Wall Drug leads to Badlands


Yesterday we enjoyed another sunny day.  Our one major stop, before stopping for the night, was at the Battle of Little Bighorn historical site. We only saw a portion of it because we had only three hours before it closed! Yup, we spent most of the three hours there anyway. It was pretty interesting. A ranger gave a half-hour talk about the battle, in a very engaging way, the kind that makes you want to listen, and wish that your high school teachers had been this interesting.  I might remember more of Canadian history details. Anyway, we did get a good lesson in American history, and to my surprise, he acknowledged that the Natives were treated badly and portrayed incorrectly in the past. I was also interested to see that one of the names displayed on the monument to the US Calvary who died there, was Yates, my mother’s maiden name.  Could he have any relation to my great-grandfather, who seems to have moved to the US?  Wouldn’t that be interesting.

It was nearly 6:00 when we left there, and an hour later before we decided to stop in Sheridan Wyoming for the night, at the KOA. It’s hard to believe that when we were in the area last we were enjoying the outdoor pools and hot tubs. Now they are all closed up and most of the camp sites are empty.

Today we drove out of Wyoming shortly after noon, and once we reached Buffalo South Dakota, we began to retrace our path towards home, with a planned side-trip to Wall and through the Badlands. We had to take a stroll through downtown Sturgis to see what it looked like without all the bikes.  We hardly recognized it! It seemed strange to see only a handful of bikes along the highways in the area too. Even the traffic lights at the highway entrance and exit ramps to Sturgis have been removed.  There is no need for them now.  There’s hardly any traffic.

Long before we reached Sturgis we began to see colourful signs advertising Wall Drug. After Sturgis, they became more and more frequent: Free Ice Water at Wall Drug; Western Wear at Wall Drug; Have you Dug Wall Drug?; Wall Drug ,Exit 109. Finally we reached the exit.  What is Wall Drug, you might ask? Well, it’s a Drug Store in the town of Wall, South Dakota, just at the entrance to the Badlands. It began in 1931 as a struggling enterprise. Today, because of a very clever marketing scheme, offering free ice water to hot, weary travellers along the highway, and posting signs to advertise it, it has expanded into the now famous Western-style conglomerate of many shops, cafes and museums. It still gives away ice water, an estimated 5,000 glasses every day during the summer. If you’re travelling along I-90 anywhere within 200 miles of Wall, you’re sure to see the signs that will lead you in. Wall Drug

Tonight we’re in a campground just a block away from Wall, joining many other RVers who probably, like us, chose to wait until tomorrow before starting the journey through the badlands.

We are half-way home.

How Many Geeks Does it Take?


Day 7 (Tues)
After discovering that the device for getting onto the internet, which we bought the night before, just wasn’t going to work, we headed back into Rapid City with computer packed into the saddle bag, expecting to get help quickly from the computer geeks at Best Buy. The first geek couldn’t do it so he called the sales associate from the mobile phone department. He could do it through the phone help line, if only he could get through to them. He was on hold for twenty minutes, when another geek, the head of the department suggested that a different device would work better for our needs and could be installed very quickly by her. It was more money, but we decided it would be worth it if it was going to work. So, we made the exchange. That wasn’t a simple process. A monthly invoicing system had to be set up because, unlike the previous device, a one month prepaid card couldn’t be purchased. Our having a Canadian address made that process complicated. It took about an hour just to set up the account. Then, it was back to the geek desk. A half hour later, the geek was still trying to get this device to work. In the meantime, the head of the mobile phone department came in (he’d sold us the original device) and he tried to help with first the account set-up and then the device set up. We left for lunch. When we got back, the head geek had left for the day, leaving the problem with yet another geek. Another half hour passed before it was finally discovered by the mobile phone fellow, that the battery hadn’t been installed in the device! We thought that was the quick fix, but no, it still wouldn’t work on our computer, but it did work on theirs. So, after wasting four hours of our day, we left with computer and device once again stashed in the saddle bag. Jim decided he’d like to take a back route home, and it was a lovely ride, until we ran out of gas! Fortunately a kind lady who lived nearby went home to get us enough to get us to Sturgis and a gas station. Once we were finally back in the RV Jim went to work on the computers and internet device and he got them both working. At least the day ended better.

At last, Sturgis!


Days five and six
On Sunday we took our time getting ready to leave the campground. I did some laundry; Jim repaired a window screen that had become loose, and I finished blog and Facebook postings. While I sat outside completing these tasks, I watched streams of motorcycles speeding past on the I-90. By 10:30 we had joined them, but the bikes ruled the road. With a couple of stops along the way to refresh, we arrived at our campsite around 4:00 pm. The day was another very hot one reaching temperatures in the upper nineties. Our poor old motor home began to protest when we stopped to register. She didn’t want to start again. But we managed to slowly move her to our campsite and backed into place. We did our nesting; electric hooked up, table and chairs out, awnings pulled to provide some shade. We started a list of things we should purchase the next chance we got, like a sewer connector, a new door blind and stamps to mail cards. After a frustrating evening of trying to get and stay connected to WiFi, an internet stick was added to the list. Hence the reason no news got posted that day.
Today (Monday) we took the bike into Sturgis, list in hand. Lots of luck! There were lots of interesting sites and lots of pictures to take. Beer could be bought at nearly every corner; if you wanted a souvenir t-shirt or cap or any biking paraphernalia, you had hundreds of shops to choose from. But nowhere in sight was there a computer or mobile phone store, or a grocery store. Our list had to be discarded for the time being. We just parked the bike and enjoyed the show. The streets were line with bikes of every shape, size and description that you could imagine. Granted the majority seem to be Harleys. At least the loud pipes on our Virago blended right in.
There were bikes customized to look like cars; there was a bike that looked like our Venture, but it pulled a coffin for a trailer, painted to match the bike. The licence plate read “X-wife”.
The people riding the bikes and walking on the streets were just as varied. Jim especially enjoyed photographing the buxom women who equally enjoyed flaunting what they had. It seems that pasties are the only top covering required in this state. We saw people dressed in caveman/warrior garb, women in bikinis, old people, young people, an extremely tall woman, probably seven feet.
We stood in the crowd for the daily group photo. If you look really closely you can recognize Jim’s hat in the crowd.  Well worth the $10 we paid for a copy. We poked through several of the shops, had pulled pork for lunch and ice cream cones for dessert. We visited the Knuckle Saloon for a cold drink and a listen to some excellent guitar picking and songs by Rogan Brothers Band. By 4:30 the sun and the walking had done us in so we found our bike and decided to look once more for the Post Office. By the time we did, it had closed and there seemed to be nowhere else to buy those stamps. Some suggested we might try the grocery store and told us where to find it, but it would mean another slow ride through town. We came back to camp.
But the desire to get internet connection to complete some business and post our updates led us to get on the bike again and head sixty miles east to Rapid City. There we found the internet stick we were looking for and an Ihop where we finally had some dinner. It was nine o’clock by the time we finished eating, time to return to camp. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll get that list taken care of. Tonight we’re still struggling with internet while enjoying some live music coming from the beer tent.