Saturday, June 04, 2016

All Day Ride

That's not exaggerating.  We left at 9 am and returned at 7 pm 250 miles later.  We rode through National Grasslands, National Forest, and a National Park in our continuing exploration of south west South Dakota.

Just after we entered the Black Hills National Forest north of Custer City (just south of Rapid City), these deer ran across the road. 

View of the unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial.  Note the outline of the horse's head.

At Rapid City we turned east on I90 and entered the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.

We began to see these signs.  There must have been 100 in the last 30 miles outside town. 

They didn't want you to miss it! 

And miss it you would if you blinked.  The town of  Wall, (called that because it sits on one wall or edge of the Badlands),  consists of one street that is two blocks long and a cross street that is 4 blocks long.  The main street has some small shops on one side and Wall Drug and a lot of free parking on the other.

In 1931 Wall Drug was just a small store in a tiny hamlet of 326 people.  In July of 1936 when the Mount Rushmore Monument started drawing tourists to the area, the owners conceived the idea of offering free ice water to lure hot, thirsty travelers into their store.  To draw attention to it they followed the Burma Shave tecnique of a series of  1'x3' signs advertising the free water and giving directions in rhyme.  It worked.  Today Wall Drug gives away an estimated 5,000 glasses of ice wter every during the summer.  They'll even fill your jug! 

We have arrived. (In case you forgot, our good friends and bike riding buddies Brock (l) and Leola (r) flank Duane.)

Interesting metal art chopper.

We cruised up one side of the street window shopping and stopped in the HD store.  On display was a 1937 Knucklehead, and 

a 1953 service car.

When we entered Wall Drug we discovered that it is an indoor marketplace.  We got a map so that we could find our way around.

Duane tried his luck but no go.  I told him to wave greenbacks.

Yes, they do weddings.

Museum was closed.

Lunch at the Cafe.  Duane and I opted for buffalo burgers.  I think they are much better than beef.

The original drug store--expanded and modernized.

They sell Jackalopes.

At a fuel stop on the modern edge of town we discovered that dinosaurs still roam the area.

Outside Wall we turned south on CR 240 and entered the National Park.  Our Parks Pass once again gained us free entry.  The Park covers 244,300 acres of the White River Badlands just north of the infamous Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  A part of the Park is within the west side of the Reservation.

The Badlands were named by the Dakota Indians who called it 'land bad" and by French trappers who explored the west in the early 1800's.  They called the area a "bad land to cross".

 The Badlands are only bad to cross by early travelers.  We rode on paved roads and stopped at many of the overlooks.  The Badlands consist not only of rock formations, but also prairies.  The Lakota lived here and many pioneers homesteaded and cattle ranched here. 

In the prairies we saw antelope,

prairie dogs,

 and big horn sheep. We didn;t see muledeer, bison, or coyotes.

The badlands were once a portion of a giant salt water sea.  Tectonic and volcanic activity pushed the sea floor up.  At the water drained away it left behind broad, marshy plains.  These were covered in white volcanic ash.  Rivers flowing eastward from the Hills along with wind, rain and snow, carried away thousands of tons of sedimentary deposits.  The vibrant colors are caused by mineral deposits.  The layers containing tinges of oxidized manganese have a purple cast.  Iron oxide in small quantities produce the orange and tan layers.  Volcanic ash, dropped by westerly winds from the Rocky Mountains produced the white layers.  In places where the ash fell and mixed with silt and clay in the streams, it produced the dirty grey layers.  

The blue mesa on the far horizon is Eagle Butte, thirty miles away.

Turning back west toward home we rode CR 44 through more of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.

View of the southern edge of the Badlands. 

We were extremely lucky to site two of these very rare dinosaurs today!

Took a break at this little store/gas station in the middle of the prairie--literally.

Once we got back to Rapid City we retraced our route of this morning.  

We hope you enjoyed riding with us.  Come tomorrow too.

Louise and Duane

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