P.S. the eatery didn't get great reviews. Sorry the pictures aren't great - we were driving by on the Freeway.
We know how much Chacho loves chicken. Imagine our surprise, when we were leaving San Antonio yesterday and drove right past Chacho's Chicken! It was even spelled the same way. We let him know that we knew he'd been holding out on us.
P.S. the eatery didn't get great reviews. Sorry the pictures aren't great - we were driving by on the Freeway.
For my Birthday, I had wanted to go back to the Riverwalk. When I was there 12+ years ago, it was right before Christmas, and it was beautiful. The twinkling lights, the smells from the restaurants bordering the walk, the people stopping to admire the beauty that is the San Antonio Riverwalk.
Cut to 2018. Yesterday was the first day since my Birthday that it either wasn't freezing cold or raining cats and dogs. So, we thought, good day to go.
The skies were bleak and gray all day and it drizzled. It wasn't cold enough for a jacket, but too cool to go without, so we spent all our time taking off and putting on our jackets.
I had input Riverwalk parking into my phone's GPS, thinking it would get us as close as possible. Once we parked and started walking, we realized that that was not the case. Nothing looked like it did when I was there last. And we ended up taking a roundabout way that meant we walked for at least a mile before we got there.
Once we arrived, we went to Schilo's the Riverwalk's oldest deli. It had texan and some german foods, so we enjoyed a nice lunch. After a nice lunch, we walked down the stairs and hit the Riverwalk.
It was just as gorgeous as I remembered and there were no crowds, probably because smarter people realized the weather wasn't great and stayed away. The landscaping was lush and grown out. The sidewalk cafes looked colorful and bright. We listened to one of the sightseeing barge drivers making jokes as he meandered throughout. I even found the restaurant we ate at all those years ago.
We walked for probably a mile or so and I did a little window shopping before we decided to start heading back to the truck.
Did I mention that I left my purse in the truck? Which meant, of course, that my camera's battery died and I had to use Dave's phone to take pictures. It also meant that my phone was back at the truck with the address of the parking lot in it. Did I also mention that downtown San Antonio is much bigger than I remember?
We came back out on street level several blocks from where we entered. Nothing looked familiar and all I could remember about the parking lot was that it was somewhere near Broadway and Fourth Street.
We looked at several maps, stopped (me) a couple of times and asked for directions and we still managed to navigate through most of downtown SA. I was beginning to think that we would have to get a taxi to go home and buy a new truck, because how could I find ours in the midst of all these buildings that didn't look familiar?
We ended up at a park that we had never seen before while I insisted that the church we were near was the one near the parking lot. It wasn't. But we finally found Broadway and all we had to do now was find Fourth Street. We argued about the direction to take. Luckily, I was right and we only had to walk a few more blocks because Dave saw the truck.
So, we probably walked two or more miles just trying to find the truck. We were exhausted! Dave could barely walk and I had a blister that didn't just pop open, it bled all the way through my sock.
So, lessons learned: Take a picture of the damn parking ticket with the address on it. If I used my phone to get there, bring it with me so I have the address. Bring my damn purse so I have an extra camera battery cause phone pics in the gloomy mist really suck.
We can honestly say that we'll never forget our first trip together to the SA Riverwalk and now I know what not to do when I take my mom there. Adventure? We got that in spades as we contemplated never finding our truck again. I was already envisioning how I would get a new license from TN, as well as credit cards and other things in my purse. Then I thought that after a week or so of the truck not moving, maybe someone would run the plate and we'd get notified. So, maybe we should just rent a car for a week and see what happens. All those crazy thoughts helped me walk every step. Did I mention that I hugged the truck when we got back to it?
Just another day, living our not-so-simple life :)
Below are the pictures that I managed to take. Hope you enjoy them - they were well earned!
So, we were sitting in Dallas this morning, frustrated cause we had to sit around two more days until we could get to our first winter home in Castroville, just outside San Antonio.
Then we remembered, hey, we have wheels, let's just go! So we called our campground and made sure that we could come early.
That was at 10:45 am. By 11:30 we were on the road!
It was a long, long drive. We got here at 7 p.m., just before it got dark. But we're glad we got the drive out the way and can settle down now for a couple of months.
P.S. San Antonio sure has gotten a lot bigger since I was there last, over a decade ago!
Today's journey was much more somber than those we usually head to, but equally as memorable. We went downtown to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
I didn't go into the museum, but instead stayed in the Outside Memorial. A Park Ranger gave me a brochure, detailing all the parts of the Memorial and what they stood for. This brochure states it so much better than I ever could, so I'm paraphrasing below:
"The Outdoor Memorial: this remarkable national monument occupies the now-sacred soil where 168 Americans were killed. It is a place of comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.
The Gates of Time: Framing the moment of destruction - 9:02 am - the 9:01 East Gate depicts the innocence before the attack. The 9:03 West Gate marks when healing began.
Reflecting Pool: What was once NW Fifth Street now cradles gently flowing waters that help soothe and inspire calm.
The Survivor Tree: Encircled by the Promontory Wall with a message of resolve, this near-century-old American Elm stands at the highest point of the Memorial as a symbol of strength and resilience.
Rescuer's Orchard: Like the people who rushed in to help, this army of trees stands guard over the Survivor Tree.
The Fence: Installed to enclose the crime scene, it quickly found a higher purpose. People express their sorrow by leaving tokens of love and hope.
Murrah Plaza Overlook: This surviving original area offers a breathtaking view of the Memorial and Museum grounds.
Survivor Wall: The Murrah Building's only remaining walls, with more than 600 names of those who survived the blast.
Field of Empty Chairs: Arranged in nine rows that reflect the floor where victims were working or visiting. 168 chairs are each etched with the name of a person killed. The 19 smaller chairs represent the children. The field matches the footprint of the Murrah Building."
I nearly didn't go today because the weather was so dismal. As I walked around the field, I realized that the weather was a perfect background for the purpose of my visit. Twenty-three years later, the horror of what happened here is still with me. It heralded a new era of terrorism attacks, both domestic and other. Today, it seems that attacks and mass shootings happen at such a high rate that we're no longer shocked by the violence. The Oklahoma City bombing reminds me of a more innocent time, when the horror of what happened still had the power to bring us to our knees and rally together to help.
I hope that someday we can move back towards that time, where this kind of horror brought out the best and not the worst in people. I can only hope.
One of our last beauties of South Dakota was the Dignity Statue at a rest area. A beautiful ending to a beautiful state. We'll miss it.
Of course, I couldn't talk about beauties without including my own canine beauty.
In our two years of fulltiming, we had yet to try boondocking, or dry-camping. We did our tent camping back in Custer, but taking the rig out with no hookups has been a little scary.
We found a place in Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, right outside the Badlands, that had quite a few boondockers camped on top of the canyon. The views were incredible and we decided to try it for two days. If it didn't work out, we still had our campsite in Wall to head back to.
We arrived late in the morning and found a perfect spot. We were overlooking the canyon and had noone within shouting distance. Of course, we chose the hottest day we'd had in two years, 98 degrees to go boondocking. The wind was blowing well, so we had cooling winds until about 3 pm when it started getting too hot, so we turned the generator on and blew some a/c our way.
Unfortunately, as the day progressed, the wind got stronger and stronger until we couldn't sit outside anymore. Sage and I were up all night, holding on as the wind kept blowing us to and fro. The next morning, it looked like we might have torn the slide toppers, so Dave decided it was time for us to go back to the campground before something else broke.
So, ended our time boondocking, or boonglamping as I call it. We learned some valuable lessons that we'll use the next time we try it.
IN the meantime, below are some pictures of the beautiful scenery we had. Enjoy - we did!
While we're out here, camping Louis in the wilds of the Badlands National Park, I thought it was a great time to mention the visit we paid to the infamous Wall Drug yesterday evening. Wall Drug has been an institution in Wall for many decades with its original highway signs and slogans. But I wanted to find out why it became an institution and found out it was all because of its free ice water.
Here is the story of Ted Hustead's success in his own words.
The Story of Wall Drug as told by Ted HusteadThe BeginningIt was December 1931. Dorothy and I had just bought the only drugstore in a town called Wall on the edge of the South Dakota Badlands. We'd been open a few days, and business had been bad.
I stood shivering on the wooden sidewalk. In this little prairie town there were only 326 people, 326 poor people.
Most of them were farmers who'd been wiped out either by the Depression or drought.
Christmas was coming, but there was no snow, no sparkling lights — just viciously cold air. Out on the prairie the cold wind whipped up dust devils. I could see a Tin Lizzie chugging along the two-laner. Suitcases were strapped to the running boards. Someone's going home for the holidays, I thought to myself. I wished they would stop, just for a cup of coffee, but they didn't. Here on Main Street, no one was out.
When I went back inside, I turned the light off over the soda fountain and joined Dorothy and our four-year-old son Billy in our "apartment", a room we'd made by stretching a blanket across the back of the store.
I had graduated pharmacy school in 1929, and after two years of working for other druggists, I knew that Dorothy and I had to find our own store. My father had just died, and he'd left me a $3,000 legacy. I'd work with that.
We were living in Canova, South Dakota, when we began our search, covering Nebraska and South Dakota in our Model T. As we searched, we were sure of two things: we wanted to be in a small town, and we wanted the town to have a Catholic church. In Canova, the nearest parish was 20 miles away. We wanted to be able to go to mass every day.
In Wall, where the drugstore was for sale, we found both a small town and a Catholic church. And when we talked to the priest, the doctor and the banker, they all told us that Wall was a good place with good people and that they wanted us to come live there.
Dorothy and I were excited about Wall, but when we got back home and told our families about the plan, we found them skeptical.
"That town is in the middle of nowhere," a cousin said, "and furthermore, everybody there is flat broke busted."
My father-in-law was understanding, but even he said, "You know, Wall is just about as Godforsaken as you can get."
The first few months went by and business didn't improve. "I don't mind being poor, " Dorothy said to me. "But I wonder if we can use our talents to their fullest here in Wall."
When Dorothy spoke of talents, my heart sank. My wife had a teaching degree and had taught literature in a Sioux Falls high school. Was I being fair, making her work in this prairie drugstore?
But the next minute Dorothy said, "We shouldn't get down, Ted. I'm sure we can use our abilities fully here. We can make this place work!"
Dorothy's optimism lifted me. I said to her, "Five years, Dorothy, that's what I think we should give to this store. Five good years, and if it doesn't work by then, we will. .."
"Don't worry about then," said Dorothy. "We'll make it go. And just think, Ted, pretty soon that monument at Mount Rushmore will be done, and then there will be an endless stream of people going by. I'm sure they'll visit us!"
I Saw the SignWe weren't starving, it's true, and we'd begun to make good friends in Wall. Our pastor, Father John Connolly, had become a tower of strength, helping us keep our faith strong. And we had worked hard to serve our neighbors well. Filling prescriptions for a sick child or an ailing farmer made me feel that I was doing something good. I also studied some veterinary medicine on my own so that I could help out farmers when their stock were ill.
But all of this didn't seem to be enough. I still spent too many hours looking out the store window for customers who never showed up. I felt I was wasting too much of my life watching people pass by. Maybe, as Dorothy's father had said, Wall was Godforsaken.
By the time the summer of 1936 came around, our business hadn't grown much at all. Our five-year trial would be up in December. What would we do then? Along with nine-year-old Billy, Dorothy and I now had a one-month-old daughter, Mary Elizabeth. What hardships was I putting them in store for?
One hot Sunday in July, though, a great change swept us up. It started quietly, in the deadening heat of an early afternoon, when Dorothy said to me, "You don't need me here, Ted. I'm going to put Billy and the baby down for a nap and maybe take one myself."
I minded the empty store. I swatted flies with a rolled-up newspaper. I stood in the door, and no matter where I looked, there was no shade, because the sun was so high and fierce.
An hour later Dorothy came back.
"Too hot to sleep?" I asked.
"No, it wasn't the heat that kept me awake," Dorothy said. "It was all the cars going by on Route 16A. The jalopies just about shook the house to pieces."
"That's too bad," I said.
"No, because you know what, Ted? I think I finally saw how we can get all those travelers to come to our store."
"And how's that?" I asked.
"Well, now what is it that those travelers really want after driving across that hot prairie? They're thirsty. They want water. Ice cold water! Now we've got plenty of ice and water. Why don't we put up signs on the highway telling people to come here for free ice water? Listen, I even made up a few lines for the sign:
"Get a soda . . . Get a root beer . . . turn next corner . . . Just as near . . . To Highway 16 & 14. . . Free Ice Water. . . Wall Drug."
It wasn't Wordsworth, but I was willing to give it a try. During the next few days a high school boy and I put together some signs. We modeled them after the old Burma Shave highway signs. Each phrase of Dorothy's little poem went on a 12 by 36 inch board. We'd space the boards out so the people could read them as they drove.
The next weekend the boy and I went out to the highway and put up our signs for free ice water. I must admit that I felt somewhat silly doing it, but by the time I got back to the store, people had already begun showing up for their ice water. Dorothy was running all around to keep up. I pitched in alongside her.
"Five glasses of ice water, please," a father called out.
"May I have a glass for Grandma?" a boy asked. "She's in the car."
We ran through our supply of cracked ice. I began chiseling more off the block.
"Say, good sir," one traveler said in a Scottish brogue, "we're going all the way to Yellowstone Park.
Would you mind filling this jug with your water?"
"Hey this free ice water is a great idea," said a salesman, sidling up onto a stool. "How about selling me an ice cream cone?"
For hours we poured gallons of ice water, made ice cream cones and gave highway directions. When the travelers started on their way again, refreshed and ready for new adventures, they gave us hearty thanks.
When the day was done, Dorothy and I were pooped. We sat in front of the store, watching the sun set, feeling a cool breeze come in off the prairie. In the summer twilight, Wall looked radiant. It looked like a good place to call home.
"Well, Ted," Dorothy said to me, "I guess the ice water signs worked."
TodayThey surely did work, and we've never really been lonely for customers since then. The next summer we had to hire eight girls to help us, and now that the store is in the good hands of Rick Hustead, Wall Drug draws up to twenty thousand people on a good summer day.
Free Ice Water. It brought us Husteads a long way and it taught me my greatest lesson, and that's that there's absolutely no place on God's earth that's Godforsaken. No matter where you live, you can succeed, because wherever you are, you can reach out to other people with something that they need!
Founder of Wall Drug Store
Excerpted by permission from Guideposts magazine. Copyright 1982
So, there it is. The story behind Wall Drug. Today, there are many facets to the Drug Store. There are many different stores, cafes and kitschy ornaments. But when we had dinner last night, there was the 5 cent coffee, waiting for us, as well as the donuts that are free to honeymooners and veterans.
I love the quirky, and this was definitely on my quirky list. It's places like this that make us do what we do - travel and learn about this country. Just another chapter in Our Simple Life.
We're here in Wall, SD for a week to explore the central and eastern part of South Dakota before we start heading south. While the infamous Wall Drug is literally one block from our campsite, we chose to spend today driving the scenic tour through the Badlands National Park.
"The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today."
It's very easy to believe that pre-historic animals roamed here. The entire landscape is one of unnatural beauty and unparalleled starkness. To survive in this area, one must be strong and able to handle anything. This area is not for the faint hearted. The name, Bad Lands says it all. The craggy peaks and miles of sandrock show centuries of wear from wind and rain. The Lakota gave this land its name, “Mako Sica,” meaning “land bad.”
It's fascinating to learn that this land has supported humans for more than 11,000 years. The earliest were Mammoth hunters, followed by nomadic tribes whose well being depended on buffalo. The Arikara was the first tribe to have inhabited the White River area, replaced in the 18th Century by Sioux or Lakota, who learned horsemanship from the Spaniards. But even they were only successful here for around 100 years.
Next up were french fur trappers, followed by soldiers, miners, cattle farmers and homesteaders, all who helped change the face of the prairie. In 1890, the Lakota were confined to reservations after the Wounded Knee Massacre and the old prairies began to adopt a modern look.
Warning: if prehistoric mountain ranges don't interest you, then the over 100 pictures below are probably not for you. Although Dave did get a shot of me standing on the edge of a canyon. Those of you who know me and my fear of heights will smile at this.
We enjoyed our three weeks here enormously and can't wait to come back for a repeat. Three weeks was not enough to see all the sights there is to see in this part of South Dakota. The landscape is so diverse - prairies, alpine meadows, forests, huge rocks and boulders. I think we saw everything except palm trees.
Our time in Custer was filled with wonderful memories - great food, great stores, great people and a great little town. Here are some pictures of our great little town.
We saved the best for last. Our last journey in western South Dakota was Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood.
Mt. Rushmore was incredible. From learning all about the sculptor to seeing it in person was overwhelming and a journey I'll never forget.
Below are some FAQs about Mt Rushmore that explain it so much better than I ever could:
Mt Rushmore Presidents – FAQs and Facts(Editor’s Note – This original post from December 2015 has been updated to reflect current Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone tour activities.)
Where is Mount Rushmore? Mount Rushmore was carved out of a granite rock face in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA.
Who Built Mount Rushmore? Gutzon Borglum, a master sculpture, conceived and carved Mount Rushmore Memorial. He was assisted by over 400 other rock carvers and explosive experts.
When Was Mount Rushmore Built? Construction of the Black Hills granite rock faced mountain near Keystone South Dakota began in 1927 when Borglum was 60 years old. The sculptures of the Mount Rushmore presidents were not completed when Borglum died in 1941.
Why Did They Carve Mount Rushmore? Master carver Gutzon Borglum created Mount Rushmore to commemorate America’s first 150 years as a free country. In his own words, Borglum states that the four Mount Rushmore presidents were chosen to, “Commemorate the founding, growth, preservation, and development to the United States of America.”
Who are the Mount Rushmore Presidents? Below, is a list of the four Mount Rushmore presidents’ names, along with the dates for their terms in office:
The United States of America came into being in 1776 and turned 240 years old on July 1st, 2016. Mount Rushmore represents the presidents from each important era spanning 150 years during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
George Washington: President Washington was selected because of his efforts towards democracy in the United States.
Thomas Jefferson: President Jefferson was chosen for his authorship of the Declaration of Independence.
Abraham Lincoln: President Lincoln was chosen because he was responsible for the end of slavery in the United States.
Theodore Roosevelt: President Roosevelt was a personal choice of Borglum’s and was chosen because of his contributions to business, conservation and the creation of the Panama Canal.
11 Mount Rushmore Facts You May Not Know
The sculpted heads of the four American presidents at Mount Rushmore are 60 feet (18.29 meters) high. Here are some answers to some of the most common questions plus a few other interesting facts about Mount Rushmore Monument:
Mount Rushmore Construction
The rock face carving required exceptional talent and precise craftsmanship, and it was definitely very difficult to complete the construction of this historical landmark. The construction workers first began sculpting Mount Rushmore with egg-shaped masses of rock. Huge boulders were cleared with the use of dynamite to carve out the general shapes of the Mount Rushmore presidents’ heads. To finish the sculpture, Gutzon Borglum and his crew had to remove approximately 400 thousand tons of rock from the site.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial rests on more than 500 hectares of land and is part of the Mount Rushmore National Park, under the management of the National Park Service. Nearly 3 million tourists visit Mount Rushmore annually.
We drove through Keystone and Deadwood and I was not impressed at all. Every hotel, store and restaurant was filled with slot machines and other casino games. Not being interested in gambling, we didn't stop - just took a few pictures and drove through. Although, as usual, the scenery on the way there was spectacular.