Day 17: Rapid City, SD to Sioux City, IA

Trip Start Jul 29, 2007
Trip End Aug 18, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Iowa
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Day 17: Rapid City, SD to Sioux City, IA

States covered: SD, IA (#17 of trip, #21 for Abby, #47 for Paul)
Miles: 456
Highlights: Wall Drug, Cruising through the Badlands, Corn Palace
Nat'l Park visits: Badlands National Park; Minuteman Missile Nat'l Historic Site
Abby meltdowns: 1 when mom and dad stopped for too many pictures in Badlands
Tumbleweeds in road successfully avoided: 1
Weather: Hot, but low 90's seem much cooler relative to yesterday. The rain that was promised all day finally hit for a few minutes in Southeastern SD.
Phrase of the Day: "Ears to you." Billboard for Corn Palace

Trivia: What type of dog is native to the Badlands area of South Dakota?

Trivia Answer: Honest Jill was right...Tom Brokaw, a native South Dakotan, narrates the film shown in the Mount Rushmore visitor center.

We finally made some progress East today...all the way to Sioux City, IA. OK, we are barely into Iowa, but it is progress nonetheless. We had another quirk-filled day in South Dakota. Immediately upon entering Highway 90 East out of Rapid City, we were inundated with signs advertising Wall Drug 51 miles away in Wall, S.D., so of course we set our GPS for a stop. If you aren't familiar with Wall Drug, it is tourist attraction with the same advertising zeal (we saw our first billboard in Wyoming actually) and general road trip stop appeal as South of the Border, but with a Western town theme. It is also a bit cleaner than it's southern counterpart. It was actually started in the 30's by a couple as a small drug store. To drum up business during the depression, the wife suggested advertising free ice water (and later 5 cent coffee) and when her plan worked her skeptical husband began going crazy placing billboards all over the state and beyond. Wall Drug has now grown into a whole Western themed town filled with tourists, but the water is still free and the coffee 5 cents. It provided a plethora of kitschy picture opportunities for the O'Briens - including lots of hats...Abby was a sport. Apparently Wall Drug employees and patrons had never seen a baby in a Bjorn carrier because Ann received a number of slant glances and comments about carrying her baby in "that thing."

Next we drove through Badlands National Park. Paul and Ann had been there seperately a number of years ago, but we had a nice drive through the beautiful Park and a lunch stop. Before hitting I-90, we stopped at Minuteman Missile NHS, a national park site that preserves a nuclear missile silo site. There are no more active Minuteman silos in SD (they were dismantled pursuant to START) and we weren't in time for a tour, but the small interpretive center was pretty neat. Keep it in mind when visiting the Black Hills area.

Abby then settled in for a good long snooze and we powered through a couple hundred miles of South Dakota, finally stopping in Mitchell, S.D. at the Corn Palace. The only one in the world decorated entirely with corn! They have been re-doing it every year for over 115 years with a different theme each year. 2007: Salute to Rodeo. Needless to say, it was A-MAIZE-ING.

At a cross roads, we had to decide whether to go through southern Minnesota or Iowa or some combination to try to reach Chicago. Paul had not been to either state (neither had Abby). We thought about going to a Minnesota state grab and heading back to Iowa, but we decided to save Minnesota for a future trip when we could visit our friend Nancy. So we headed to Iowa and a more reasonable end to our day in Sioux City. Abby was happy with our decision.

Blog Note: We have a long haul ahead of us Wednesday as we try to make it to Chicago to stay with our friend Yvette (we need to try to get there before the baby is born!), so we will likely update the blog the next day.
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