It was 16 degrees when we rolled out of Mitchell this morning. Our most ambitious day so far loomed - the Badlands, Mt Rushmore, and for reasons unknown, Wall Drug.
On the road, we decided to pass the time by counting Wall Drug Billboards. We had a contest to see who could guess how many we would see on the road. Gwen guessed 44, Miranda guessed 50, and I guessed 55. Answer to be revealed below....
We entered the Badlands under gray skies and light flurries. It was impressive, though not as colorful as it would have been with clear skies. Here is a sample:
Here are Gwen and Miranda, saying "hurry up and take the picture".
We were determined to have a picnic lunch at the Badlands, and by Gosh, we did!
The flat brothers made an appearance, too.
We saw wildlife up close.
Including Prarie dogs....
Temps gradually came up as we were in the badlands, and got up into the low 40s. I had great fun driving the Badlands loop road at rates slightly in excess of the posted speed. I did notice Gwen reaching for the chicken straps on several occasions.
On the way out of the Badlands, the barrage of signs for Wall Drug began in earnest. Gwen was eliminated before even entering the badlands, and Miranda was eliminated shortly after we exited. I lasted nearly to the town of Wall itself... but no. It turns out that we counted no less than 58 Wall Drug Billboards between Mitchell and the sight itself.
So, here it is:
Home of 5 cent coffee, free water, and 56 other wonders described along I-90. So, we got the flat brothers with the sign and hit the road again.
Our final attraction of the day was Mt Rushmore. I have to admit, I was very impressed. Fortunately for us, the late afternoon sun came out, so we ware able to get some decent pictures.
We spent some time in the visitor center and watched the movie about how they built it - 90% by blasting with dynamite. Pretty cool. Now, I did not know that the original plan was to carve the presidents to the waist, shown in this photo of the models.
We left out the back way and were able to get this profile view of Washington.
The downside of going out the back way (SD 385) was that it started getting cold again. It had obviously snowed there earlier in the day, and the roads were wet as the temperatures dropped below freezing. We had a bit of a slow, white knuckle drive till Deadwood, where the temperatures rose again and the road conditions improved.
We are hunkering down in Spearfish, SD tonight. Tomorrow's goal is Devil's Tower, then all the way down to Gardiner, MT, just outside of Yellowstone. It will be by far the longest day of the trip so far - 530+ miles... and the weather could be iffy.
Stats for the day: