Sunday 29 August 2010

Day 2 - Dances With Billboards

This morning started right on time. Alarm off, us up! Awesome. Sluggishly dragging ourselves down for breakfast, I raised an eyebrow to Joe going in just his socks…pretty sure you aren’t at home, buddy. An old lady got in the lift and must of agreed Joe was getting too homely as she offered to make us breakfast herself. Um, thanks? Despite being right on time, we somehow managed to gorge on breakfast and leave an hour later than planned…Oops, where does the time go?
It was another long day of quiet highways along the open plains. At least today we got to see the terrain change drastically twice.
When driving through South Dakota, the only thing to really entertain you is billboards and boy does SD have them in spades. Billboards don’t usually have much impact on me, but after seeing a ridiculous amount one did keep drawing us in. So we decided to make an unscheduled stop at the 1880 Town with the promise of sets from the film ‘Dances with Wolves’. Joe’s a Costner nut, so really was there any doubt whether we should stop? I knew I packed my cowboy boots at the last minute for a reason!
1880 Town was not actually a town in 1880, the land only started being used in 1969, with all the original 1880 buildings being brought to the location over time. Didn’t matter though, it looked pretty convincing. There was a lot of cool stuff to see and due to the heat it really made you realize just how hot and tense it must have been back in the Wild West.
Everything was small, hot and dusty to the point that we just had to get out of the sun and back into the car’s modern day air con... When we hit the road this morning we couldn’t figure how our GPS had us getting to Wall Drug an hour ahead of our estimate. Silly GPS…Nope, silly us! At some point we went into Mountain Time, I guess the mountains is ‘where the time goes’ and the GPS was smart enough to calculate this. Gotta love technology! This discovery was good news as we were behind schedule for Wall Drug!

Wall Drug was a drugstore in the town of Wall suffering a rough time back in the 1930’s. As a way to drum up business the owners, Ted & Dorothy Hustead, came up with the idea of offering free ice water & 5 cent coffee to wary freeway travels. To get the word out they put up billboards, but over time the billboards became a standing joke as they ended up in various places all over America. In fact we saw our first one yesterday while still in North Dakota! Nationwide fame followed & now the stop is its own tourist attraction, still serving free ice water and 5 cents coffee.
Wall Drug is a weird mix of cute and commercial. There’s enough to entertain for half hour, but at its core it’s nothing more than a pit-stop with its own personalized merchandise. We grabbed a late lunch of apple pie and then headed deeper into the Black Hills of SD, making it to Rapid City.
Instead of taking it easy we decided to splash into our hotels waterpark. Extremely overpriced for 3 slides and the worlds smallest lazy river, but good fun nonetheless.
So, until tomorrow…

The Jopinion Page: "Dakota Building"

Two states in two days. Not bad. If we kept up this pace, we could be done a month early. Alas, the last 48 hours hasn't been us 'jumping the gun'. On the contrary. We know that we're in a matathon and not a sprint. It's simply been a case of The Dakotas doing what they do best: nothing.

Don't get me wrong, we've pulled into the edge of the Black Hills tonight and I do like THIS area alot -- but getting to this point (some 700 miles from home), has been hard.

There isn't alot to say about North Dakota. South Dakota has so much more to offer (and it seems to know it). To look at a map of America, South Dakota confidently sits there, not appearing to bend or strain under North Dakota's oppresive weight. One glance at our Rand McNally Atlas, and it's clear that South Dakota relishes in this power. The State seems to hold up it's northern brother, taking in it's southern traveling tourists (like us) and apologizing on their behalf. Like Dennis Quaid looking upon Randy and shaking his head in shame while smiling, South Dakota seems to love North Dakota--yet knows full well that people usually only go there while heading to the Black Hills.

Long thought short: the two states feel like one. One, godforsaken field that takes days to cross. But if it was alright by the Indian's, it's alright by me. I just wish the Wall Drug billboards would blow down already. These signs line the Interstate, promising more entertainment than an advert for 'Glee'...but like 'Glee', Wall Drug does nothing but disappoint and slightly repulse.

Coming into The foothills tonight was a bit more interesting. South Dakota is starting to show us why it's worth visiting. The jagged horizon of the Black Hills started to cut through the treeless, brown fields as we got to the hotel. Topographically speaking, tomorrow should have a lot of ups-and-downs. All I have to say to that is: 'Thank God'. It was hard to tell today if the car was even moving at times. Every time I looked out the window, I saw the same thing. Between Mitchell, SD and Rapid City, the face of South Dakota is that of your average middle-class, American teen: golden tan in color and peppered with round bails of hay. The agricultural pimples that grow larger and more frequent the greasier the food gets along I-90. Speaking of which: dinner tonight at Arby's was a terrible idea. I won't do that again. I ate too much. Sioux-y, Sioux-y!

Now it's time for a quick nights sleep and then it's off to Mount Rushmore and all that hullabaloo. The bed looks comfy and the sheets look measle-free so I guess I can't complain...but I will anyway.

Joe's complaint of the day: 'Damn it's dry and windy here. I'm wasting my Chapstick!


  1. Hey Hey, I'm loving the blog, your hair and the pictures!!!!

    Can you please take a picture of Alabama for me as I would like to see that!! I know you're only waving on through!

    I wrote this big long comment yesterday and it wouldn't work from my phone :-( Will try and set myself up on here as I don't really know what I'm doing!

    Joe's quote of the day was awesome!! xx

  2. Loz, glad you're loving the blog! I've been hoping people are actually reading it!
    I promise we'll take at least one photo of Alabama just for you and don't worry, we'll also be going through Wisconsin for the billionth time on the way home so you may even get one from there too!!!