We left the badlands early to head to Devils Tower Wyoming, our last leg of the journey and my 21st day out and about. As you may have guessed we didn’t just get up and head to Devils Tower. We had lots of side trips planned. Our first ended up not even being planned because that’s how we roll! Less then a 3 minutes out of the park we made our first unplanned stop!
Just outside Badlands National Park is the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. This site is full of the history of the “Minutemen” , cold war era history, and information on Nuclear history. I found it all very interesting and some very scary. It made me think a lot about how much my kids generation growing up with drills for school shootings probably have a lot more in common with my Mothers Generation of “duck and covers” and Cuban missile crisis. I hope these two generations find each other soon and see all they could offer in lessons learned and empathy. Both had a lot of people using escapism to deal with anxiety and PTSD from wars and family issues and a world changing too fast to keep up with..but I digress. That’s what this museum will do for you. Its not a feel good, its interesting, and scary, and a must see.
Next up the much awaited and very feel good stop of the Wall Drug in Wall South Dakota. This place is weird and great and has any and everything you could ever want. Its like a whole board walk shoved into one place. There are shops and food and things to play with all over. Mostly its just weird. The story beind it is really cool. The family has owned it for a long time and it was originally a drug store with ice cream. They had some tough years starting out and couldn’t get much traffic coming through even with all the site seers between the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore. So they decided to put up a bunch of silly signs offering free ice water. People started coming in a much larger crowd for free ice water. While they were there they had some ice cream and took a break from driving. Now it’s HUGE and you can still get free ice water. Also veterans and newlyweds get a free coffee and doughnut! Mine was yummy!
From Wall Drug to Deadwood to see the graves of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane! On the way there another unscheduled run through the town of Sturgis. Jacque is a Harley Girl and loves her motorcycle so we couldn’t pass without stopping in the Mecca of many riders. This meant a trip to the Motorcycle hall of fame. After all that sight seeing we stopped at a small place in dead wood for a bite. We ended up at a little place called Mind Blown where you can have a snack while watching people make blown glass. It was pretty cool!
We found out while sitting there we could go about 20 miles south out of our way before heading to Devils Tower and get to drive the length of the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. We had heard that Spearfish Canyon was worth a see. SO we went south to go north and eventually west back into Wyoming where this all started. The night was spent wandering around Devils Tower Trail and watching climbers, deer, and prairie dogs before settling into our tipi at Devils Tower Tipi Camping. The tipi was super spacious and comfortable. We took a quick drive to the park after the sun was completely down so Jacque could get some photos of the tower and stars with her good camera. The moon came up later so we actually got to see the MilkyWay before she made her full appearance with way too much light to see the smaller stars. The night was still pretty epic. I don’t have many pictures of the tower as I had read that it’s culturally insensitive to take photos that could include the prayer cloths that are in the trees around the tower. This place is very spiritual and you can feel the pull to it. It’s undeniable! The history of this place is very cool and a bit sad. The name of the Devils Tower was a mistranslation and it should be Bear Lodge. There are concerns that renaming would ruin tourism but I cant imagine that being the case.
We ended the day by mixing both cultures in the idea of full respect and laid in our tipi falling asleep while watching Close Encounters of Third Kind!