Friday, October 12, 2001

Hello from Wall, South Dakota!

Start time: 0745

Start odometer: 18245

Weather: Cloudy east, clearing west, 40 degrees F.


Today started as a special day...It is the three month mark of my incredible journey!  I left my apartment on July 12, expecting to be gone a month or two.  It has been and continues to be a wonderful experience.  I wish I had the ability to write well to better share my experiences.  If you ever get a chance to take a trip such as this, take the time to do it!  Words cannot take place of the actual experience.


I spent the first part of the morning at the bowling alley cafe having breakfast.  I had some great conversations with several of the people that stopped in.  First was Gary Young, a teacher at the high school who upon entering the cafe asked "What is a car with Maine license plates is doing in North Dakota!  Did you take a wrong turn?"  I responded by saying I took a correct turn!  I began talking with him and his friend Herb Bouts, one of the town's old timers.  I learned more about the the town and surrounding areas.  Looks like one of the big issues with hunting season starting tomorrow is how several of the land owners are leasing their land for hunting.  Seems out of state hunters, including the likes of Jack Nicholson, can pay an organizer two hundred dollars a day plus twenty for each grouse and hunt on certain land exclusively.  Fortunately, many of the ranchers open their land at no charge, allowing locals that cannot afford hunting on leased land the opportunity to use their property.


Gary had to go to work at the school (I did not ask what he taught, but he had a shirt with the periodic table on it!)  I spoke with Herb a bit more, and before he had to head off to a meeting in his 1975 Chrysler New Yorker (proud of the ride) he told me about "The Enchanted Highway."  Just north of Regent North Dakota along a country road are very large metal sculptures space several miles apart.  With this I learned of my next destination.


I took another gravel road off east of Route 22 and found the highway.  The first statue was of ducks, followed by Theodore Roosevelt on a horse, and finally, the tallest metal family in the world!  Pictures are below...  They were very interesting to see with the large ranches and buttes in the background.


I stopped in Regent to pick up some postcards and a man at the Sinclair station suggested I take the scenic Route 79 through the Custer National Forest when I get to South Dakota, so I planned my drive with that in mind.  Before heading south, I had to go through New England again, so I stopped for gas and to get an answer to one more question.  They have a very loud siren in town that had blown several times during my visit.  The attendant at the Amoco station provided the information.  The siren will blow five times a day.  At 0700, it blows to wake people up for work, at 1200 it blows to mark the start of lunch.  The siren then blows at 1300 to get people back to work, followed by the 1800 blow to let the town know it is time for supper.  The final blow is at 2200, which designates the start of curfew for the kids in town.  As the gentleman said, you do not need a watch.  One exception, they do not blow the siren for most of the day on Sundays.


After departing New England, I headed south towards Route 79.  Along the way, I passed the highest point in North Dakota, and also the geographical center of the United States in Castle Rock, N.D.  Unfortunately, I did not see any signs posting this fact, but I will post a picture below.  Route 79 through the Custer National Forest was beautiful, and the buttes were fascinating.  It was good to hear about this drive!


My next city to see was Sturgis, South Dakota.  On the second week of August, it becomes a Mecca for Harley Davidson riders, with several hundred thousand bikers in town for at least the weekend.  The city obviously has gained much experience over the years, since it is not a big city, to support that many visitors at once!


Heading southeast, I arrived in Rapid City.  A couple of weeks ago from Tok Alaska, I called Norma, the manager of Mailboxes Etc. in Maine, where I have a mailbox.  She was kind enough to forward my mail to the office in Rapid City.  I received no checks (none expected!)  But I did get my new ATM card, the replace the one I was carrying with me that expired last month!  That, of course, is the main reason to get my mail!  Cathy, the local staff member, also gave me some good ideas and directions to sites I will be visiting.  I have been so privileged to meet great people on this trip!


After driving through Rapid City, I headed southeast towards the Badlands.  I have wanted to visit this area for many years after hearing about them from Mark Saenger, a friend who had traveled her several times.  I got an interesting view as I drove through the park.  It was after sunset and the landscape presented very interesting shapes in the glow of twilight.  I had a slight problem finding a hotel.  I was hoping to stay at one particular town near the southwestern section of the park but the lodging facilities were closed.  I ended up at another place I wanted to visit, Wall, South Dakota.  If anyone has ever driven out this way, they know about Wall Drugs.  They highway advertise like "See Rock City" in the south.  I will visit the store in the morning before heading on a road north of town suggested by a gentleman at the Cactus lounge, where I had supper this evening.


I hope to get to or near Mount Rushmore tomorrow.  Thanks for visiting! 


Click on picture for larger image, hit back button to return to this page.


Routes traveled today: ND 22 - County Road 4524 - CR 4531 - ND 21 - US 85 - US 12 - ND 22 - South Dakota 79 - US 90 - SD 16 - SD 44 - SD 240 - US 90 - SD 240

Hotel: Super 8 -

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Copyright 2001 Igor N. Nikishin

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