Window Trail.|
|Looking back towards the other way.|
|More Badlands (this used to be underwater FYI)|
|Bighorn Sheep chowing on some breakfast.|
|Ben rockin' the GoPro|
After the Corn Palace we had a lot of room for improvement in terms of roadside attractions; Wall Drug delivered… sort of. The biggest plus for us was that there was Verizon LTE coverage there; the first we'd seen since we'd left Minneapolis. Wall Drug is a flea market of tchotchkes strewn across many different rooms and buildings with a few cafeterias mixed in. They also have a "backyard" of more of what I was looking for - things like a giant Jackalope that you can have your picture taken with, a gorilla playing the piano if you put $0.50 in the wall, free "ice cold" water that takes like chlorine, and an animatronic T-Rex that blows smoke and moves it's head every 12 minutes. I left Ben at a picnic table with strong LTE coverage and went to get some overpriced ice cream.
|Prairie Dog Running like a crazy man.|
|Wall Drug "fun?"|
|Where nukes used to be just dropped in the ground at Minuteman Missile.|
|Ben embarking on his first RawMeal|
|South Dakota sunset.|
|Presidents getting all kissy faced.|
|Devil's Tower HUGE from far away.|
|Huge-er up close.|
|High atop Big Horn National Forest|
|What we thought the medicine wheel was, this is a radar for airplanes, NOT the medicine wheel.|
|Big Horn National Recreation Area campsite view in the morning.|
We had planned on staying at a roadside motel once we got to the other side on the mountains but when we found out even the crappy ones with bad reviews were $70 a night, we reconsidered. So as it was late and I was getting "hangry" we started to look for a nearby campground and we lucked out. A while down a back road there is a National Recreation Area on a lake with totally free camping for the non-electric sites – there were flushing toilets and sinks. To date this has been my favorite site we've camped at, but there is no telling if my hungry, cranky self was just uber excited to have a place to lay down or if it was truly that great.
The next morning we packed up and headed to the Grand Tetons via Yellowstone National Park.