Thursday, June 15 (continued)
This post is a bit of “catch up” from the early part of the trip. The scenic route through the Badlands has its western outlet in the town of Wall. Anyone who has traveled any distance through South Dakota on interstate 90 knows about Wall Drug, because there are billboards advertising it for 100 miles in either direction. We had to stop to take a look. Here’s a picture of Owen at Wall Drug, holding Ralph. More on Ralph later.
Wall Drug is about 1 part Drug store and 5 parts 3-ring circus. They have all kinds of departments there, including a cafeteria, an ice cream shop, leather goods, hats, T-shirts and curios. I can’t begin to describe everything. I don’t have any photos because it was too darn crowded. The place was swarming with tourists just like us.
But it isn’t Wall Drug and the crowds that are most memorable to us about Wall, SD. What we remember most is the lunch we had. Crowds not being our favorite experience (see my July 10 post about the sort of campground Larry prefers) we decided to have lunch at the trailer, in the RV parking lot for Wall Drug.
There was lots of room in the lot, so we opened our kitchen slide out and the awning over the kitchen. I went into the camper to make sandwiches for everyone. I handed out some sandwich plates with chips for the guys, along with some ice teas from the fridge. Then I made my sandwich and sat on the steps to eat it. The guys finished their lunch first, of course. Owen got back in the truck so he could play his video game, and Larry walked his dog so she would be happy on the drive to Rapid City. I finished my lunch and made sure everything was put away where it wouldn’t bounce and slide around as we traveled. Then I slid the kitchen back into the trailer, folded up the steps, locked the trailer door, and joined the guys who were already in the truck. We started off for I90, carefully weaving our way between the other RVs in the lot.
Suddenly a bunch of tourists started waving their arms at us and yelling.
Have you spotted the cause of their excitement? It was that awning, still fully deployed. Unfortunately, the excited tourists got our attention just as the awning hit the ladder mounted on the side of a class A RV (that’s the big tour bus type).
Larry stopped and backed up, but the damage was done. There was a tear in our awning fabric and the forward extension arms were bent and the mounting bracket was twisted and slightly pulled away from the side of the trailer. No way were we going to roll the awning back in now. The good news was that the other RV didn’t sustain any damage except for some threads of our awning fabric caught in their ladder rung.
It took Owen and Larry about an hour to take the awning apart and throw away the deformed extension arms; all with the help of a wonderful Canadian gentleman who kept reminding us that it could have been worse. Well, Larry knew that, but it didn’t make him feel any less frustrated and angry. I, of course, felt horribly stupid and careless. Looking back at it now, it is just another example of how what we see is never all that is there – vision is very selective, based on expectations. I didn’t see the awning overhead as I locked up and hurried to join the guys; Larry didn’t see the awning flapping in his rear view mirror as he tried to thread his way between the parked RVs; but it was there, plain as day.
We kept the awning fabric and the mounting brackets, but trashed the rest. We will replace the awning at some point in the future, when we can stay in one place long enough for the parts to come in. I don’t have pictures of this part of our visit to Wall either, because I couldn’t see the humor in it then. But hey, no one was injured, only minimal damage done, really, and only an hour’s delay in our trip. We’ve heard a few stories of similar stories of near misses and minor disasters from other campers since then, and realize our helpful Canadian was right: it could have been much worse. Now, the running joke when we do a final “take off” inspection is “Did you remember to take the awning in?”