Kitsch and Corn

Trip Start Jul 08, 2010
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Trip End Jul 27, 2010


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Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Got up early this morning and hiked on the Notch Trail.  It wasn't too hot yet and the trail was well marked.  We saw some great scenery and a mother deer with her baby...a great way to start the morning!  Got packed up and headed out on the Badlands Loop Road toward Wall, SD.  The loop is about 18 miles and offers many spectacular vistas with boardwals along the way.  The Badlands truly are an area of stark and desolate beauty.  If you're ever in this area, it really is worth your while to check it out.

After the drive, we arrived in Wall and proceeded to the well known tourist destination (trap) of Wall Drug.  It was originally a simple drug sore that was bought by the Hustead family in the 1930s, but business was bad and they were on the verge of bankruptcy when Mrs Hustead had a life changing vision.  Travel at that time was dry, hot, and dusty and she thought that they could attract business by offering free ice water to passing motorists.  They made many roadside signs and sure enough, business began improving.  They sold everything from sundries to souvenirs, and kept adding items that tourists and travellers would want.  As time went on, the store grew larger and became a destination in itself.

I had fond memories of Wall Drug as a child 30 years ago.  I can remember watching the highway signs from hundreds of miles away, and feeling the anticipation as we got closer.  Once we got there, I can remember being in awe at all of the different shops, shows, and merchandise.  There were shooting galleries, coin-operated attractions, and a scary animatronic T-Rex in the back.  It was magical, and I was looking forward to seeing it again on this trip.  Unfortunately, time has a way of changing things.  What was once magical and exciting has become kitschsky and dull.  The store still has all of the old attractions, but they seem run down and old.  The entire place has become commercialized and slick, although they still offer free ice water and nickel coffee!  The store now occupies an entire block, and has become a victim of its own success.  Don't get me wrong...young children will be in sensory overload here, but it's just not the same for me as an adult.  Don't forget to see the updated T-Rex in back...it's still fun and scary!

After Wall Drug, we continued east on I-90 toward Sioux Falls.  I had read about the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, and thought it would be fun to see what it was, so we stopped there today.  The Corn Palace is located right downtown and easy to find.  At first glance, it is a gaudy facsimile of a Russian palace, complete with onion domes and multiple colors.  When one gets closer, however, the true magic becomes clear.  the building is decorated with countless ears of corn, as well as stalks and grass.  The palace theme changes every year, and must be redecorated annually.  Everyone was quite proud of their attraction, and were universally friendly and helpful.  I felt like I was in a Capra movie!  There was music being played from speakers on the palace and sidewalks, everyone was smiling, young teens were helping to decorate the building, and it was a beautiful sunny day.  Was it hoakey?  Absolutely.  But it was also heartwarming and wholesome, and I'm glad that we stopped.

We got to Sioux Falls at a decent hour, and have just been relaxing since then.  So far this trip has been a good bonding experience, and the drive has not been bad at all.  I hope you have enjoyed reading about our trip, and I will continue to update things as able.  More later...
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