Friedman Acceptability Measure: 6
A young hooligan had left our motel alarm clock on for 6am, so we were rudely jolted from sweet Lady Sleep's embrace 2 hours early. I fell instantly back asleep. Breakfast was spent at Wall Drug, where the Cafe was indeed open. Coffee is $0.05, and, ex post, my realized valuation for the so-called coffee is $0.00. The orange juice was from concentrate. However, the French toast was adequately cinnamony.
Wall Drug is a drugstore only in name. Most of its many acres are filled with kitschy souvenirs, including a room full of teeshirts, and a room full of crap I can't even describe. Jackalope heads were available for $69.99. I had never heard of the jackalope, and Friedman didn't seem to have a great grasp of it. I kept asking him whether the jackalope was real or imaginary, and he kept saying things like "I don't know." Then today he said "it's very rare, like the yeti." But I didn't know what the yeti was, so I didn't really take the hint.
Speaking of jackalopes, here is a picture of Dr. Friedman riding the 6-foot jackalope that inhabits Wall Drug's spacious back yard:
He's a big boy now.
Next we saw a decomissioned Minuteman II nuclear missile command center and silo. The command center is generally only open to 2 small tours per day, and these tours fill up very quickly. Lucky for us June 21, 2007 was one of 2 open houses of the year. The rangers giving the tours had worked as missiliers during the cold war, and they had folksy accents and humorous anecdotes to boot. To this day, they can neither confirm nor deny the existence of nuclear payloads on their particular missiles.
After a brief stop at the nearby Ellsworth Airforce Base Museum, we stopped by the Badlands National Park, which is pretty impressive. A picture says more than my words would.
Then we drove several hours to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where we encountered a very talkative truck driver at the visitor station. He was with his "wife," whom Friedman and I both initially assumed to be some sort of highway woman, who spoke nary a word. One of the more interesting things we learned from this Mississipian was that trucks are easier to slow down when they are heavily laden (John Mcphee makes no mention of this in "Uncommon Carriers"...). He also said that he had recently gotten a German Shepherd, because he could easily take 1 attacker on, and probably 2, but 3 or 4 would be a challenge. When Friedman finally extricated us from the conversation, the trucker urged us to embrace our Lourd and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We assured him we would.
Finally, in case anyone was worried that Friedman and I are not actually on this trip together, here is visual proof:
From Medora, ND, good luck, and good night.