Just as I remembered it!

As a small girl of about eight on a cross-country family vacation to the West, travel was exciting. Though not quite as crazy as National Lampoon’s Vacation, there were definitely some funny stories to be told. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop at the largest Ball of Twine or the sod house but I do remember our stop at the famous Wall Drug. At the time, I remember this drug store seeming ENORMOUS. I remember lots of little shops each with interesting things I’d never seen at exactly eye level.

My dad said my sister and I could pick out one stuffed animal each. I remember thinking at that moment, “this is the best trip ever.” I hastily picked a regular teddy bear, and my twin sister the same one – but probably in a different color. That’s how twins work when you’re young. It’s much different now but growing up, everything we had was the same just in a different color.

But, I digress. I remember my dad took one look at the plain, run-of-the-mill teddy and ordered us to get something related to South Dakota. I didn’t think to make the argument that the teddy bear was actually named after Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th President and a long-time resident of the Dakota Territory. Honestly, I didn’t even know that at the time, but how cool would that argument have been 8 year-old me versus dad! He was right though, I probably would have donated that old teddy bear a few years later.

Instead, my sister and I picked a kitten-sized stuffed buffalo with two shades of brown and it was such a great decision that I still have all these years later – yes Dad, you were right! Currently, it is in storage but I will be sure to give the buffalo a squeeze when I unpack it after the trip.

So, I was really excited to return to see Wall Drug again 20-something years later (or more.) I had mentioned to Kimmer several times during our hikes at the Badlands how I couldn’t wait for Wall Drug. We made the drive to Wall, SD and the anticipation built as I kept reading the signs for all the attractions at the drug store – free ice water, a chapel, dinosaur, and much more. Kimmer was starting to realize this isn’t just a Walgreens.

We found a parking space and hiked over to the store. The street in front of the place was packed with people and parked cars, but still resembled the old west town. We went into entrance 4 – ENTRANCE FOUR!? Okay, this place is still pretty big even for a full-sized adult. We explored the many gift shops buying souvenirs for friends and for ourselves, and spent some time watching the animatronic cowboy singers behind glass.

We then went outside to explore the newest addition to Wall Drug – an outdoor picnic area with lots of photo opportunities with the giant jackalope, a scale Mt. Rushmore or a Wild West wagon. There were additional shops beyond that area but none of them really interested us.

On our drive back home, I asked Kimmer what he thought about this road side attraction. He didn’t seem as impressed, but wouldn’t go as far as to say it was a tourist trap, preferring to call it a tourist oasis. Fair enough, since that’s what the original owners probably envisioned.

Wall Drug was the same as it was in my mind 20 years ago, and I am so happy that it remained true to the originality that put Wall, South Dakota on the map in the first place.