Day 4: Good Morning, Kearney, Nebraska! A good night's sleep and we were ready to head out. After breakfast at the motel and a gas-up we went out to see an arch that commemorated where the California Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the Mormon Trail all converged in Kearney. Simply called "The Archway", it is a large arch of steel and wood spanning 310 feet over I-80. The museum in the arch building presents 170 years of transportation history with detailed displays and stories of what it was like on the journey west to new lands.
Originally named Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, you can Google it to find more information. It happened that we were there before it opened, trying to get an early jump on our day's journey. However, we did take time to walk around a bit and go through the maze. Here are some of the sights:
I was a little surprised at the terrain in Nebraska. I had always heard how flat it was and mile after mile of nothing. I actually found the rolling hills to be pastoral and peaceful as we drove along.
We drove up US 83 out of Nebraska as we crossed over into South Dakota, and took State Road 73 on the edge of the Badlands as we headed up to I-90. We crossed over into Mountain Time Zone in Vetal, South Dakota.
Once we got up on I-90 we began to see the signs for Wall Drugs. I had learned about Wall Drugs through reading my favorite author, Richard Paul Evans. He has a series out called "The Walk" series, and I absolutely love reading those five books. It chronicles the walk a man took after losing his wife to cancer, his business to a crooked partner, and his house to the mortgage bank. He wanted to end his life, but his wife had made him promise that he would live. So he decided to walk as far away from his home in Seattle as he could. His destination was Key West. It takes five books to complete that journey, but I was fascinated with the story along the way. All of the cities and places mentioned are real, so it was like taking a road trip with him. He made me want to go see Wall Drugs.
Wall, South Dakota, was like an old western town to me, and in fact, is an old western town. The Drug Store was humongous. We got lunch there in the 530 seat cafe, and Free Ice Water...the very thing they became famous for.
Weary travelers driving across a hot prairie were thirsty for a nice cold drink. The sign was posted in 1936 for Free Ice Water, and it was the turning point for the survival of Wall Drug Store. It's a fascinating story, check it out some time!
We filled up with gas in Wall before heading into the Black Hills National Forest off US 16 south and west of Rapid City, South Dakota. We stopped in Keystone, South Dakota at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but after being to Atlanta Stone Mountain with its sculpture of the Civil War leaders of the Confederacy on the side of the mountain, I wasn't as awestruck as I thought I would be at Mount Rushmore. Still, it was definitely a sight to behold, and worth the stop. I was impressed with the flags from every state lining the walkway.
The sculpture of the four presidents were carved from 1927-1941 with the help of over 400 workers and several influential politicians. About three million visitors each year from this country and around the world visit this National Memorial.
We only traveled through a small portion of the southwestern corner of South Dakota, but it was loaded with scenic sights. One could easily spend a week in that area. It was the only rain we experienced on our whole trip. Glad I had my umbrella with me.
It was time to head to our next motel stop. We had hoped to go to Devil's Tower up in northeast Wyoming, but Corbin had been there, and we decided it was better to go on to Gillette, Wyoming for a good night's rest. We took the loop on US 16 back up to I-90. We checked into the motel around 8 pm and I was ready to just relax. Corbin went out to a Chinese restaurant, which didn't hurt my feelings! Paul and I say we will go to any restaurant but Chinese. That's just not our flavor. I know it's supposed to be the most popular ethnic food, but not for us.
I believe this is long enough for another post segment. This is fun for me, reliving the trip, but I did not expect it to be this long! I'm not sure when I will get back to my next blog post on my Trip West, but it will be next week. See you then, Partner!