Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Miles and Miles of Miles

At Heartland RV Park, Hermosa, South Dakota...

After the challenging first day of our trek westward from Indiana, things settled down, and the next two days proved totally uneventful. We were making close to 400 miles a day, purposely doubling our usual 200-mile daily travel limit in order to hasten our journey through mostly nondescript Iowa and South Dakota. (Sorry, residents thereof; I'm sure these are wonderful places to live.)  We had never driven through either state, and we found that we hadn't missed much except maybe a billion green cornstalks that were beginning to show their tassels nicely.

On the positive side, I-90 gets the award for the smoothest and most pristeen U. S. Interstate highway we have traveled. I suppose its need for repair is low because of the paucity of traffic that uses it. Here is a photo of I-90 in South Dakota taken through Phannie's windshield:




I can't remember the last time I saw an interstate highway with so little traffic on it.

Owing to the unchanging flat topography around us, these long driving legs would have proved incredibly boring, had it not been for our heaven-sent Sirius XM radio. Fortunately, I rarely get tired when driving Phannie. The big bus just floats along, silent except for a little wind noise. (The rear engine can be heard only faintly from the cockpit.) The plush captain's chairs provide plenty of legroom, allowing a seated posture much like an easy chair in one's den. There is none of the torture of sitting with my long legs stretched out horizontally in front of me. With all the creature comforts accessible, like a bathroom, fridge and unlimited snacks, I can drive some pretty long legs in Phannie without very much physical impact at all.

We arrived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with enough daylight left to do a little exploring, so we checked out the falls on the Big Sioux river, from which the city of Sioux Falls, of course, gets his name. It was a very pretty location where the falls looked great flowing over the pink quartzsite:



As we neared Rapid City on I-90, we began to see more and more signs advertising Wall Drug, a place I had heard of for decades but never visited. I knew I would likely not get another chance to see what is the big deal, so we exited I-90 and drove the few blocks into downtown Wall, a rather small little burg bustling with hordes of tourists. There was ample parking available, even for Phannie and Mae; so, after parking, we strode over to Main Street and stared at the block-long complex that is Wall Drug:



I'm not sure what we were expecting, but it wasn't exactly this. The original drugstore has obviously expanded and taken in several other stores beside it, having now grown to a monstrous 76,000- square-foot, western-themed, mall-like affair, selling everything imaginable that might appeal to a tourist. There are also restaurants and a soda fountain and, oh yes, a pharmacy. The place was packed with people, so we went out back to the kids' area, where I snapped this pic of Sandy in a mid-1800s version, I guess, of Phannie:



We didn't buy anything at Wall drug, but at least we can say we have been there. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the place is the history of how it came to be:

In 1931, a pharmacist named Ted Hustead bought the drugstore and tried to make a living from it in Wall, a tiny town of 231 people in South Dakota. Things weren't going all that well until his wife came up with the idea of giving free ice water to travelers heading down the nearby highway toward Mt. Rushmore. This freebie proved to be a hit with thirsty travelers, and Hustead began advertising heavily on billboards in South Dakota and surrounding states hundreds of miles distant. Due to its almost cultish following, some visitors have taken it upon themselves to erect signs in many different parts of the world displaying the mileage to Wall Drug. 

The drugstore, huge as it is today, is still a single business entity, and they still give free ice water and sell coffee for five cents a cup. It is one of the largest tourist attractions in the northern U. S., hosting some two million visitors a year from many different nations. 

I'm not sure why.

After our brief stop at Wall Drug, we quickly covered the 71 miles to the Heartland RV Park, our destination near Rapid City, where we met up with Bobbie Jo and John, RVing pals from Texas. More adventures to follow!



Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.



I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it. --Alexander Sattler

17 comments:

  1. Wall Drug... you mean to tell me you missed the Fudge????????? Had I knew you were stopping, I would have given you the secret pathway to the best Fudge in South Dakota.... But, now that you are in my stomping grounds.... should you go south of Rapid to the Hot Springs do take in the oldest VA Medical facility and tour it. Oh, and be sure to dip your feet into a natural Hot Springs there too.... Deadwood will bring you lighter pockets as the Casino's are trained well. The Days of '76 is pretty cool to check out, its in Deadwood too. Don't forget to check out Sturgis too. That little town should be in full swing of setting up and getting ready for the Bikers.... Hardee's Hot and Cheese with "their" so called BBQ sauce for lunch isn't bad. It's downtown with the President's statues on the corners in Rapid..... And by all means, go check out the courthouse. That is pretty cool to be still in working condition. Then of course a must stop is Landstrom's Black Hills Gold.. it's a place and store that Sandy would find some pretty jewelry. Enjoy your stay... and have fun... look forward to reading about your finds.

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    1. Well, shoot! I love fudge, and I'm sorry I missed it at Wall Drug. Unfortunately, we won't have enough time here to take in all your suggestions, but I really appreciate them. We spent our spare time driving highway 87 through the Needles and checking out Keystone. Maybe next time!

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  2. You sure made some good progress, but are getting where you want to go. Nice that you did actually stop at Wall drug. Just because you could. Keep having fun.

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    1. Hi, George! Yep, we were trying to get through the plains quickly; it was unusually hot going through there, and that's not what we had in mind when we left Texas!

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  3. I can't believe you've never stopped at Wall Drug.

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  4. Mike make sure you take a ride on Needles Hwy (HWY 87)! Do not take Phannie! Also check out Iron Mountain Road Hwy 16A it has the "Pigtail" Bridges on it. Oh and have to go to Custer State Park loop. Oh and one more cool road is Spearfish Canyon Byway! Have fun and drive safe.

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    1. We did do highway 87! Very unusual and scenic. And yes, had we taken Phannie, I'm afraid she would still be there, stuck in one of the tunnels. We really didn't allow enough time here but next time, we will certainly take your suggestions. I appreciate them very much!

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  5. Their water may be free but it tastes terrible. Good thing they don't charge for it! ;c)

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    1. I'll take your word for it. We didn't try any of it, and it's a good thing we didn't, apparently. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. Wall Drug is a been there done that kind of stop.

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    1. I couldn't agree more, Sandie. The staying power of that place is utterly amazing.

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  7. Hey Mike and Sandy! We probably passed each other on I-90! I was in Wall at the end of last week. I enjoyed a 5c cup of coffee and then enjoyed moving on from the tourist trap. Now I'm set up in the Airstream at Camp Scholler at EAA Airventure for the next week or so before I hook a right and head back to Dallas.

    Enjoy reading your blog! Hope we cross paths soon. - John

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    1. Hey, John! I didn't know you were into RVing; wish we had seen you! Holler if you find us somewhere near where you are; we'd love to chew the rag.

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  9. Hi Mike, been there, done that and yes quite the place. We managed to walk thru most of it and even spent a little money while there. Did you detour from I 90 and drive thru the Bad Lands of South Dakota, it is a picturesque drive. About half way thru there is an RV Park, don't know what it is like, I just remember seeing it as we drove by on our way thru.

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    1. We didn't do the Badlands drive, Bill, and I guess we should have. It would probably attract more visitors if it were named something else. Ha!

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    2. Good one Mike!Perhaps another time. The day we drove thru them, it was a drizzly rainy day. We did manage to get out at a few pull offs and take in the view but would like to back when better weather will allow for a breath taking experience.

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