It was 6:30 before I hit the road, but I did manage to escape Nebraska!
Each hour of riding brought an entirely new landscape. From corn, to sand hills, to rolling prairie, … and for a while I was thinking, “How will I know when I ride up on the badlands?” It turns out it wasn’t hard to identify them.
Outside of Badlands National Park is the town of Wall. Wall Drug started giving free ice water to tourists in 1931. Since 1931 there hasn’t been a single documented case of a tourist traveling through South Dakota without stopping at Wall Drug. It has the most intensely measured tourist-ational field on the planet, attracting people by sheer power of the billboard alone. The tourist-ational pull has been measured at 5 times the strength of “See Rock City” and 27 times the strength of “Stuckey’s.” I too fell prey to the insidious tug on my tires, but I left quickly.
Fortunately, I had broken free of the Nebraska cornfields, so the force was still strong with me, besides, the 80 mph speed limit on the interstate beckoned. Way to go South Dakota!
Tonight I landed in Sturgis. The rally doesn’t start until August 8th, so I’m here just as vendors are beginning to set up. It’s a little bit creepy. Lots of empty storefronts, and “for rent” signs, tents awaiting their occupants, and gigantic bars that barely have enough people to turn the lights on and off. It’s kind of like I’m at the county fair when people are getting paid to set up the tilt-a-whirl. I’m watching what goes on behind the scenes before anyone throws up.
Tomorrow there will be no westward progress. Instead I’m going to explore the area a bit. On the menu is the Crazy Horse Memorial, Needles Highway, and Mount Rushmore.