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Family Tradition

It was the summer of 1975 and my family, my grandparents, and I were traveling to the Black Hills of South Dakota. All six of us were jammed into a bronze, 1965 Galaxy 500, equipped with a 390 four barrel. Our luggage was crammed in between us. Even though the car had plenty of power, we werenít allowed to drive beyond 55 mph because Grandpa insisted the engine would overheat. It was an unbearably hot summer, and of course Grandpa wouldnít allow the use of the air conditioner because the engine was sure to overheat. Itís a good thing they donít make cars like they used to.Wall Drug circa 1940 - Courtesy of Wall Drug

We sat in the Galaxy listening to a scratchy a.m. radio station. Dad describing the incredible sights we were soon to see overshadowed the radio. Alís Oasis, Bear Country, the Corn Palace, Dinosaur Park, Flintstone Park, Mount Rushmore, Reptile Gardens, and Wall Drug. The list went on and on. There were so many sights to see! I didnít know what to expect.

Then the unthinkable happened. It was something that had potential to ruin the entire trip. Due to the fact that the air conditioner was not in use, the windows were wide open. This gave bugs the wonderful opportunity to enter the vehicle. Apparently, Dad was allergic to bees. We found out the hard way. A bee flew into his shirt. The car veered to the right and left as he attempted to dispose of the invading insect. We slid from side to side as no one used seat belts in those days. The next 100 miles werenít too fun. Dad became violently sick and his abdomen swelled up like a balloon. Luckily, he recovered and we were able to continue the trip.

As things began to improve, my brother and I saw a glimpse of the future. The roadside brochures in our midst were great. There were so many interesting colors, pictures, and words. The best thing of all is that they were free. The details of the brochures prepared us for each of our visits during the trip. The excitement of this trip is still vivid in my mind some thirty years later.

Over the years I have been to The Black Hills at least fifteen times. The attractions are still enjoyable, but the excitement of my first visit is long gone. Ironically, within the last two months, I have developed an increased interest in The Black Hills because my immediate family is planning a trip to western South Dakota next summer. I canít wait!

Times have changed. Dad always contacted area Chamber of Commerce for travel information and brochures. Today, my family and I can check out the Internet for information. Even though the method of gathering information about vacation destinations has changed, the joy of the vacation has not.

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