This morning we went to the Minuteman Missile Launch Command Center for a tour of Delta 01. This center was operational from the 60s to the 90s during the Cold War with personnel from Ellsworth AFB. Eight people would be on duty at a time, usually for a three day period, on rotation. The missileers who were the "key turners" were all officers but the others were non-commissioned military.
We took an elevator down 31 feet and entered a steel door about 18 inches thick.
Our guide explained the normal sequence for an actual launch. There were many checks and balances. The keys to be turned (there is no red button) were 12 feet apart so that it was physically impossible for one person to be able to turn them both. To this day, a military aide accompanies the president with launch codes. It is referred to as the football. We were told there are about 450 missiles now but if Obama signs the reduction into law, that number will be decreased.
Then we went to Wall Drugs. Who would imagine you could spend four hours in a drug store? But this is no ordinary drug store … it is a café, ice cream parlor, souvenir shop, museum, chapel, playground, gold mining, paintings, etc. in addition to the pharmacy.
The Travelers' Chapel
It was started in 1931 by Dorothy and Ted Hustead. After five lean years Dorothy had the idea to offer free ice water to travelers. They painted Burma Shave type signs advertising this and put them on the highway. By the next summer they had to hire eight waitresses to handle the distribution of the free water. The rest is history and they both lived long lives and raised very successful children. Their grandchildren run Wall Drugs today.
We all had our 5 cent cup of coffee and Rick received a free homemade donut because he is a veteran. Ted had to buy his. I passed but they sure smelled good!
The only thing I bought was a compass for $2 because Ted’s indicator in the truck doesn’t work all the time anymore. I’m a terrific map reader but I have no sense of direction. I felt it was a good investment. Right before we left, Rick and Brenda had ice cream but Ted and I helped ourselves to some of that free ice water. They'll even fill up your water jug.
We took the Badlands Loop Road home where there are 14 overlooks. This is an amazing park and I'll post pictures next time. Sometimes you are down in the valley looking up at the rocks, other times you are up looking down into the canyons. Still other times you are traveling level with rocks emerging from the meadows covered with prairie grasses. It is all very beautiful.
We came home to a brisket for dinner that I had put in the crockpot. The weather is still very pleasant and the evenings are cool. Ted and I took a walk to see other views of the Badlands from the campground. We stopped to feed the horses some apples. Ted has a pail full of ones he has picked up off the ground to feed them the rest of the week.