Hey, it's the South Dakota state line! Yahoo - I'm almost home!
|World famous Wall Drug|
During the week I spent at home, one of the first places on my "must visit" list was the Badlands. But you can't take a trip to the Badlands without stopping by the town of Wall and the world-famous Wall Drug Store! So my parents and I dropped in for lunch and a quick tour.
Wall Drug was created by Ted Hustead, when he bought the small drugstore in 1931. To entice travelers to stop at this tiny town, his wife suggested offering free ice water. From that point on business was brisk. The drugstore has grown into a cowboy-themed shopping mall featuring a western art museum, chapel, restaurant (buffalo burgers are their specialty), and dozens of kitschy animated western scenes.
|Any kind of shop imaginable!|
Besides free ice water, Wall Drug's claim to fame is the many billboards lining I-90 in both directions, through South Dakota and into the neighboring states. There's even Wall Drug signs in many US states and other countries, all noting the mileage to this famous tourist attraction. Wall Drug also offers free bumper stickers (with slogans such as "Where the heck is Wall Drug?") to anyone who asks.
|I found a friend|
As a kid growing up nearby, I loved stopping by Wall Drug. It was good fun to put a quarter in and listen to the animated cowboy orchestra sing. Or watch the animals play poker. Or strike a pose by one of the wooden western figures.
|Hot poker game|
But the best part was outside....in the Wall Drug "backyard." Here one could find a life-sized stuffed buffalo, or a larger than life rabbit, a covered wagon that kids could scramble on, or.....you could ride the famous jackalope!
|Ridin' the jackalope|
What can I say? I'm just a kid at heart!
Yes, some may dismiss Wall Drug as just another gimmicky tourist trap, but I happen to love it's charming corniness.
After getting my Wall Drug fix for another year, my parents and I drove the short 20 miles to Badlands National Park. Our mid-afternoon arrival on a sunny, hot day didn't make the best conditions for photography.
But the dramatic eroded hillsides are picturesque no matter the time of day. My dad willingly drove the main Badlands Loop Road, from the Pinnacles entrance to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, pulling off whenever I spotted something to photograph.
It was a blazing hot day, so my parents often stayed in their air-conditioned car while I hopped out to capture the scenery.
Despite the hot, dry weather, a few yellow wildflowers were still blooming. I also enjoyed the wide-open panoramic views from some overlooks. You could see afternoon clouds building across the horizon.
|Afternoon clouds building|
The Badlands is also known for it's prolific wildlife - buffalo, antelope, deer, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs! Prairie dog towns litter the landscape, and the little critters are fun to watch.
|Prairie dog trio|
I was hoping to capture some images of these cute little rodents. But the first place my dad stopped, the prairie dogs scampered down their holes the minute I got out of the car.
|Prairie dog kiss|
Driving a little further, my dad noticed a prairie dog town that was right up to the road's pavement. Prairie dogs were sitting at the very edge of the road.
|Fat little guy|
Parking the car right next to their holes didn't faze the prairie dogs in the least. I discovered as long as I didn't leave my dad's car the prairie dogs stayed put. So I stuck my camera lens out the window and fired away.
Oh I got some great photos! The prairie dogs had some cute poses.....so much fun to watch! My dad even spotted a meadowlark in the grass, and I was able to capture several images of it too.
|I really liked this scruffy one|
Wide-open spaces, a quirky drugstore, and super-cute grassland critters - my South Dakota trip was off to a great start!
But even better, I was about to meet another long time blogging buddy. Stop by my next post to find out who!
Sharing with: Saturday's Critters