Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 17: What I Didn't Do on My Summer Vacation

We did a long haul today - about 370 miles, but it was worth it. We escaped South Dakota.

The drive across the state was pretty featureless. The land was flat, and there really wasn't much to look at. "At least it's not as bad as Nevada," LK said. Which is a little like saying, "At least it's not as bad as syphillis."

Because we were committed to making it through to Minnesota, we decided on just one pit stop for lunch. Which meant that we had to clench our jaws and resolve to drive by some of the great tourist spots that line the state between Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

We did not go to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, the world's only palace made from corn.
Since admission is free, we might very well have stopped off to check it out, but unfortunately I had brushed the button that triggered the four-way flashers on the rental car and didn't know how to shut them off. We had to pull off the highway, and LK felt that 5-minute delay meant we had to scratch the Corn Palace from the list.

We had already bypassed Wall Drug, which is a strange name for what amounts to a tourist trap -- pardon me, I meant Free Family Attraction. It is quite a diverse place with large rubber dinosaurs, gold mining, the train station water show and other stuff that, I suspect, stops being free pretty soon after parents let the kids loose.

We stopped for lunch in Murdo but chose to skip Pioneer Auto. Hundreds of old cars and motorcycles have been added to with collections of pinball machines, lunch buckets and whatnot. Neither of us cares much about cars so it was easy to skip. If only we had known what I found out later on the Internet. Elvis' motorcycle is there. To think that we were so close to something the King's butt had rested on!

There are also old tractors at Pioneer Auto, but the betting here is that real tractor buffs should visit the South Dakota Tractor Museum. We didn't. Nor did we have much interest in stopping off at 1880 Town. This is a re-created Old West village, made up mostly of sets from old westerns. We could see it as we drove down the highway, and frankly, it didn't look all that different from lots of real places we've driven through in Australia.

We had a bit of a debate about visiting the other tourist attractions. One was called Olivia's Adult Supercenter; further down the road Annabelle had opened her Adult Supercenter. Anyhow, about the only thing I will show you here that we missed by not going there is this picture. But it's just as well we didn't go. Many of the things they were selling looked like they would hurt.

And those weren't the only places we skipped. There were so many attractions I honestly believe we could have spent a whole week just travelling through South Dakota. There was the Petrified Rock Garden, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park, the home of Laura Ingalls (I assume it was a little house on the prairie), and Al's Oasis, a diner bragging that it still sells 5-cent coffee.

There also was a billboard promoting - and I am a serious about this - a "drive-through casino". Since we bypassed this, as well, I am not sure how that works. But I suggested to LK that you probably drive up to one window where they ask you how much you want to bet and take your money. They tell you to drive forward to the next window to collect your winnings. And, of course, the next window tells you that you lost the nest egg.

Anyhow, we have crossed the Missouri River and entered a new time zone. We are in Minnesota, and our goal tomorrow is to get out of Minnesota and into Wisconsin where we will stay for a few days.

And finally, several odds and sods have been sitting around waiting for a post where I could use them. Since today's post is about things we didn't do, I thought it was a good time to include them.

First, I would like to tell you about some of our favorite signs that we have seen on this trip.

Just today we saw a sign on Iversen's Inn, a motel in Murdo.

"Three Beds
Very Clean
Stop and Look"

urged the sign. We thought about it, but decided in the end that any motel that was urging tourists to check out clean beds was probably not a place we wanted to visit.

There was a great sign outside of Jackson, that read: "Hitting a 2,000-pound buffalo will ruin your car". Not to mention the buffalo. And in Yellowstone, the authorities kept us on our toes with regular signs reading: "Be Bear Aware".

But the best sign so far was in Nevada. Numerous times along the highway, this fairly ominous message popped up: "Report Shooting from the Road". We're not sure why Nevada needs to post that sort of sign, but we were both fairly happy to cross the state line without seeing anything that needed reporting.


This info is really for my Aussie friends. I am pretty sure it doesn't even raise an eyebrow among Americans. But if you are ever wondering why I feel thin when I visit this place, consider this dessert offering at the Applebee's chain:

Mile High Ice Cream Pie

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