Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wall Drug

I do not think it is possible to visit South Dakota without going to Wall Drug in Wall. After all, you cannot miss the signs. Hundreds of them line the east-west approaches along Interstate 90 in South Dakota, tantalizing travelers with offers of five cent coffee and free ice water.

The earliest signs were clever individual signs to advertise Wall Drug, and inspired by the popular Burma Shave slogans of the day. They came up with their own jingle. Passing motorists were treated to a series of signs proclaiming: "Get a soda/Get root beer/Turn next comer/just as near/To Highway 16 and 14/Free Ice Water/ Wall Drug." So today my beer is a root beer. The aquamarine soda really caught my essence, however.

Wall Drug is a sprawling tourist mall that occupies most of downtown and employs most of its population. Wall Drug still has a tiny pharmacy -- the only one within 50 miles -- but its peripheral amusements have taken over and now extend across a labyrinth of connected buildings.

Wall Drug's famous free ice-water well is out in the Wall Drug Back Yard, which also shelters a variety of photo-ops, including a furry six-foot-tall rabbit on wheels, a mini-Mount Rushmore, and a saddled, fiberglass giant jackalope (only slightly smaller than the world's largest, which I missed in Douglas, Wyoming.). I liked the stuffed one in Dubois better.

A fifty-ton, 80-foot-long dinosaur with light bulb eyes stands next to the freeway -- just to remind travelers that Wall Drug is open and you are expected to pay it homage.

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