Since this was supposed to be a mini-vacation (and I wanted to woit for delivery of a package from Amazon), I didn’t set the alarm for an early wake-up. Still, between awakening early on my own and the early arrival of my package, I was able to begin my journey at 9:30 a.m. As it worked out, this was a good thing because my destination was the famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. I wanted a cowboy hat and knew they would have a wide selection of the genuine article in stock.
SB’s odometer read 33,650 when I started. The Mapquest route indicated an 8.5 hour drive covering some 625 miles. With my departure time, I would only have about an hour to shop, but I tend to be the type of shopper who goes with a goal and a get-in-get-out attitude, so that should be plenty of time. What I didn’t account for was the amount of construction I would find and how much time it would cost. This eliminated any thought of making side stops at sites I had previously visited–just five years earlier, such as Dignity outside Chamberlin, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, and Deadwood. I literally cheered when the speed limit increased to 80 mph, yet I still started to get concerned that I wouldn’t get to Wall Drug in time. That is, until I saw the highway sign notifying me that I was crossing into Mountain Time, which gave me a critical additional hour.
I’ve also visited Badlands National Park previously, but I still left I-80 long enough to get a couple of pictures. BTW, I had no doubt I was in the area of the store because of the many, many, MANY signs advertising it and other venues along I-80 (strange I didn’t see one for Dignity, but that might have been intentional).
As you can see, I was already starting to have an issue with bug remains gathering on SB’s windshield. Despite my best efforts, this will be a problem throughout the trip. I kept looking at the bikers on the highway and wondering how they put up with them splattering on their helmet face covers.
I reached Wall Drug Store around 6:30 p.m. This was apparently a perfect time because the store was not overwhelmingly crowded as it was the last time I was in the area and decided it wasn’t worth the effort. (I admit that, over the years, I am more and more inclined to avoid crowds if I have a choice in the matter.) I quickly found the cowboy hats and discovered I had conflicting goals. I wanted a Stetson, but I also wanted to stay within a budget limit. The Stetson hats were so far outside that max, I had to adjust that particular goal. After mentally reassessing what I wanted and what I was willing to pay for it, I quickly found a seasonal hat that I thought fit me well.
I decided to continue my plan to get as close to Sunday’s destination, Theodore Roosevelt Nationl Park, as possible before stopping for the night. As it worked out, the Waze GPS route took me into Rapid City, close enough that I decided to go off the planned route and drive up to Crazy Horse Memorial. I’ve been there twice previously and was curious about where the creation of the gigantic memorial stood now.
I got there just before it got too dark to see, much less get any pictures. The lady working at the only entrance gate kindly let me in when I explained what I wanted from the visit. She said that the hand had been finished, but I couldn’t see it. Still, I took pictures of the area in the hope that the photo would capture it. Believer it or not, I did, indeed, discern it in the picture–the picture is below, but it will be easier to see from the larger version at singin1.com/piwigo/index.php?/category/mini-nwnp-day-1-june-2023/start-15 and comparing it to the projected finished memorial.
She mentioned that there was a light show later, but I declined in favor getting on the road. The route until I had entered the Black Hills was entirely on interstates, but I expected leaving the Black Hills and going up to North Dakota to be more challenging, nighttime driving on state and US highways.
I was right. More about this in Day Two’s post.