Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another brick in the Wall...Wall, South Dakota that is

Day 21. Rapid City to Wall South Dakota. Today broke warm and windy in Rapid City. Rapid City, as we found out when we left this morning, is a cute little Western city close in size to a Peterborough. It's a shame we don't get a chance to see more of the places we are travelling through. They're really interesting slices of America (most of them). By interesting, I mean interesting-good, and in one or two places, interesting-not-so-good.

We started our ride into a bit of a headwind today. Given that the ride distance wasn't very long (only 90kms) compared to previous days, this wasn't a hard day at all. This part of South Dakota is really beautiful. Vistas that stretch to the horizon and stir your imagination back 150 years to picture what the settlers saw when they came here. Apparently my references to Dances With Wolves were not in vain. I learned yesterday that portions of the frontier opening sequence when Lt. Dunbar (Costner) heads out to the fort were shot around Wall South Dakota where I sit writing this today.

I am surprised that I find this prairie landscape so beautiful. It rolls, but now that we've left the Black Hills behind us, it isn't in any way mountainous. By the way, not only are the Black Hills behind us, but the Rockies, Tetons, Cascades, and Bittertooths are too. I can not believe how far we have ridden our bikes in 3 weeks. South Dakota has amazing river valleys and sweeping plains that can really set your imagination afire. You can just visualize vast herds of buffalo stampeding across these grassy hills and valleys not that long ago. As you can see, South Dakota is home to endless straight roads that seem to go on forever. The ride today was uneventful. We did ride close to 20 miles on I-90 though (that's like going from Bayview and the 401 to Ajax on the 401). The thought of doing that much mileage on a major interstate would have freaked me out 2 weeks ago. Now it's just another part of the ride. No biggie. Given the low traffic and the views, it is actually enjoyable. Here are two videos of my ride on I-90 and the scenery today:

So the ride ended up in Wall South Dakota, a town made famous by Wall Drug Store. Talk about a classic lesson in marketing. About 100 years ago, the family that opened Wall Drug decided to offer travelers free ice water if they came into the store. They advertised this all over the countryside (the signs are still omnipresent today). Ice water was pretty precious a hundred years ago and business boomed. So, more signs went up and Wall Drug signs dotted every part of the Middle American landscape. We walked over to take a look at this classic bit of Americana (as you can see by the pictures above).

Well, to call it a tourist trap does the term "tourist trap" a disservice. It's more of a" tourist black hole" – no tourist can escape it's power. However, it's all in good fun. Lots (tons actually) of tschokches, very good home made ice cream, a delicious cookie, some useful stuff like you'd find in a drug store, and 4 t-shirts. I'm kidding. There were like 4 million t-shirts. We went through the back and walked into a picture gallery that chronichles the history of the area and Wall Drug. That was actually interesting. Quite interesting in fact. We walked back to the hotel in the near 100F heat and are going to dinner shortly. Here is the wikipedia link to Wall Drug, a true slice of Middle America:

This motel is fine. It's relatively clean, had a hot shower and the internet is OK. However, it has the goofiest TV remote and clock radio I have ever seen in my life (check out the pictures). These are not jokes. They are for real. I shot them with my hands in the picture so you can get a sense for how ridiculously big they are. I feel like this room should be called "The Hagrid Suite" after the giant in the Harry Potter books.

We have a huge day tomorrow – 195 kms to South Dakota state capital Pierre, and it looks like the winds will not be in our favor. The temperatures are beginning to soar as we get into the main part of the prairies, and the roads and fields are covered (covered!) in grasshoppers. Wish me luck tomorrow. We'll be on the road by 6AM and I hope we get to the hotel in Pierre before 3PM.

FYI – the DQ Blizzard count is static as I write this at 4:30PM local time, but it may increase by 6:30PM (I'll keep you posted):

4 Snickers (including 1 King size Almond)
7 Blizzards
4 milk shakes

Now on to today's mail:

Jeff from Toronto writes: "I love reading about your adventure and will be motivated in spin class about how easy it is compared to what you are doing. Pictures are spectacular. Sounding great every minute. However, with all this bonding talk and mention of wild horses, you are beginning to conjure up images of Billy Crystal in City Slickers!" We did actually have a "City Slickers" moment when Connecticut Jeff tried to explain to me how my new Garmin bike computer works. Good luck with spinning. Tell Dana that I should have come to more classes.

Jess from New Jersey writes: "When Susan told me that Adam was a cute little boy, I believed her, but I had never actually seen a baby picture before. He is absolutely adorable (and still is...) Please bring more to family weekend at colgate!! I've gotten all the updates on your ride from Adam, and hope that the rest of it goes just as well!" My boy was (is?) adorable, wasn't he? Awwwwww...

Here are my Garmin stats for today:

This is Joe's blog:


Trip journal and photos by our tour leader Mike Munk:


This link is Jeff's blog:


This link is Baltimore Mark's blog:


And this is Katie's blog:

1 comment:

  1. Gee Mark, you seem really into that babe in the blue hat! Good thing there's a drug store nearby.