Wall Drug. Talk about a change in environment. From the seriousness of the Pine Ridge Reservation to the incredible tackiness of the tourist trap of Wall Drug. We arrived in Wall, SD after a long drive north from Pine Ridge. The drive took us through some pretty quiet locations and through a portion of the Badlands. It was a totally touristy day, it felt like a much needed break after a week of some pretty intense volunteering on the reservation. We arrived in Wall with enough time to decompress, unpack, and relax before walking one block to Wall Drug.
Wall Drug got it’s name on the map by giving away ice water to motorists on Interstate 90. The free water was just a ploy to get customers into the store. Eventually the signs for the drug store spread around the world and soon everyone knew of Wall Drug. Today, not only can you get free ice water, but you can buy cowboy boots, purchase jewelry, Sturgis shirts, any number of tacky tourist items, have lunch in the cafe, see a mechanized dinosaur, sit on a giant Jackalope, and have your picture taken with a replica of a number of famous South Dakotans or western characters.
There isn’t much else in Wall. Some tourist shops, a bank, hotels, gas stations, and homes. I’m not sure if it is really worth a visit, but it was a nice break. We stayed at the Sunshine Inn, definitely worth checking out. Simple but clean and the owner was really friendly.
After leaving Wall, we drove through hours of empty grasslands on Routes 14 East and 63 North. When I say empty, I really mean empty. There were large grain transfer stations, farm fields, and cattle. But little else. I am sure there were farms around, but not close to the roads. Every road that went off the routes we were traveling was dirt. There was nothing but land and lots of it.
Eventually we reached the Cheyenne River Reservation and drove into Eagle Butte, our home for the next two nights. We’re staying a place called “Harding Motel”. To put it in the nicest way possible, it has character. It is not the worse place I have stayed, and I have spent the night in some pretty interesting hotels. It is clean enough, quiet, and has a fridge and microwave. There is also a coffee room that always seems to be open; this is probably the best thing about the motel!
More on Cheyenne River tomorrow.
We stopped at the National Grassland Visitor Center. I thought this prayer was fitting for a time during which the interior of the continent was ravaged by drought.