Road Trip 2009

Road Trip Blog

Deadwood or Bust.

Posted by arpithicus on June 15, 2009 at 3:06 AM

Day 5: South Dakota



Why did South Dakota build Mount Rushmore at the Western Most tip of the state you may ask? The answer is only found when you drive to it from the east. The answer is because there would be absolutely no other freaking reason to drive through this elongated state of cows, buffalo, and gas station casinos. That is unless you are privy to the information that is uploaded to Roadside America on a daily basis. In order to make the 6 hour drive through a state that has no other widely known attraction than 4 heads carved in a mountain, we found 4 attractions along the way to be able to break up the mundane drive ahead of us.



These stops were strategically placed so we could refuel, use the restrooms, and stretch our legs a wee bit. After about 2 hours of driving we arrived at our first stop, which was a tiny church the small town of Laverne, Minnesota. I know, I know I said that we were driving across South Dakota but we entered Minnesota for 10 miles to see this attraction, partly because it was an appropriate thing do on a Sunday morning and partly because we wanted to squeeze another state into our trip. The church was an actual church that had a rock carving that informed us to stop, rest, and worship. We entered the 6 person church and took some photos and signed the guest book, which appeared to be quite full. We stretched our legs a little and stopped at the rest stop that was a small distance up the road before continuing on our journey to the hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota.



Benni and I got a break driving because had finally mustered up the courage to take faith for a spin on the open road. Although, Kat did not like the girth of ol’ Faith she drove her well and took us all the way to our next destination of the Mitchell, South Dakota. While driving there were not many sites to be seen besides cows, grass, and peculiar signs that spoke of all the tourist traps in the area. The sign that was most evident was ones for a place called Wall Drug, but I will discuss that further because that was one of our stops. The next stop which also had quite a lot of signs was the World’s Only Corn Palace. I was confused by this too, but after looking at numerous pictures on line and realizing that in 2 hours from the church my bladder either going to explode or Faith was going to have a wet spot and I was going to be driving for the rest of the trip if you know what I mean. Either way, we agreed to check out this strange South Dakota Land Mark that boasts that 600000 ears of to decorate this tribute to corn and is redone each year.


We pulled off to the highway not knowing what to expect and were soon blown away by how massive this corn palace actually was. Kat parked faith and we left the car excited to check out this Corny piece of Art. It was Amaizing, get it, that is a pun, Aww. Shucks guys I sorry.  Another pun. HA. Alright I will stop now, we had a lot more during this trip. Unfortunately, there were no –last one- Cornographic Art made out of corn ears. Sorry, I could not help myself. In any event we entered the Corn Palace, checked out all the art work and ate some lunch from the Cornsession stand. That one was theirs not mine, so don’t yell at me about the puns. After lunch we hit up the restrooms one more time and left the corn palace in our rear view mirror, and headed to Al’s Oasis which houses a giant buffalo.


I drove Faith from the Corn Palace to Al’s Oasis in Oacoma, South Dakota. This driving trip took a lot out of me due to the lack of sleep and the constant driving and I was done driving for the day after we arrived. This was a quick stop to use the bathroom and snap a few shots of the giant buffalo. We completed both of these tasks and jumped back on the road and headed to Wall South Dakota.



As mentioned earlier we saw a lot signs for this 76000 square foot mall of wonderment. When I say a lot I mean a ridiculous amount of hand painted road side signs scattered throughout Route 90, which is the road we were on all day. We decided to pass the time throughout the day by writing down and documenting every sign we for Wall Drug that we passed on our journey from the east side to the west side of South Dakota. The total number of signs that we saw on the way to this glorified dirt mall was 101. Although that number may be a little lower than the actual number because within the last 2 miles there were about 20 or so signs that Benni and I screamed out as fast as we could and Kat tried to write them down but she was unable to keep up with our micro machine man esque mumblings. We arrived at the Wall Drugstore which was at exit 110 on I-90. Like we all thought it was a over hyped strip mall.  But hell, I am a recovering mall rat so it was like heaven in the middle of South Dakota.  If I lived in this town I would spend all my free time bumming around this wonderful dirt mall.




While at the Wall Drug Store we drank the famous free ice water that all the signs were telling us about and had a cup of 5 cent coffee with a homemade donut. All of you who just made a cop and donut joke can eat it because those yummy pieces of fried dough were great. Some of the random attractions that we took in while visiting the bizarre South Dakota land mark were a mechanical T-Rex that roared, a giant saddled jackalope, a miniature Mount Rushmore, assorted wooden men, and old western art. We bought a few souvenirs and got into Faith to go see the last attraction that was located in the picnic area back were we exited the highway. Just before we left to go see the humongous 80 foot dinosaur we noticed a lightning storm in the distance that was unlike any storm I have ever seen in Jersey. Due to the flat landscape we watched and tried to photograph a constant stream of lightning bolts that seemed to illuminate the sky for miles. We quickly took in the giant dinosaur and loaded into Faith before the approaching storm could soak us to the bone.


We entered the car yet again and embarked on the highway on our way to Deadwood, SD, the location of Cadillac Jacks Casino and our hotel for the evening. While driving we ran right through this awe inspiring storm that lit the entire sky up like a freaking Christmas tree. The rain came shortly after we started driving and mother nature showed us why this country is so amazing with a natural light show that engulfed us completely. As quick as it hit us it was gone and the clouds cleared and left us wondering what the hell just happened. One of the strangest parts of this storm was the fact that there was no thunder just millions of bolts of lightning dancing in the clouds for all to see. It was almost as if nature was showing us Yankees what we are missing living in the shadow of the bright lights of NYC. It also helped that it seemed like we were the only car on the interstate and the show was just for us.

The storm was visible for at least 30 miles on the interstate behind us and it kept on flashing the entire time. As we exited the interstate we saw more lightning in the distance but it seemed like it was about 30 or 40 miles away still so we were in the clear on the storm front.



We pictured Deadwood to be a mini Vegas with a small casino strip and neon lights all over. We were “dead” wrong about Deadwood. After traveling 10 miles around a windy, curvy, mountain road we did not see any lights at all from the “strip.” It turns out that deadwood is nothing more than a series of small hotels at the top of this mountain which happen to have casinos. Cadillac Jacks was no more than one of these hotels. As we entered we saw that there was a petite gaming floor and a restaurant. We ate some food and played some slot machines, where I won $22 and Kat and Benni lost $24 combined which means Cadillac Jack is up 2 bucks in the long run. Mount Rushmore is on the agenda for tomorrow and we are stoked. Check back as usual for more updates. I also want to give a shout out to all the people that are reading this blog and commenting as well. It makes the nights at the hotels a little better.

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Reply Melanie
10:22 AM on June 15, 2009 
Heehee, cop + donut = classic. :) Hope that you guys are having fun - I enjoy reading your blog each morning to see how the day before went.
Reply Ellen
3:35 PM on June 15, 2009 
I'm glad you guys are having fun but you need to get back I had 2 investigators in today for backgrounds. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Be Safe