Today we drove through half of Minnesota and all of South Dakota. We were driving for about 9 hours and we're tired! We're staying in Rapid City tonight. It's sort of an industrial, tourist-trap of a town that exists because of its proximity to Mt. Rushmore.
This morning we started out in Minnesota and the land was very flat with a lot of farm land. We then crossed into SD and followed the corny signs to the World's Only Corn Palace, in Mitchell, SD. By corny signs, I mean that there were billboards for the Corn Palace at least 200 miles away, with slogans like "Ears to You!" In fact, I think SD takes the prize for Most Random Billboards. Here are some billboards we saw today: Corn Palace, Wall Drug (every mile for at least 400 miles before Wall Drug), Reptile Gardens, at least 2 different 1880 Cowboy Towns, Firehouse Brewpub (complete with real fire engines parked by the sign), Oasis rest stop (cows would sleep under this billboard). It really was remarkable.
So we finally got to the Corn Palace and it was ... [drum roll] ... a basketball auditorium covered on 2 sides with corn products.
Anti-climatic. But we got lunch at a nearby Perkins (which still exist out here). Then we drove on. The landscape had turned from flat into grasslands and prairie. I tried to take a photo of the omni-present herd of cows, but when they saw me coming, they ran. This photo shows the 2 look-out cows, who stared me down until their comrades had made it over the other side of the hill. They eventually fled too.
Then we got to the Badlands, which are basically these crazy rock formations in the prairie. It actually felt like we were walking on the moon or on that planet from Star Wars where Luke Skywalker lived with his aunt and uncle.
We also saw prairie dogs. They were really cute.
After the Badlands, we had to make a stop at Wall Drug, given the number of billboards we had seen. It was basically a small outdoor shopping mall with a cowboy theme to it. And it's not a drug store, by the way. It's mostly a tourist junk mall. Jim bought a t-shirt and I bought postcards (suckers!).
After that, we were pretty tired so we drove here to Rapid City and got a hotel room. Our hotel is a former motor inn, whose front was built out and a pool was added. It's OK. Our window looks out over the front desk. :)
We ate dinner at a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant. I wasn't expecting these sort of restaurants out here in the middle of nowhere, but there it was, and the food was really good.
We have benefited from the time zones. Just when we are worried that we're going to run out of time, we see a sign about passing into the next time zone, which gives us an extra hour.
Tomorrow we see Mt. Rushmore and plan on driving through Wyoming. Our hope is to get close to Yellowstone by tomorrow night, but that depends on what the roads are like in Wyoming, since we will be venturing off I-90.