a disheartening experience with the tourism industry
The USA has come up with some great tourist attractions. The national parks are some of the most majestic outdoor spaces in the country, Las Vegas has been built into a monument of tourist folklore, not to mention the massive Disney resorts that are sprinkled across the coasts and Florida.
South Dakota, however, has largely failed at creating successful tourist attractions with the exception
of the Bad Lands which, to be fair, no one created.
Madeline, her sister and I fell into the “See America First” trap. We bought into the idea that as good and informed citizens, we should travel the country and thus see all that America has to offer. We planned a cross-country-and-back car ride.
From the beginning, I was obsessed with going to South Dakota. Afterall – there’s Mount Rushmore! And a mammoth excavation site! And a corn palace!
The Corn Palace turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments that a Halloween-lover (such as myself) could encounter. We pulled up outside the so-called Palace with images of a great, world-class corn maze. Or at least free popcorn.
Well, what we found was a hollowed out school-gym with ears of red and yellow corn hot-glued onto the wall at different, pseudo-decorative angles. There were some wall didactics, too, and a basketball game going on somewhere inside the building. Bad news.
We left very, very vexed. The only redeeming quality in the visit, since none of us are fond of corn dogs, was the ice cream shop across the street, which luckily turned out not to be a mirage.
Afterwards we headed off to the rest of the great South Dakota tourist attractions – Wall Drug, “1880s town
,” the Crazy Horse memorial… But none of them turned out quite like we were expecting. Not even Mount Rushmore, where you had to pay $15 to get a full-frontal view of Theodore Roosevelt’s face receding into stone and the mountain goats that populate it.
If, after seeing Mount Rushmore, you want to turn the tape over for “History,” Side B, you can travel about an hour to the Crazy Horse memorial, where you’ll have to pay a similar fee to see the unfinished face of the Lakota chief, whose race was decimated by all the guys immortalized over at Mount Rushmore.
So, anyway South Dakota itself proved to be quite distopic when it comes to Great American tourist attractions, each destination costing around $10 for entry and a lifetime of regrets for the time you waste seeing what’s inside.