Monday, May 29, 2006

South Dakota: The Land of the Billboards

I spent most of today driving through South Dakota. Quite the experience.

Things I Liked About South Dakota:
  • 75 mile speed limit
  • The scenery (once I was two hundred miles into the state, up until then it was rather unremarkable)
Things I Disliked About South Dakota:
  • Too many cops on the interstate, especially in the area surrounding Rapid City
  • Lots of small road construction zones
  • The Anti-Abortion (ok, technically, Pro-Life) signs: included slogans such as "A choice that kills" and "God Gives Life" - now, I know by talking about religion I am a bit out of my element, but doesn't God also "give choice"? In fact, isn't the whole Christian religion based on the idea of choice? After all, we have the choice whether we accept Jesus as our Savior or not.
  • The billboards for Wall Drugs: The exit for Wall Drugs is the same exit as the one for the Badlands, so it's about two hundred miles into the state of South Dakota. I started seeing signs for this place before I'd even crossed the state line between Minnesota and South Dakota. Talk about overkill. Also, the wording on some of the signs annoyed me: "Wall Drugs as told by [insert magazine/newspaper here]." As told by? That doesn't even make sense. It just sounds bad. Did you mean "featured in," "mentioned in," "advertised in"? I wish I could say I didn't stop but after two hundred miles of billboards and the promise of homemade fudge, I pulled over. I never did find the fudge.
  • 20 mile an hour speed limit in towns: Well, actually I don't know if that's true everywhere, but there was a sign for a Sioux Museum so I took the exit. They actually expect people to transition from doing 80 miles an hour to 20 miles an hour? I couldn't locate the museum, either, and after crawling along for about a mile, I didn't care anymore.
  • "The Scenic Route": There were a few different places with the option of getting off the interstate to take the scenic route. Now call me crazy, but what's the point? There were a few views on the non-scenic route that were rather beautiful but I couldn't take a picture because I was driving; if I took the scenic route, I'd just be wishing I could stop and take pictures. Ironically, there was a rest area at one point made for the purpose of enjoying a scenic view but this stop was in the flat part of South Dakota. You'd think if they are going to have something like that it would be in a place where there actually is a view.

I also stopped at 1880 Town although I was sure it was going to be a tourist trap. I probably should have considered myself forewarned when I saw the "Kids Love It" billboard. It's a recreation of an old town. It's similar to New Salem for any Illinoisans out there, but smaller. The nice thing about New Salem is that you can actually walk around a little bit but the only walking in 1880 Town is the small path connecting all the buildings. They also have a room devoted to props from Dances With Wolves, and Kevin Costner horse (Sisco?) is in a corral. Unfortunately, being the absolutely brilliant person that I am, I couldn't take a picture of him because I remembered to bring my camera but I left the batteries in the car. Of course, the horse is the only thing I would have taken a picture of, so no real loss. They also rented out costumes for $3 so I could have taken a picture of myself in early 20th clothing, but they didn't have anything that interesting to wear. What can I say, I was looking for the show girl costumes (I'm pretty sure show girls back then still wore more than most college students today, and besides, it just sounds more fun than dressing up as a proper village matron). The best thing about the town were the two cats, who were extremely friendly.

Has anyone seen the show Deadwood? One of the billboards advertised the fact that the place had 80 casinos. I was actually considering stopping there since I'd heard of the series until I saw that little fun fact. Besides, I was sick of South Dakota by that point.

The goal for tomorrow is to make it through Montana. I'm currently in Gillette, Wyoming (the next city was an hour away, and I was ready to quit for the night). According to my map, I-90 is in Montana for about 550 miles. That's about how far I drove today.

5 comments:

Isthatayesorano? said...

Sounds like there is not much you won't do for the prospect of some fudge. So did you pet Cisco?

Jen K said...

No. I don't think he liked being a tourist attraction.

Anonymous said...

I am from South Dakota and I think your just another stupid tourist who will never venture off the interstate and will only see South Dakota from a commercial standpoint. I hope when you travel in the rest of the United States that you at least try to experience things other than attractions. But if you do I can only imagine what you think of your own town and state. I travel and camp 3 months a year or more and have visited over 93 National Parks or Historic sites out of 400. Try going off the beaten path and try to get rid of your idiotic opinions. I bet your only staying at motels too....

Anonymous said...

To "anonymous":

I think you're an idiot for not knowing the difference between "your" and "you're". I guess that's what happens when you're "educated" in South Dakota.

Anonymous said...

To "anonymous":

I think you're an idiot for not knowing the difference between "your" and "you're". I guess that's what happens when you're "educated" in South Dakota.