4 Places You Can’t Miss on I – 90

Shane and I were driving west on Interstate 90 in Minnesota, heading in the general direction of Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Needless to say, we still had quite a distance to go. If you look at a map, you’ll notice that I – 90 goes from Boston to Seattle, so you might spend a lot of time zoning out, daydreaming, or complaining of boredom. Questions will get thrown around the cabin. Some are classic: “Are we there yet?” and “We’ve been driving for 12 hours, when can we take a break?” Other questions are not so typical. If you are on I – 90 and find yourself asking an unusual question, I bet you’re near one of these places worth stopping. Get your camera ready.

Unexpected question #1: What is that green thing?

If you’re in Blue Earth, MN, you’re probably looking at the Jolly Green Giant statue. I am the ant-sized thing on the platform.

Wikipedia tells me he singlehandedly brings 10,000 visitors to the area. Good thing we stopped, because until driving through Blue Earth, MN, I never knew that the vegetable company is from Minnesota. That’s a relief. Now I won’t have to lie awake at night anymore wondering where those cans and frozen bags of vegetables are coming from.

Unexpected question #2: Why does corn need a palace?

If you are similarly mystified, you are probably in Mitchell, SD, looking at this.

Um, not only can I hardly answer that question, I also can’t tell you much about the place because there isn’t much to tell other than that it was built in 1892 as sort of a shrine to corn to show off what wonderful soil the area had. The outside of the building is covered in corn, and it gets a new corn theme each year. Inside is kind of like a corn expo. There are various rooms with various corn motifs. I always laugh when I think about the corn palace, because I actually knew about it before we stopped off there believe it or not. My dad one time did a road trip with his parents and four siblings across the USA, and whenever he would reminisce he would always tell me, “Make sure you don’t miss that Corn Palace.”

http://www.cornpalace.org/

Unexpected question #3: What do they sell at Wall Drug Store? And what’s with the billboards?

Wall Drug Store is so hyped up. There are hundreds of billboards on Route 90 leading up to this place. I’ve even heard from other travelers that there is an advertisement for Wall Drug Store in Kenya. I can’t confirm that for sure, but I have actually heard that from more than one party. I personally believe this claim, and you will, too, after you witness the spectacle of the billboards leading you there. When you get there after all the anticipation, you find out it’s pretty much a glorified Cracker Barrel. You can eat there, and you can buy every midwest-style souvenir you could ever want. Apparently back in the day they were giving out free water at “Wall Drug” in order to entice people to go in there. Since Wall Drug was on the way into the Badlands, we did indeed fill up our Nalgenes and water jugs there.

http://www.walldrug.com/

Unexpected question #4: Really? The center of the USA is in a cow pasture?

There seems to be some controversy over where the center of the US is. Wikipedia says the geographic center of the contiguous 48 states is somewhere in Kansas, while this cow pasture near Belle Fourche, SD, reportedly seems to be the center if one somehow calculates in Alaska and Hawaii. I didn’t major in geography or anything related to that, but I would think that adding in Alaska and Hawaii would cause more than the minor shift (relatively speaking) from Kansas to South Dakota. Either way, it was something to do for fifteen minutes.

If none of these roadside attractions are exciting for you, then have fun watching this out your window for several days.

what South Dakota looks like

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