Today was the day to see Badlands National Park. We had wanted to see the park the last time we were in the Black Hills, but had missed it. This time, there was no stopping us.
I kinda miss having breakfast in my pjs. This whole getting up, showered, and presentable to eat breakfast thing is old already.
What kind of breakfast do you like? We're toast people. Once we had a hotel that didn't have toast, and you'd think that they were forcing us to sleep on the floor in a closet, Hubs was so angry. He even considered buying his own toaster so we could make it in our room.
Howard Johnson Rapid City has toast so we we're safe.
A huge TV is in the corner blaring everything Michael Jackson. MJ's possibly been murdered. MJ's kids and the custody battle. Neverland Ranch. MJ's drug addiction. MJ's doctor. MJ's dermatologist. MJ's brother/sister/aunt/uncle/parents/ex-wife/etc.....
It's all the news we have heard so far the entire trip. Michael Jackson all day, all the time.
"Don't they have anything ELSE to talk about?" Jake contemplates the TV. "I mean, like, isn't there a war or something they need to cover? Who ELSE is left to talk to?"
As we drive to the Badlands, I begin noticing signs.
"Ice Cold Water...FREE at Wall Drug."
They are everywhere. Way far back from the road, on hills, beside the road, peeking out from trees. It becomes a game-who can find the next Wall Drug sign?
"Coffee, Cinnamon Buns, WALL DRUG!"
After about 30 minutes of sign after sign, we began to wonder. Should we check it out? Is it worth it? Almost like the media's coverage of Micheal Jackson, it's like if they wear you down enough you'd give in. Jake was already bouncing around in the back seat.
"Can we? Can we stop? Please? It looks like fun and I want to see it and the cinnamon buns sound good and you can have a coffee and it was on TV and...."
"Ya I was thinking it might make a good place to stop for lunch," Hubs turned to go to the Badlands.
We made it to the Badlands, and drove around.
The blazing sun made it clear that we were not going to stay outside for long, because it was amazingly hot, and we weren't acclimatized yet. So that also meant no hiking, because we'd probably go for 10 minutes and then die of thirst and/or heat stroke right there in the middle of the trail.
Ya, it was HOT. We drove through the park, looked in the Visitor's center, checked out the overlooks in some places and marveled at the geology of the place. Hubs and Jake got all scientific and were discussing how they formed, the geologic structure something or other, but I was more interested in taking pictures. See? Ooo! Pretty colors!
Eventually we got hungry, and decided to check out...you guessed it...WALL DRUG!
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Wall Drug is actually a store in Wall, South Dakota. The town itself, from what I saw, is really small. Wall Drug actually takes up one block of town and I'm guessing is their biggest tourist attraction because oh my lord, that place was packed to the rafters with tourists. Packed. As in, whole buses of people were there.
We weren't sure what to expect. Surely it's just a store, with maybe a cafe, but what else would be in there?
What we found was just about everything fun and cheesy and touristy, packed into one city block. We wandered through this monstrosity of a store, marveling at the beautifully made cowboy hats and boots, to the Mexican ponchos and the ice cream shop, the typical touristy items, to the roaring dinosaur and the candy shop. At every turn there was something that made us laugh.
The one thing that caught our eye, that we absolutely couldn't resist, was the candy shop. Who can resist salt water taffy?
We spent about an hour there, but you could easily spend more time. If you have little kids you could make a day of it, even because they have a little outdoor water park, playground, and picnic tables. Instead we made our way back to Rapid City and did a little shopping before deciding to try out IHOP for dinner.
Except, here's the thing. We have a serious problem ordering food in USA restaurants.
Every single time, at least ONE of us ends up with a meal that is ENORMOUS. Not just the large, probably your entire calorie intake for the day big, but gigantic, able to feed a family of four big. I'm not sure why or how that happens. Maybe the kitchen staff see us coming and decide to play with our minds and scare us with a meal that is large enough to feed an elephant. Whatever it is, I have resorted to even ordering off of senior's menus just to get something that is small enough that I can actually EAT.
This time, I order a short stack of buttermilk pancakes, and it is, in a word, perfect. Three little fluffy pancakes, lots of gooey blueberry syrup, a dollop of whipped topping. Yum!
The waitress sets down Hub's pancakes and his eyes almost fall out right then and there.
"Um, are you SURE this is mine?"
Hubs; the guy who is "I'm not hungry" or "I just want something light" all the time suddenly has this enormous plate of five pancakes, each about the size of a mouse pad, towering in front of him.
Go ahead. Look at your mouse pad. Think for a sec. Ya. Oh my GOD.
For the record, Jake ordered the same thing. As we have come to realize this summer though, Jake has morphed into a "I'm always hungry and can eat ridiculous amounts of food" teenager, so it wasn't that big of a shock for him. He just digs right in and plows through whatever you set in front of him, and then announces he's hungry again 30 minutes later.
Tourist Tip #4: If you order pancakes at IHOP and you don't eat a lot, get the short stack of buttermilk pancakes.
There was a lot of leftover food that day.
Coming up: We go on the hunt for treasure!