The license plate game is not a big hit. In fact, on the three-hour, flat stretch of drive from Sioux Falls to Wall, SD, the kids absolutely refused to record the New York, Washington, and Mississippi plates we saw. We’re in a power struggle. Old fashioned road trip games versus the I-pad. Who do you think is gonna win??
First official tourist stop of the trip: Wall Drug. I had built this up because I figured it would be the highlight of Eli’s trip. He walked out of there with a neon orange baseball cap with an appliqué mule deer on the side. I wasn’t disappointed. (Tyler was a little alarmed.) Good news: we will be able to spot him when he runs away later because he is so fed up.
Stites thoroughly enjoyed the courtyard area with photo-ops galore (riding a bucking bronco, at the reigns of a Pony Express covered wagon, on a jackalope). But it was hot. Good thing Wall Drug is known for its free ice water. We took them up on it and filled 5 water bottles and a jug as we prepared to embark down the road to the Badlands.
The Badlands National Park…the raison d’être for this trip. At 103 degrees, I was a little concerned the car would overheat and we’d be stuck with a long walk back to the “civilization” of Wall.
As we drove through the National Grasslands on Sage Rim Road we looked behind us and saw a thunderstorm rolling in…and were delighted with the breeze that accompanied it. We spied prairie dogs darting in and out of their holes and chirping to each other. Stites tracked them for a bit, but he wasn’t armed with the rifles he had been toting at Wall Drug, so I figured they were mostly safe.
The next two hours brought bison, mountain goats, antelope, more prairie dogs, spontaneous climbs, and stunning panoramic views of the badlands. It’s wild…on one side of the car there are flat grasslands and on the other are these multi-colored, striated, crumbling dirt/rock formations. We couldn’t go more than a mile without hopping out of the car for another round of pictures.
Which is what led to the hinge of my door being ripped off. I opened the driver-side door and the strong winds – which had moments earlier inspired us to yell to the kids who were balancing on a rocky precipice, “Come back. NOW!” – caught the door and extended it beyond its intended capacity. I was only alarmed for a moment when the door wouldn’t shut. I just slammed it and prepared myself for entering the car Dukes of Hazard-style for the remainder of the trip. It was fortunate that it closed, because that’s when the rain caught up to us.
We reluctantly left the Badlands and headed to Rapid City for dinner and a night at the only hotel we could find with a vacancy…which is a bit more of a challenge at 9:30 at night. Super 8. After squashing a bug and applying three coats of purple glitter nail polish to Harcourt’s right hand, I fell fast asleep.