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September 3, 2005

Badlands Kitsch

If you've ever driven I-90 through South Dakota, you know that there isn't that much to see. Lots of corn fields, lots of highways, and that's about it.

Except for the Wall Drug signs. Every few hundred yards as you drive west on I-90 in SD you'll see a billboard on the side of the road advertising Wall Drug. Examples of Wall Drug's signs:

There are literally hundreds of these signs along the highway in South Dakota. Rumor has it there are lots more in other states. I've seen them as far away as central Minnesota to the East and Western Idaho to the West. So any plans you had of driving past exit 110 off I-90 without stopping at Wall Drug are damn near nonexistent.

That being said, here are Freja's adventures at this ultimate in tourist stops.

Wall Drug actually does have a drug store, along with a leather store, a book store, a cafe, a huge gift shop (naturally), a video arcade, a small church/spiritual rest stop, a candy/fudge shop, and lots and lots of South Dakota souvenirs. You can pick up Mount Rushmore stuff here, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally stuff, Badlands dinosaurs souvenirs, stuffed jackelopes, and t-shirts of every size and shape.

Wall Drug is the largest employer in Wall, which has a population I'd have to guess of being around 1,000. A lot of the workers there are Eastern European; they seem to fly in young people from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, etc. and put them to work for the summer. "See America"?, I suspect, is the lure. But most of them seem to be good spirited, so I doubt there's much indentured servitude going on.

One of the highlights is their "backyard"?, where you can see stuffed animals (both real and fictional), exhibits of the Wild Wild West, and of course the giant animatronic T-Rex. This is where Freja spent most of her time.

&mdash Kevin of Beans Around the World, Freja's Keeper Extraordinaire

Freja in front of the store.

An old timer

Buffalo Bill

We were just trying to get closer to this scantily dressed figurine. And Freja promised that she kept her eyes above the neckline.

Freja tries her paws at bull riding.

Freja and the animatronic T-Rex. Every 12 minutes he comes to life, spewing smoke and roaring at the crowd.

Joining a "friendly" game of cards. The white haired guy is supposed to be Doc Holliday, pulling his Colt .45 on a card cheater.

In the mouth of a T-Rex, hoping for the best.

Posted by dmd at September 3, 2005 6:48 PM