Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Badlands National Park

As the name suggests, the Badlands exhibit a rugged landscape.  So rugged, in fact, it is also picturesque.  Carved by the forces of nature, the badlands are a jumble of ridges and canyons.  Too bad we don’t have time to explore.

We left our campground in Custer about mid-morning for the short drive (about a hundred miles) to Wall, South Dakota.  Yes, this is the location of the famous Wall Drugs and after we got settled in at our campground, we made that our first stop.

Wall Drugs got a very slow start in 1931 in a then very remote part of South Dakota.  Struggling to keep the business going, the owners had the idea of putting up signs along the highway offering free ice water to weary travelers.  The idea seemed to work; business picked up to the point that today it is not uncommon for 20,000 visitors to stop on a hot summer day.  By the way, they still offer the free ice water.

Our visit to Wall Drugs included lunch at the Western Art Gallery Restaurant.  Amazingly, or maybe not amazingly, this drugstore restaurant houses the largest private collection of western art in the country.

Next, we headed down to Badlands National Park.  We had heard the best time of the day was either early morning or late afternoon not only for the shadows casted on the landscape by the low sunlight, but also for the possibility of seeing wildlife.  We did see wildlife--pronghorn antelope at a distance, mule deer, and a couple big horn sheep.  The low light of afternoon sun, however, was hidden behind a thick layer of cloud.

This should have been the end of today’s story.  I wish it were.  Here is the rest of the story.

When we were getting ready to pull out this morning, Gene noticed an irregularity in the sidewall of one trailer tire.  The campground  owner felt like it was due to sun damage; Gene thinks it could have happened rubbing against a curb.  In either case, to be on the safe side, he wanted to have the spare put on in it’s place.  Our campground owner recommended French Creek Feed and Seed.  Sure enough, they were able to take us right away.  We pulled in across all the parking spaces at the front of the store and they jacked up the trailer, took off the bad tire, remounted the spare tire onto the bad tire rim, remounted the bad tire onto the spare tire rim and had us ready to go in about 30 minutes all for one low price of $15.90.  Of course, with a tire change, we had to stop every few miles to torque that wheel.  The short drive drug on forever.

When we finally got to Wall and set up in this campground, we turned on the furnace.  After all the high today was about 45.  To our dismay, the furnace wouldn’t light.  Gene discovered that we were completely out of propane.  Two 40 lb tanks--that was surprising.  The campground owner suggested a place for refill and when Gene took the tanks out he discovered that only one was empty.  That made more sense, but the indicator was still showing both tanks empty.  After filling the empty tank, the indicator still shows both tanks empty and one is not allowing gas to flow from the tank and the furnace will still not light.  There is definitely a problem somewhere.

Just a little icing on the cake--our right turn signal on the truck has gone out.  Hope it is just on the truck and not on the trailer.  We’ll test that in the morning.

I wonder what will break tomorrow.

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