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mount rushmore to marion

Day 10, day 10! Double digits! In my last post, deadwood to mount rushmore, I recapped what turned out to be a short drive between the two, seeing Mt. Rushmore, some pretty wish trees, Archy in Mount Barkmore, and all the wonders of the KOA.

So today is day 10, a nice long journey from my KOA at Mount Rushmore to another KOA in Marion, Minnesota. Shall we begin?

June 22, 2018

Mount Rushmore to Marion, Minnesota

Archy and I just got settled in at our campsite at the Marion, MN KOA. She peed, and I just ate a peanut butter sandwich.

We left our Mount Rushmore KOA around 7 AM this morning and hit the road. Archy got the roomies in the tent last night, and it was the cutest thing. There was also another site playing Nelly’s “Hot in Here,” which was so funny because my tent was anything but.

wall drug

The drive wasn’t so bad today - in large part, I think, because I took little breaks at stops. Archy seemed to appreciate that, too. The first place we stopped was Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. My parents thought I would like it, and they were right. I also bought myself a beautiful, multi-colored Opal ring. It’s pink and white and blue and yellow and purple, and I’ll think of this road trip every time I glance at it. Wall Drug reminded me of a Western-themed Shore Mall. It was kind of dorky, but that’s what I liked about it. I also saw amazing boots and when I checked the price tag nearly threw up. So I looked at another slightly less-amazing but still amazing in their own right pair of boots and when I checked that price tag actually burst out laughing. Both pairs I liked were around $400 each. Go figure. I’m happy with my ring, and hell would have to freeze over before I paid $400 for a pair of boots.

We got back on the road for a few more hours and stopped next at the Corn Palace. I chatted with a woman named Val at the guest information booth about how my parents had recommended I come check the place out. She asked some questions about my adventure, we chatted for awhile, and she informed me that Archy would be allowed to come inside with me to see the Corn Palace. Obviously I went back to the car and told Archy the good news. She didn’t understand me because she’s a dog, but we happily toured the Corn Palace together. It was cute and quaint, and Archy made friends with a little girl who gave her lots of hugs, as well as with a Lassie dog. There were so many kinds of popcorn in the gift shop it was crazy. I’ve never seen so many varieties of popcorn.

Once we left the Corn Palace, we drove a few more hours, stopped to get gas, and then made it to the Minnesota sign. We pulled into the rest area and went on a very mini hike to take a picture with it. We took a selfie, and then we got two fellow sign-photo-snappers to get a picture for us. We got halfway back to the car and then had to turn back around because oops! silly me left her car keys on the sign’s concrete foundation. Welcome to Minnesota, Johny. NOW YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE! MWAH HA HA HA.

Just kidding! We stopped once more for gas a general store and made it to the KOA! I just got the tent setup and took Archy for a short walk around the campsite so she can see where we’re staying for the night. It’s getting dark, so for now I’m going to beg Archy to stop barking at things outside the tent and hopefully fall asleep sooner rather than later.

I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved Wall Drug. Journaling quickly before bed cannot do the place justice. It feels like the best Western-themed indoor strip mall you could imagine, but it's totally, admittedly, a tourist trap. It knows exactly what it is and who it caters to, and it is a really cool thing to see that in the middle of nowhere. I mean, legitimately, the middle of nowhere. You almost get to a point where you're driving with your dog through so much beautiful, open land where you see any sign of other people and it's a Godsend. It's like how in those cartoons when you were a kid where the pirates are sailing on the open seas and they absolutely go bananas at the sight of land. That's a relatable feeling at times when you see civilization after hours of just midwest beauty. It's a pretty weird way to feel in all honesty.

Also, $400 dollars for boots? Like I get it that boots are not my thing, but I have a really great pair of Ariat boots I got in college that I loved. They were destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, so what did I do? I literally went back out and rebought the same pair of Ariat boots! I think they were tops $150, which is still steep, but the process of making the boots isn't like a $2 process. And they have lasted me since 2012! Granted, they're not ostentatious boots with bright colors or patent leather; they're just tasteful, classic brown. So, in all fairness, if I was into bright colored boots (jesus all I can think of is Ted Mosby's god-awful red ones he loved so much), $400 might be understandable. But still... $400 seems steep especially since my Ariats were less than half that cost and they've survived the Preakness, country concerts with my gal pals, cross-country moves, a Texas wedding, and various other events and occasions. It's like the older I get, the more a Scroogey curmudgeon I become about things being overpriced; I'd rather spend the money on traveling and experiences right now anyway. I'm sure that'll change and in like 5 years I'll get the most wild leather boots known to man. I mean, I hated olives up until like a year ago and literally took a day trip to Cork yesterday to see sights and get some more of the most delicious olives I've ever tasted from the English Market. I also went 25 years without even touching cottage cheese, so life's wild that way.

Also, there was definitely a photo of the Corn Palace from the early 1900s that had a swastika on it (pictured above). There was a hall plastered with archival photos of the Corn Palace over the years since each year the front of it is redecorated with a new design (all in corn). The image had not one but *two* placards indicating that the symbol on the Corn Palace in 1907 was an "Indian Peace Sign," but it's amazing how that symbol no longer bears that meaning in modern society. The 1907 Corn Palace obviously happened years before World War II, but I still had to actively remind myself that the meaning of the symbol in the context of 1907 was not that of Nazi Germany. Even so, I still got the heebie jeebies looking at it and had to do a double take and, again, actively remind myself that context is incredibly important when looking through archives. What a crazy day, huh? So many flavors of popcorn, Nazi symbols, $400 cowboy boots, nearly leaving my car keys on the Minnesota State Welcome sign. I also got lost on the way to the KOA but at this point in the trip, I'd gotten lost at least a dozen times so it didn't really phase me anymore. All it meant was that I got to see some more cool Minnesota backroads before making camp my home for the night!

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