The long slog across South Dakota is basically over. Today we are in pure tourist mode. We spent the night just south of Badlands National Park. We started the day with a "cowboy breakfast" in the campground. That consisted of sausages and pancakes made with "a sourdough starter that is over 100 years old and was actually used on a wagon trail in pioneer days," or so the menu said.
The badlands are an area of layers of sandstone that have been eroded into fantastic shapes. Basically the stone is washed into three rivers that eventually empty into the Missouri River, so they consist of an area washed down from the surrounding plateau into a large valley.
The Badlands Loop is a road that runs along the north edge, called The Wall (Wall, SD, is named for this Wall, not Wall Drug which it seems like). The road runs along the valley for a while, then up to the rim, with occasional forays back down. There are numerous overlooks where you can stop and sometimes take a trail up into the formations.
The rock looks soft, like a sand castle. But don't be fooled, it is plenty hard enough. You wouldn't want to fall down on it.
For most of the trip across South Dakota we were seeing many signs for Wall Drug. Jean said that there were more signs for Wall Drug than for See Ruby Falls (in the South). So naturally, when we left the Badlands we had to go see what Wall Drug was all about. The story is that when the drugstore was first opened, there was very little business (Wall is a small town) but lots of traffic on the highway, so the owner got the idea of advertising "Free Ice Water at Wall Drug" on the highway. That beginning has grown into a tourist trap mall that covers almost a square block. There is everything you can think of inside, arranged in small shops off a number of alleyways. Gene needed to get a prescription refilled, and sure enough, they could do it at Wall Drug which still operates a pharmacy.
To make our visits in the area more interesting, we were in the middle of Sturgis Motorcycle Week. Obviously not all the motorcycles were in neighboring Sturgis. Everywhere you looked there were motorcycles --- thousands of them. Motorcycles of every possible configuration. It seemed like they were all Harleys but we were informed that there was a good representation of Honda Gold Wings. For the rest of the day we were surrounded by motorcycles, either parked as far as the eye could see or running down the road in long strings like ants.
From there we drove to the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore. It was easy to find, just follow the river of motorcycles. Mt. Rushmore is what it is. Everyone is familiar with the classic picture of the mountain, which is just about the only one you can get. There is quite a bit to do there, but we didn't want to leave YumYum in the motorhome for very long (it is still hot during the day), so we took the obligatory picture, had a buffalo cheese burger, and left again.
We got a couple more just for good measure, including a profile on the way out.
Then it was on to Newcastle, Wyoming, and a campground cum motel where we could catch up on a few chores, like dumping tanks and doing laundry. It isn't all fun and games, you know.