South Dakota
South Dakota
Date June 19, 2011
Time: 9:54 CST
Location: Mitchell, South Dakota

Weather: Humid, rainy on and off
Temp: 73 F

Gas: $3.89/gal
Day 5
Today was awesome! Ok, so I am not only a sucker for fossils, rocks, and bones, but I also
like seeing animals and military nostaligia.  We got up this morning and took a walk through
Deadwood where we found the location of Wild Bill Hickocks demise.  He apparently are his
last meal as the Oyster bar (??) and then was shot in Saloon 10 next door in the back of the
head while playing cards. We checked out a few shops but mostly there were casinos
everywhere.  Big tourist spot. I didn't know South Dakota had legalized gambling.

Once departing from there we headed to Rapid City where we decided to go through a drive
through park called, Bear Country USA.  We paid our fee, read all the rules of the park: don't
feed the animals, keep windows rolled up at all times especially when in the bear enclosure,
and if your car dies, honk and wait for someone to come to rescue you.  Hmmm... ok.  So we
began with some elk, reindeer, and deer.  Nice mild mannered animals.  They grazed and paid
no mind to us coming through.  Then we began to approach the bears.  All the traffic was
slowing down and stopping.  There was a bear pacing at the entrance. Across the entrace was
a gate of sorts.  It consisted of horizontal rods with open space beneath.  It allowed cars to
drive over it, but the spaces between were too wide for the bears.  There were also some
wires inbetween that were vibrating to keep the bears from coming out of the fencing. Pretty
amazing, and it worked. They wouldn't cross. There were SOOOOOOO many bears. All
black bears, they walked in front of the cars, near the cars, around the whole enclosure.  
Some even stopped outside the car window and looked at us for a bit before moving on.  It
was something.  Once we left there we say mountain lions, arctic foxes, wolves, buffalo and
more.  The babyland section was an area you walked around on by foot. So we got to see
some of the smaller animals and then came the baby bears. OH MY GOSH... I wanted to hug
one and take it home.  We were laughing so hard and they played, wrestled, bit at each other,
fell off logs, howled, and just frolicked about.  It started to rain pretty hard about the time we
were leaving, so we lucked out.

Next we headed down the road to the Ellsworth Air Force Base where we were able to go to
the air and space museum.  We got there just in time to get on the bus tour for the base and
the Minute Man II missle silo.  It brought back a lot of military living memories. Commisary,
bowling ally, youth centers, etc. It was a nice base, nice housing, safe... Ellsworth built Rapid
City. Without this base Rapid City (pop. 64,000) would never have grown into what it is
today.  Ellsworth was the hub of the Missle Man II missles in the South Dakota area.  
Although the Minute Man II missles have been decommisioned there are a few sites around
South Dakota that gives you the opportunity to see a launch facility and tour the silo.  The
Minute Man II missle could go 6,200 miles in 30 minutes. If you think that is fast, the new
missles, the Missle Man III  can do that in 3 minutes.  There are 3 states that currently have
the Missle Man III missles. Ellsworth will be facilitating the training of the drone program and
facility for the control of the drones.  They will be sending them and controlling them around
the world and into battle sites from the AFB. The drones are an unmanned craft costing about
$13.1 million a piece.  They go about 230 mph and can climb as high as 50,000 feet.
Ellsworth had a nice selection of planes on the premesis. It was a great stop!

We continued on down the road taking a well deserved break in one of my favorite shopping
centers ever.  Wall Drugs store.  
Wall drug was established in 1931.  Starting out as a small
drug store just after the depression, it needed some pizzazz.  It began advertising for free ice
water, which was definitely prized at the time.  This brought in tavellers far and wide. It is now
a VERY popular SD destination.  You can't miss it!  Literally, there are a buttjillion signs along
the way. I should know, the boys made me take pictures of all the signs. I think I have 100
pictures of wall drug advertisement signs. Sheesh.  We walked around, saw the 6ft bunny
rabbit, the roaring T-Rex, Pappy the miner, and Billy got what he was looking for, a bowler

It was a great day, but it is now 10:25 and tomorrow we have HOURS of driving after seeing
the Corn Palace and Laura Ingalls Wilder prairie homestead.  See you tomorrow night!!
I love you Pappy!
      Love, Brenda and the boys
to Rick, Shaun, Rogelio, Greg, Bill,
Mike, and all the other dads I know!
Time Warp!
What time is it anyway??? So all you
in California are thinking, it is just after
8:00 and everyone in Michigan is
thinking that it is acutally 11.  I am
stuck in the time warp inbetween.  My
body can't seem to adjust and all the
museums closed an hour earlier!
Now that's a
These bears are going to town...
and I don't mean to go shopping!
No wonder there are so many baby
bears in the nursery!
Ellsworth AFB
Wall, South Dakota