South Dakota Trip Diary – Day 2

Written by Justin posted on Aug 3, 2015 in Family, Photos, Summer, Vacation

Day 2 (6/20/2015) we got off to another early start. With another 6 hour drive across South Dakota to reach our final destination, we were all eager to get going. We bid farewell to Sioux Falls with a refueling at the hotel breakfast bar.

Have you ever heard of Wall Drug? I hadn’t. Or maybe I had through the occasional bumper sticker or pop culture reference. Part way through Minnesota we started seeing roadside advertising along I-90 for this establishment. Their marketing campaign worked on us, hook-line-sinker. Five hundred road signs later, and we decided to deviate from the path to see what all the fuss was about.

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It’s equal parts tourist attraction, mini-mall, cook shanty and souvenir mecca. At first I wanted to write this place off….but when you see past the face value and how it came to being. It’s quite a story. So yea, it’s worth a stop when traversing the interstates. Free ice water might not mean as much now as it once did, but they’re sticking to it!

We spent more time than expected seeing what Wall Drug had to offer. Shortly after we were faced with a decision point. Whether or not to stop in the Bad Lands now or on the way back. We decided to forgo another detour to get to our target.

We did not have many constraints for our destination point. We knew we wanted it to be in the Black Hills. We wanted a cabin which could comfortably sleep both families. That was really it. No other amenities necessary.

The cabin we went with is in a rural section of Lead, SD. Having only viewed photos online, you can never be too confident of these places until you get the keys and get inside. Well, the Moose Manor was excellent. A cozy cabin just close enough to a couple others but backwoods enough to satisfy. In fact, we would see deer running through the back overlook on more than one occasion.


Deadwood is a town also rich in history and folklore. It’s just south of Lead. Seemed like the perfect spot to investigate and feed two hungry clans. We ended up coming during Wild Bill Days. A street festival of sorts celebrating the life and times of Wild Bill Hickok.

The festival itself was really no different than any other street fest. Music, shopping, booze, bikers. I did not see the connection to Wild Bill. However, walking through downtown you can see the pride this town has for it’s connections to the outlaw. We ended up settling in at Mustang Sally’s. A nothing to write home about bar & grill. But when you are on foot  with 7 hungry kids and hundreds of people filling up the streets. Well, sometimes you duck into the first joint with immediate seating.

After dinner, we wondered the streets a bit in search of ice cream. We got to a place featuring homemade ice cream and ate by ourselves in a backroom while the rest of the town danced it up to honky tonk. The sporadic and unplanned nature of this day/night was a precursor for the rest of the trip. Which is exactly the way I like it.


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