Westbound Day 14 – 400 miles – Yanckton to Rapid CityFriday, 1 July 1994
Thirty miles from Yankton we discover we’re on the wrong road, heading north instead of west. With that little mishap sorted out we roll westwards across green, lush and roller-coasting prairies. I thought they were supposed to be flat?
The weather report said temperatures in the 80s but it’s soon distinctly chilly and periodically very wet. All around us there are dramatic thunderstorms and we pass under one front with clouds so black and so low it’s almost like night.
The rain ends as sharply as it began and we continue west into the knockout Badlands, looking a bit like the eroded scenery of Death Valley, but rising out of green prairie grass like isolated islands in a sea. It’s a very dramatic place.
Coming this way we sneak up on Wall’s famous Wall Drug by the back entrance. It’s said there are 500 billboards along I90, all proclaiming that life and a visit to South Dakota will be a bummer if a visit to Wall Drug isn’t on the itinerary. Although we only get a half dozen Wall Drug billboards on our back route we still make the obligatory pilgrimage. It’s quite a place, a nice blend of unashamed hokum and tongue in cheek commercialism and definitely worth a stop after a long day of prairie crossing.
From Wall it’s just 50 miles to quiet Rapid City, another place that’s all entry roads and very little town centre. We treat ourselves to a little luxury at the historic Alex Johnson Hotel, probably because it’s such a prominent landmark in the low rise downtown. We soon discover that the facilities include what must be some of the world’s squeakiest beds.