Although the Badlands were magnificent, we had more to see in western South Dakota. We were headed towards Mouth Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and the Black Hills National Forest. First stop, though, was Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. Driving west on I-90, we saw approximately 500 signs for it. So naturally we had to check it out. I was not expecting this store to be 4 blocks long, with a backyard nearly as large as the store. They had a map to navigate. A MAP. It was like a whole mini mall all by itself, with charming little fudge shops, a camping supply store for the thousands of people they must see a day doing the same thing that Katie and I are doing, and even a drug store that was part display of an old apothecary shop, part modern drug store. My favorite part: the homemade donuts. YUM. Thank you Aunt Patty for that advice. Katie and I both chose vanilla frosted and I kind of wish we had gotten more for future breakfasts. All in all though, Wall Drug was super overwhelming with all the tourists in there and the sensory overload that the shops were assaulting you with.
From there we headed for Black Hills National Forest. We figured a short hike in the woods would do us some good after our time in the relentless sun of the Badlands. We ended up on the Flume trail, an easy hike along a meandering little stream.
And you guessed it, this is where I fell into the stream. Let me preface this story by saying that the bridges created to traverse the streams were sub-par. They were essentially long boards connected together vertically (rather than the standard way you picture a bridge looking) across the stream in what was a five foot wide balance beam. (see the picture to the right if you’re confused). We crossed the stream three times; the first two bridges we encountered were extremely warped, so that the bridge formed a shape that lined up with the trail kind of like the path you would take in baseball if you were planning to round first and sprint to second. Roughly a half circle, and not even flat on top. The part you were supposed to walk on was at about a 45 degree angle. This is why I found myself, hopping from rock to rock trying to get across the stream without getting my boots wet (they were not waterproof at all). Naturally I found a rock that was not stable and fell on my butt into the water. Right in front of a lovely little family whose dad turned to Katie and told her to take a picture quick! While I was still sitting in the water! Because the water was so shallow, it was a nice warm dip before continuing on our hike. It was definitely nice to be in a more familiar landscape for a little while.