Go(ne) west young man
This is part two of my "typing a whole bunch of nonsense to test out how well my hands are working post" Please forgive any out of the ordinary nonsensical rantings that may be found here.
Despite having grown up traveling to Mitchell, SD to visit grandparents as well as beginning college in 1999 in Madison, SD and living there fulltime since 2003... up until last week when I went to Rapid City, SD to teach a class, the furthest west I'd ever been in this state was Huron (which is only a few miles further west than Mitchell).
Pathetic to say the least.
While out there I did make it a point to make some of the necessary stops and one of the key ones was seen on my way back home on Saturday after a long week, that stop, Wall Drug where I found a cashier and said "I'm sorry... but I have to ask the horrible questions... where is the free ice water? And where are the signs?"
She laughed and said "Those aren't the horrible questions, the horrible question I get all of the time is 'this is it?'"
The short version of Wall Drug is that back in 1931, a gentleman by the name of Ted Hustead purchased the drug store in Wall, South Dakota and in an effort to drive business from the local interstate, his wife had the brilliant idea of putting a sign along the road, "Free Ice Water."
The plan worked, brilliantly, and as a result Wall Drug is now a tourist destination that has a variety of stores within... a diner, western wear, traditional tourist/novelty items (ie shirts, hats, shot glasses, spoons, etc)... and still a fully stocked drug store.
If it wasn't for Wall Drug, the town of wall likely would have died long ago like so many other South Dakota towns have and continue to do... and for all of those tourists who say 'this is it?' I would just remind them of the signs they saw... most of them told you exactly what there was to see/get... free ice water.
Another stop I made while out west was to Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, two sights I'd only seen in pictures previously and had to see for myself... if for no other reason than to take some pictures of the Channel 9 Guy in front of them.
Being a person who has come to know the east river side of South Dakota pretty well, I found the west river area to be strange and confusing... the land isn't flat you see, there are all these hills... and mountains... roads go up and down at strange times and sometimes quite sharply... not the slow and graceful assents and descents that east river folks are accustomed to.
Most puzzling... was the level of green.
Growing up in Minneapolis I came to know green pretty well... you couldn't get away from huge numbers of trees and a buddy said that when he moved to Phoenix, all of the green was something ended up missing.
Similar comments were heard several years ago when a friend visited MN with me and she was shocked to see just how much green there was.
East River we have plenty of green as well... only most of it is agriculture or shelterbelts around farm houses... west river though I was shocked by the number of trees made up the Black Hills as well as puzzled by the sort as I hadn't seen any like em in years: