Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 12: South Dakota

The Amazing Flying Atticus Phanaticus.

What's there to say about Mt. Rushmore that hasn't already been said? What picture could possibly be taken that hasn't already been taken and made into a postcard?

One with Atticus, of course.

Most people who see us toting around Atticus seem to just think that we're some weirdos with a strange green alien doll, but then there are those times, usually when we're at a big tourist destination, when someone will see us posing him and a huge grin will break over their faces. These are the traveling Philadelphians. They know what's up and it fills them with joy. Such is the power of the Phillie Phanatic.

Atticus and the Presidents.

Atticus leans on Gutzon Borglum, the creative genius behind Mt. Rushmore.

Atticus federally misbehaves.

After we'd had our fill of the presidents (as a native of Long Island, my favorite is Teddy, although I'm a little in love with Lincoln) we headed towards Wall, SD. Wall is a little town about an hour from Rapid City that is known for Wall Drug. Back in 1931 Ted Hustead and his wife Dorothy started a drug store in Wall. Business was terrible--Wall had a population of only 326 people and they were all poor--until Dorothy got the idea to put signs on the side of the road advertising free ice water. All of a sudden motorists came in droves and Wall Drug was a smashing success. Nowadays it's a tremendously schlocky tourist destination with famous signs that pop up all over the world, advertising the wonders of Wall Drug. Here is a small sampling--

So of course we had to go to Wall Drug. It was every bit as silly as we expected it to be, and more.

Wall Drug.

Our next stop was at the Badlands. For astonishing rock formations with such a scary awesome name I expected to me more frightened, but no, I'm still more unnerved by Wyoming than anything else. The Badlands seemed (in their own weird way) to be kind of friendly. Something about the sedimentary layers make them look like they were drawn by Dr. Suess. Mark took about a million billion pictures, but here's just a small sampling.

Atticus and I gaze upon the majesty of the Badlands.

Atticus salutes the Badlands with his nose-tongue.

The Badlands. Okay, maybe this part was a little spooky.

But look at these friendly formations! They looked like scoops of rainbow sherbet.

Some really weird-looking buffalo.

After we left the Badlands we were back on the open prairie.

Driving art photo.

Driving driving driving. The Great Plains are enormous. You get the idea.

We passed back into the Central Time Zone and pulled into Mitchell, SD. Mark (who planned most of our travel itinerary) picked Mitchell because it seemed like a good midpoint between Mt. Rushmore and the destination of our next book event in Rochester, MN. He also chose Mitchell because of this.

The Mitchell Corn Palace. Every year since it's formation in 1892 the people of Mitchell redecorate it with new corn murals. It also houses a basketball court.

2010 Corn Murals.

There was a hallway of photographs of all the past Corn Palace designs. PLEASE DO NOT MISTAKE THE PEOPLE OF MITCHELL FOR NAZIS. Truth be told, I like the older Corn Palace designs more than the new ones, when they focused more on adornment and less on mural art. With the exception of this one.

And then, to our great surprise, after a day of driving we were right back where we started.

Corny ending.

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