Today our plans have changed from get up and going by 6:30 am to get up and park ourselves at the tire shop at 7am. They open at 7:30 so we want to be there early and waiting to see if they can possibly help us. Luckily the shop is only a few miles away.
We arrive and the guys are there getting ready to open. Scott is able to talk to one guy who said he thinks they may have the tires but he just needs to finish checking in their order they had just received and then he would help us. He also said he could get us in right away if they did have the correct tires. Whew, that is good to hear. We have about 5 hours of driving ahead of us until we make it to the Badlands. We are hoping to get to the visitors center by 1pm and then possibly go on a few of the little trails that they have. The drive through the park takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours if you just drive and see and maybe pull off a few times at the vista points.
When the shop was open and ready the guy said they only had these all terrain tires left…not the highway kind we needed. Hmmm. Darn. There is another place down the street….He said he would check one more time since there was another order that had come in that was coming off the truck right now.
Praise the Lord, they had two of the tires we needed. Two and only two. We felt that God was answering prayers. Scott had been wondering if we should do all tires (there are 6 total) or just the two on the side with the problem. The guy said that our tread wasn’t bad and the rest of the tires are good. Thank you God for that direction and for the fact that we were told that the rest are going to be fine. We walked to McDonalds for a cheap cup of coffee then headed back to wait for them to finish up. Great people at that tire shop. Really helpful and worked hard to get us up and going. We were back on the road by 8:30am! We really felt God had protected us. We had considered going further the day before but decided to stop in North Platte instead of drive further to Valentine. Once we were on that road to Valentine I realized that if our tire would have blown we were on a road with nothing for miles and miles and there was no cell phone signal. I don’t know what we would have done. We feel very thankful!
The rest of the morning was spent driving and driving and driving. Long, straight roads that were lined with corn fields and then just rolling green hills with a few trees here and there. Nebraska is a bit different than I expected for the landscape. It really is lovely…just nothing out here.
As we came closer to Badlands the rain drops began to fall. The forecast called for rain and thunder showers around 2pm. It was 1pm and the showers were early 😦 The temperature had dropped to 64 degrees (coldest temperature we’ve experienced since day four on our trip) and the showers were turning into rain. We made lunch in the RV in the visitors center parking lot then headed in. There were some neat exhibits about the area, the fossils found and some of the ancient creatures that used to call the Badlands home. We then watched the movie that they had to offer. We have see a lot of movies at all the visitor centers that we have been to through the years. I have noticed that there seems to be no pattern or regulation on what the video is or what it covers. This one was one of the worst videos we have ever seen. It was so boring that both Scott and Ben fell asleep! It talked about the animals that are there now, the people who had been there and the homesteaders that tried to make their place there and then it was all this music and bad poetry with pictures of wheat and rocks and various animals. No explanation on how they think the area was formed. No explanation of why the hills are striped with reds and tan and brown. No explanation about anything that was really interesting. There was one really cheesy line about “wearing the sun on your eye balls” The girls and I started to laugh so hard…tried to keep it quiet but really…how weird!
By now it was really raining and we decided to just do the drive through the park with some pull offs. The landscape was gorgeous! So many hills that were striped with color and plateau that were in the midst of those peaks and covered with bright green grass. Once side of the road would be these peaks and the other side a grassy plain with rolling hills. Wow! Really glad we were able to see it. We pulled off at the overlooks and the dirt there is like clay. It was a mess to walk in so that really made us sure we were not going to be going on any trail. It was so sticky and slick.
Some big horn sheep were grazing by the road and we spotted some more in a field. We did not see any bison which we were disappointed about.
After our drive thru the park we found our RV park in Wall, South Dakota. Wall is a town that is basically a big drug store. It is not named after the original drug store owner but because it is built on the wall of the Badlands. We stopped through there on our big trip back east a few years ago. It is quite a site to see. On your way to Wall you pass HUNDREDS of signs for what you can find at the famous Wall Drugstore. Free ice water, 5 cent cup of coffee, trinkets, clothing, you name it and you can find it there. We just had to stop last time so we thought it would be fun to go back.
The RV park was a short walk over to the main strip of town. …which is basically the drug store. The drugstore that exists now (a full block of connected stores) is not the original store. The original store doesn’t actually exist anymore. The little handout that they had about Wall drug explained that the owner and his wife and child moved to Wall in 1931. They were committed to the community and committed t making their business succeed. They continued to have little business and figured they would give their store a 5 year time frame. If they didn’t get more business by the end of 5 years they would take that as a sign that Wall was not where they were to be. Funny how they were looking for a sign when a sign is exactly how their business took off. One day his wife went to take a nap with their two children and she came back down to the store shortly after that with an idea. She had said that the traffic off the freeway was so strong that the house nearly shook, the summer was hot and all these travelers just zoom by Wall, South Dakota on their way to Yellowstone park and other destinations. She pointed out that all these travelers just drove across the hot prairie land and must be needing a drink. She suggested he make signs that they have free ice water at Wall drug. He felt silly making the signs and putting them along the freeway the next weekend. By the time he returned to the drug store his wife was running around getting ice water for people. They were never slow at Wall Drug after that and today they still have free ice water and estimate that they hand out over 5,000 a day during the summer months! Wow, that was great marketing 🙂
It was the same Wall drug complete with tourist memorabilia, arcade, Jackalopes and all 🙂 The kids were surprised at how they had remembered it so much larger 4 years ago, that is what happens. It was fun to revisit Wall Drug and we got a couple of homemade donuts and some onion rings and headed back to the RV.
Really chill evening in our RV watching Nacho Libre…we have been enjoying our movie collection recently!
We are off to see a corner of North Dakota tomorrow (last one on the western side of the US to see in our RV) and then staying in Miles City, Montana. We are on our way to Flathead Lake for the 4th of July.