There must be intelligent life down here

Excelsior Day 6

So, on Thursday, June 27th, we woke up in our tents in the Badlands to a bright and sunny day. We packed up our stuff and made our hike back to the car. We did not try to use the GPS to find the car and ended up navigating the dunes a little bit just by feel. The walk seemed a little longer going back than it did going out, just because the dunes where we expected the car to be were different from where it actually was. But we eventually found the car, loaded all our stuff in, and headed off to our first next destination, which was Wall Drug, in the city of Wall.

Wall Drug is well known for being advertised the entire way across South Dakota. There were billboards practically every five feet telling you to go to Wall Drug, and for the most part, they were all distinct, saying different things. One of the major themes of the billboards was that you could get a cup of coffee for just five cents, and the ice water was free! We arrived pretty early, so some of the attractions in the store were not open, but we got to peek inside through the windows of some of them.

Excelsior Day 5

So, Wednesday morning, we woke up in Palisades State Park nice and chill inside our air-conditioned cabin, which was lovely. We gathered up our stuff and headed out for our day to come. Our first stop on a long driving day was the Corn Palace, a large building decorated with corn. Apparently, they’ve been doing this every year since the 1800s. The outside is covered in different corn, and they come up with a new theme every year. An artist puts together new corn designs each year, and they mark it up with a grid to put all the corn in the right place. It’s like one of those old drawing tests from a magazine, but with corn.

Inside the Corn Palace is a big basketball court with seating where people can watch the basketball game. There’s a stage beyond the court. I assume they put on shows there every so often, considering the history posted on the outside shows different acts over the years, including some famous people from the past that I had never heard of before. They had a bunch of interesting stuff for purchase in the Corn Palace on the basketball court—different shirts, slogans, and souvenirs.

Excelsior Day 4

We started at the hotel in the morning, which was a nice hotel with good toilet flushing power compared to the other hotels. We then headed straight out to the Mall of America, the biggest mall in the country. I had my doubts, but upon seeing it in person, I’m pretty sure it’s the biggest one. It’s pretty big.

We parked in the West Garage on the Texas level. Apparently, all the floors of the garage are named after states. And went inside. They had lots and lots of stores. One of the first things we saw was the Nickelodeon-themed theme park that’s smack in the middle of the mall. We checked out all the roller coasters there and decided to get some ride points so that we could ride a couple of rides. There was one that was themed after Spongebob named “Rock Bottom Plunge” with a drop of some kind, and we rode that. It took us up to the ceiling, turned 180 degrees, and dropped us. There were a couple loops and some wild coils toward the end. It was a bit of a rough ride, but fun still, just like some of the rides in Cedar Point. That ride was pretty cool to find inside of a mall.

Excelsior Day 3

On Day 3 of our trip, we started in Indiana at our hotel close to the Indiana Dunes National Park. We went there after a somewhat subpar continental breakfast at our hotel. The Dunes Park was pretty cool, with lots of sand and a view of the lake. It seems like a beautiful recreation area for people who live nearby. You could see Chicago across the lake.

It was interesting how people sat close to the water, which you would not see at an ocean beach due to changing tides. However, as Riley points out, the lakes are deadly with lots of rip tides, making it dangerous to go out in the water. The lifeguards seemed happy to just leave you to die, as we overheard them on the way out. There were sand slides near the beach, which would have been fun to slide down with waxed boards like we did at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

Excelsior Day 2

In the morning, we got up from the hotel and found that there were no bath towels. We had to dry off with only hand towels, of which there were two. We managed to dry off and get out in the morning and decided to head to breakfast.

There was a location called Juneberry that was touted as the best breakfast place in Cleveland by some places anyway, so we headed in that direction. When we got there, the wait for Juneberry was an hour, which was a lot more time than we wanted to spend waiting for food before we got on with our day. Since we had passed a donut shop called Goldie’s on the way there, on the same block, we went to Goldie’s, and both got long johns, chocolate covered top with vanilla cream filling, and I got a coffee. It was totally fulfilling, and as we walked past the Juneberry on the way to the car, we laughed at the people standing around waiting for their truly frou-frou and bougie experience in their fancy breakfast place.