Page 2

     With Wisconsin came my turn to drive. I was still white-knuckling, but there were fewer cars on the highway in Wisconsin, which made it a bit less stressful. As the landscape unfolded,

I started to appreciate why Wisconsin is considered an outdoor lovers vacation paradise. Dense forests opened into green valleys, which gave way to sandstone canyons and rugged cliffs and bluffs. I started to relax my grip on the steering wheel. Ralph must have felt confident with my newly learned towing skills, because he was zonked out in the passenger seat.
I let him sleep thru all of this natural beauty, but had to wake him up when I came upon a very large cow being towed down the road in front of me. Hey, Wisconsin is Dairy Country, after all, and I needed a picture that captured the essence of Wisconsin. The cow was it. I woke Ralph up, handed him the camera and pointed ahead. He laughed and snapped the picture. We continued on I 90 all the way to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where we “lacrossed” over the Mighty Mississippi River into Minnesota. Then it was Ralph’s turn to drive, over the bluffs and hills, then across the open prairies of Minnesota. Ralph drove thru Minnesota, just shy of 300 miles, in what seemed like record time, because when we reached the border with South Dakota, he’d get to take over the passenger side again.

     We arrived at the border of South Dakota, where I 90 stretched across the entire state. It was my turn to drive, about 400 miles, to Rapid City. In South Dakota, the sky got bigger, the land flatter, and the road straighter than any I’d ever seen. And, the speed limit was 80 mph. Yes, 80 mph. Since it was me, the truck and trailer, a road that went straight for 400 miles, and virtually no one else on the road as far as the eye could see, I figured I’d be able to hone my towing skills on this leg of the trip. However, there was a problem. I was tired. We’d been in the truck about 24 hours, driving nonstop. A very long, straight stretch of road lay ahead, and Ralph was already falling asleep. It appeared that there was a whole lot of nothing to keep me engaged and focused on the road; until I saw the first Wall Drug sign.

     Ever heard of the Burma Shave signs? Have you ever driven down to the Carolinas and seen the South of the Border signs? There it was, this silly little sign on the side of the road; and every few miles there was another Wall Drug sign. Some big, some small, some silly, some patriotic, some with colorful cartoon characters. Each one different from the next. For the next 300 plus miles, they were sprinkled along the side of the highway. Which, except for the Wall Drug signs, was very desolate indeed.

     The endless miles went by faster than expected; I guess the speed limit helped. I almost forgot about the trailer behind me. I’ve never driven down a road so straight for so long in my entire life. After about 100 miles of absolutely straight driving, there were signs warning of a turn in the road up ahead in 2 miles, and counted down until the turn. Really, I wouldn’t call it a turn, as I had to move the steering wheel all of ½ inch to the left, then back to straight. I didn’t see why they needed to warn you about that, until it got dark. Really dark. There were no lights, no civilization. While we were on the vast great plains of South Dakota, driving 80 mph, on that flat straight highway in the pitch black for such long expanses, I began to understand that you do need fair warning when the road deviates even a little off course. We came to the Missouri River, and not only did the road have a turn, it also was no longer flat. Down a hill, over the Missouri, into the Mountain Time zone, up the hill on the other side, then more straight and flat sailing down the highway. On and on I drove, thru the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, past the Badlands National Park (mind you, I only saw the signs on the side of the road, it was too dark to actually see what lay beyond them), and past the town of Wall. It past midnight by that time, so there was no reason to stop at Wall Drug, it would be closed. So, I drove on. Finally, when I couldn’t drive another mile, there was a sign on the side of the road for Rapid City!

Page 1
Page 3