OUR TRIP TO WYOMING
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,
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!