Kent and Carol - Mobile travel blog

Devil's Tower in distance.

Devil's Tower, WY

Man climbing the granite rock tower.

Prairie Dog Town

Minuteman II Missile in Silo

House above Delta-01 Launch Control

Underground Launch Control

Thickness of wall of outer chamber.

Left- door of inner room. White cylinder is shock absorber. Right- Wall...

Badlands National Park




Saturday morning, June 2, Carol and I head out from Vancouver, BC. The border crossing into the US took us about an hour just waiting in line. We landed for the night at Issaquah, WA a little ways outside of Seattle. The west coast and Washington State in particular had the highest priced fuel. We had to pay $4.29 per gallon for Diesel. The farther east we went the price of Diesel dropped down to $3.35 per gallon right here in Missouri. Sunday night our stop was in Moses Lake, WA. Monday and Tuesday we stayed in Missoula, MT for a little R and R and to get some laundry done. We also did another stop at Famous Dave’s BBQ one of my favorites. Wednesday at Reed Point, MT and Thursday at Buffalo, WY and then Friday a short drive into Sundance WY and arrived there by noon. That afternoon we took the Jeep on a 30-mile trip up to see Devils’ Tower National Park. There sticking out of the ground is an impressive piece of rock. The tower rises 867 feet from its base and stands 1,267 feet above the river and 5,112 feet above sea level. The area of its teardrop-shaped top is 1.5 acres. The diameter of its base is 1,000 feet. Also in the park is a Prairie Dog Town, which was fun to watch the little critters.

Saturday and Sunday we stayed in an RV park southwest of Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Sunday morning I left the RV early, at 7:30 am so that I could get to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site near I-90 just north of one of the entrances of Badlands Nat. Park (exit 131). I wanted to be there by 8:00 am because that is when they start handing out tickets for the tour of the underground Launch Control Facility. They only take six people at a time because that is all that will fit in the elevator and the small control room. You get there at 8:00 for the first tour at 9:30 and I got a ticket for the 10:00 tour. It turns out the real tour is four miles back west on I-90. They hand out the tickets at the visitor center and then tell you to drive to where the real tour is located. Now, I have two hours to kill so the ranger at the visitor center suggested a visit to a Minuteman Missile Silo that is eleven miles further west of the Launch Control Facility. When built, they wanted the Launch Control several miles from where the missile was launched. So, with time to kill I go visit the missile silo. There was no one there but you enter the fenced area with a map that points out the details of the silo. On the map are instructions on how to use your cell phone to dial a number and the voice on the phone gives you more details. There was a missile in the silo, which was just a model. I then drove back to the Launch Control Facility to await my 10:00 tour.

The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union in the 50s and 60s caused the US to build these underground missile silos in several western states in the early 60s. The Launch Control Facility I visited controlled ten different missiles and there were 15 launch control centers just in South Dakota that is 150 missile silos just in South Dakota. The solid fuel missiles with their nuclear warhead were pointed to fly over the North Pole and arrive at their target in 30 minutes. At this launch control center there is a house at ground level that housed 12 people and 31 feet below that house is the actual control center. There is a room within a highly reinforced concrete chamber with walls that are four-feet thick. Inside this chamber is the thick walled room that is built on shock absorbers. It was built so that if attacked with a bomb the men inside the control room should survive. I guess they didn’t care about the people that were living in the house above ground. Only two men manned the control room at any time, all the time and they had to work a 24-hour shift. In 1991 the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed between Soviet Union and the US and this began the reduction of nuclear arms. It was deactivated and then in 1999 this site was given to the National Park System.

After that interesting tour I went back to the RV to get Carol and we spent the rest of the day driving through Badlands National Park. The park road goes parallel to I-90 from exit 110, near Wall, SD to exit 131. We drove about ¾ of the road taking pictures at each viewing site and then returned back to our RV park near the SE corner of the Badlands National Park.

Monday, we drove to Mitchell, SD, the home of the Corn Palace but did not visit it this second time. Tuesday we stopped at Onawa, IA and then Wednesday, June 13, we drove on into Kansas City/Liberty, MO.

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