First Stop the Badlands

Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
Trip End Sep 25, 2005

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Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Friday, September 2, 2005

Leaving Chicago early one Thursday, we drove north through Wisconsin and Minnesota. Our first night was really Sioux Falls, South Dakota, just to break up the trip, but our first real stop was in the Badlands National Park. Since we were hitting it at the end of the season, last minute reservations weren't a problem, although choice of accommodations in the park is limited. I had visited the Badlands as a child and it hadn't changed in all those years as far as I could tell. En route, we picked up a speeding ticket (7 miles over cost us $79 and a stop in a local town to pay the ticket. But we stopped to visit a local Indian School Museum so it wasn't all a waste).

The Badlands were worth a one night layover, which gave us time to drive around the first day after checking into the Badlands Inn. We found a great little restaurant just on the edge of the north entrance, sort of a diner at a trailer park but with tasty and fresh food. The owners were a young couple transplanted from Michigan so we gave them a couple of the Michigan peaches we had brought with us from our local farmers' market back home. Food became a major issue during this whole trip as the overall quality of restaurant food in the US is pretty dismal.

The days of the local diners with homemade soups and pies and regional specialities are long gone. We did a lot of picnicking and while in Lake Louise cooked in most of the time. The food in the US National Parks is the worst, thanks to giving the concession to a large corporation. We found the food service in parks in Canada to be far superior. No wonder Americans are so obese. The quantities are huge and the food full of salt and grease almost everywhere. But I digress.

Driving out of the Badlands on the way to Mt. Rushmore, we took the rim road--countless photo ops of this almost surrealistic landscape. Back on the highway and counting all the signs for Wall Drugs. If you have driven this road, you know about the World Famous Wall Drugs. Again, I had been there as a child and again it hadn't changed. The amount of tschokes and bric a brac that can be crammed into one store is amazing and all made offshore these days. This is definitely one place that has managed to extend its 15 minutes of fame for over half a century and is famous for being famous. Unless you are shopping for shot glasses, key chains, and other doodads, the charm is very limited.

We hit Mt. Rushmore on a spectacularly clear day. Again, I had been there as a child and North by Northwest is one of my favorite movies, but that's about all you can say about this attraction.
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