Jun 13, 201209:17 AMRoad Trips
Exploring the world within driving distance of Columbia.
Heading West To Adventure
It is, by our rather meandering route 884.3 miles from our home to Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota.
That way-stop on Interstate 90, basically at the entry to the stark and beautiful Badlands and then further west the Black Hills, grew to popularity because of offering "free ice water" to travelers.
While ice water is not as necessary to today's travelers, Wall Drug still lures 90% of the average of nearly 18,000 daily vehicles from the Interstate to visit Wall Drug.
A circuitous route took us through an overnight in Sioux City , Iowa. It is there that it is highly evident that what we know as Old Muddy in Missouri is a very relatively slow-moving estuary, highly popular for recreational boaters.
Meandering north and west through Nebraska and then into South Dakota at Vermillion it is west to the infamous Gavin Dam, the last of six flood control dams on the upper Missouri river.
A relatively small reservoir holding only .5 million acre feet of water in a beautiful and picturesque reservoir it is the villain and culprit for being the final refuge for waters from North Dakota and released its waters in the flood of 2011.
Make no mind that the other reservoirs with capacities of up to 23.5 million acre feet of capacity sent their waters downstream to the Gavin dam to be eventually unleashed to cause havoc all the way to St. Louis. Gavin was the designated culprit.
Eventually to Wall, overnight and the obligatory visit to Wall Drug, now occupying an entire city block (half the Wall downtown), and then up early to drive across the Badlands to see their rugged beauty in the reflective mornings' sunrise.
Then across Indian Reservations and to Keystone, in the valley of the Black Hills and a good center-place for touring the hills, Mount Rushmore and the animals who make Custer State Park their home.
There are the massive buffalo at this time of year with their young, the pronghorn antelope, the begging wild burros and the prairie dog towns. It is to commune with millions of years of land formations and wildlife with whom we share this place that makes one understand our own relative insignificance in the overall clock of time.
Of course a visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial where a mountain carving has been going on for 64 years showed little immediately discernible change from a visit a decade ago. When will it be finished? Maybe two or three generations more was the answer.
The black hills are disappearing. They are turning reddish brown.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of pines on the mountains whose dark color gave rise to the area's name Black Hills, are dying, turning brown. The pines are invaded by a Beetle whose pine tree death march is visibly and sorrowfully evident.
There is no doubt the black of the hills will disappear before the Crazy Horse Monument will be complete.