We’re headed out of keystone and towards the famous Wall Drug store. Not entirely sure what to expect, we’re heading in following the signs, which literally appearing every hundred feet or so. Apparently this store is the only thing keeping the town of Wall on the map. We’re almost there as I’m writing this, I’ll post an update diagraming the store in just a little bit. More updates to come.
The Wall Drug store isn’t really a store. It’s a small town. Upon entering you’re immediately assailed with all manner of merchandise. There are literally streets and alleys winding through the store, with smaller stores shooting off about every 20 feet. Everything from books to bobble heads to fossils is available for purchase, I even saw a stand of “dinosaur poop”. Giant jackalope, taxidermied Bison, carved statues of plains folk, it’s as big a spectacle as Vegas, but with a decidedly western vibe to it. Definitely worth a visit. After wandering through about 20 stores, we hit the road and traveled the the minute man national historic site, and got to see an actual delta 9 minute man missile. Decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, these facilities ran on high alert for decades, ready to not-so-surgically remove Cuba from the face of the earth. The Great Plains hold almost all of our missile defense silos, and are an incredibly popular attraction for people passing through. Tickets for the tour of the facility are available at 8 in the morning, and are gone by 8:05. People apparently camp out for hours to get a ticket, and we unfortunately came far too late to the party. Still, if you manage to score some tickets, you will be shown around one of the few remaining facilities with active, albeit decommissioned, warheads. They science behind them is truly genius, using a technology known as a space launch, the missiles are blasted into the upper atmosphere, where they sit and let the earth spin beneath them until they are above their target, at which point they fall along a set trajectory to the point of impact. This minimizes fuel consumption, and allows for global strikes within a matter of minutes. Honestly I think all air travel should adopt this technology, dive bombing tourists into Paris would be quite the sight. Barf bags required.
We’re about an hour out of Sioux Falls, give or take 15 minutes. Allow me to describe our current surroundings. The horizon is a pale gray, a sort of ring of clouds, poised confidently around the edges of the land. As you go further down along the road, the clouds seem to loom up in front of you, dark enough on the bottom as to insinuate rain, but light enough at the tops to make you think twice. Look left, look right, grass. The occasional tree, billboard, or grain silo interrupts the otherwise consistent mat of green. Trailers carrying massive oversized farm equipment blast along the opposing lanes as if their cargo was crucial to some life or death matter. You go over a hill and the clouds have changed to a thin meandering film of vapor, twisting gently in patches across the sky. The general state of disregard and disprepair perpetuated along the highway is quite evident, making its presence known in the form of broken billboards, dilapidated farms, and the remnants of a Waffle House. Rolls of hay are your most constant companion, the only indication of any sort of civilzed life. A sun washed sign tells you of the many lodging opportunities cropping up as you close in on the city, all of them proudly advertising “indoor pool!”, a clear indicator of your progress back into ‘winter’ territory. More updates to come.