The 'badlands'! They claim that until these badlands became known around the world, there was no consistent name for this type of landscape. Now, there are badlands in North Dakota and Alberta (Canada), as well as Turkey.
Go to my Badlands National Park%l page
The ICBM program was one of three programs to counter a Soviet threat during the Cold War Years of (1946-1995). All three programs continue, but the START Treaty of 1995 (?) called for the elimination of many delivery vehicles. As a part of the treaty, each nation was allows to keep one launch facility and one command facility for historic purposes. The system was deactivated and the other launch silos imploded.
What I found interesting was all the backup systems involved. First, the advanced computer that ran these early systems, were only 4K of Memory. Todays home computers have 350 Mb of memory. That's 87,000 times more powerful that the military computers that protected the U.S. for over 30 years.
Second, there were five flights (10 missiles) within each wing. Each flight had a pair on officers waiting for the signal to send the missiles off. While, it took 2 officers in the same command building to simultaneous 'turn the key', the system was redundant and it only 2 of the 5 flights signaled a launch, all 5 of the flights (50 missiles) would be launched. Thus, if one or more control centers were destroyed, those missiles would still go.
Third, there was the airborne, 'looking glass' that had access to each wing's missiles. Thus, even if all 5 flight commanders were taken out before a launch, the airborne controller could still launch the missiles from the flying command center.
The coordination was tremendous and the number of people involved in just sitting around waiting (which is tedious, boring, and can lead to accidents) were large.
After 100 miles of road signs we were happy to get to Wall Drugs. It was a fun, silly stop between attractions for lunch, a maze of gift shops with everything from western wear & gear, toys, home goods, tee shirts, magnets, yes a pharmacy and free ice water.
Due to the simple word of mouth advertising, the bumper stickers and road-side billboards for hundreds of miles, Wall Drug became popular with almost sort of a cult following.
As time went, many people started sending their photos from all corners of the world, all with a reference to Wall Drug. Many of them are on display in the halls and restaurants of Wall Drug. Why not add your own?
Of course, Wall Drug has rows and rows of tourist souvenirs, and all sorts of things to keep you there for longer than you planned. Another set of rooms I remember was the old west town - with all sorts of machines to put your money into and listen to the honky-tonk music, or draw against the bad Jesse James-type gunslinger.
The complex seems to go on for blocks and blocks. Its funny - when I ponder Wall Drugs, it falls into many of the VT categories. Shopping of course, Restaurants - there are many, Tourist trap for sure, Warnings and dangers -- it gets really crowded; fighting for parking could be considered dangerous, Local customs -- only as an example of a location that the locals will avoid.
If you are on your way to Rushmore, you start seeing Wall Drug signs 100 miles from Wall SD, There are more and more as you get closer to Wall - including WALL DRUGS plastered over parked semi's on the side of the road.
It subliminal. You have to stop at Wall Drug. The drugstore seems to take up most of downtown Wall - added on building by building as they expanded and found more things to sell. When we drove in they gave out free ice water and have cheap coffee. We stayed, shopped around for over an hour and had lunch there.
They will try and give you a Wall Drug sign to put on your car (more advertising yet).
Wall Drug is known throughout the world believe it or not. The family that runs it gives away signs to everyone so that you can advertise for them in a sense. I have several. Check out the website for more info about the signs.
The drugstore takes up 2 city blocks and is just plain fun to see. I love the fact that they give out free ice water and have 5 cent coffee. And its not bad coffee either.Make the trip if you are going to Mt. Rushmore or Rapid City. You will be glad you did!
Badlands National Park is one of my favorite places in the United States. The park contains many acres of erosional topography that is visually stunning and somewhat exotic to a guy who grew up in East Tennessee. Badlands is where I first saw pronghorn, a goat of the American West that is often called an antelope. The ground that gave rise to the 'badlands' topography is a very light brown or beige color in most places, and I believe that it may be of volcanic origin. A shallow topsoil covers this ground, and grass grows in this topsoil. Where the grass grows, it protects the soil from erosion. Where there is no grass, wind and water carve the ground into fantastic shapes.
The main tourist part of Badlands National Park is on the eastern end of the large park area and is called the North Unit. The North Unit has a campground, restaurant, (maybe a lodge), developed hiking trails, and some exhibits. If one wants to experience The Badlands, this is the first place to go. I have photographs of the park on my personal website at Badlands National Park.
The developed trails are not that extensive. Castle Trail and Medicine Root Trail cover most of the North Unit's hiking area. They are both relatively flat trails, and an average hiker could probably cover them in half a day or so. I've always visited in the fall when temperatures were not too high. Even in cool weather, I became thirsty on these trails. I strongly recommend that any carry water at any time of the year. Another fun little trail is called Saddle Pass Trail. This trail involves a short uphill section, but the view from the top is very nice. Saddle Pass Trail intersects the others after just a mile or so, and all could be done in a day.
The closest access to the North Unit is from I-90 at Cactus Flat, South Dakota. If one wants to reach the park quickly, the distance from that exit is only a few miles. The 'back way' to the interstate runs through much of the park and meets I-90 at Wall, South Dakota. This road is a beautiful drive in the daylight. On the south side of the road are the badlands formations that give the park its name. Most of them look like those in the main tourist area, but some are especially large or majestic. In one area, the ground has many colors like a rainbow. On the north side of the road are rolling grasslands, and I have seen deer and/or pronghorn in this area on each of my visits. There are many little picnic areas and overlooks on the road, and I strongly recommend the drive.
The South Unit of the park is undeveloped as far as I have seen. For those who want to do backpacking, permits are available to allow backcountry trips through the South Unit. I don't believe that this part of the park has as much badlands topography. I drove towards the South Unit in 1988, and this part of the park is the only place where I saw bison.
If you're on the I-90 between Rapid City and Badlands National Park, you will go through Wall. Wall Drug Store is the biggest drug store in the world and even offers free ice water!
Inside Wall drug, there is a court yard with the free ice water and and minature old west town and other stuff for picture taking. This is the Famous South Dakota Jack-a-Lope.