I lied earlier when I said that Storm and I did not have the commitment needed to visit the underground launch facility at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. After everyone left to return to NC, Storm and I found an RV site nearer to the visitor center. We got up bright and early and arrived at the center by 6:45am to stand in line for the 8:00am opening and ticket release (6 daily tours, 6 people per tour, 36 total tickets – according to the visitor center folks you gotta be there early). Unbelievably there were already 10 people in line ahead of us! Procuring our tickets, we thought we would be going down in a missile silo, but instead the tour was of the underground launch facility that controlled the Delta flight’s rockets. Our ranger tour guide was not born when the door was closed on this site’s operation and she made me feel fossilized when she referred the the 1993 closure as though it was ancient history.
We headed back to Ellsworth AFB where just outside the main gate, the South Dakota Air and Space Museum is located. We learned that an $8 bus tour was available at this museum that included a ride through the base and a tour of their Missile Man II silo but by the time we got there we had exhausted our missile silo dreams and decided instead to just tour the free museum. Celebrating South Dakota Aviators, this museum poignantly shares the lives of these pioneers and has displayed outside a beautifully landscaped garden full of retired warbirds. My favorite display honored a WASP P-51 Mustang pilot named Vi Cowden who parachuted with the Golden Knights on her 89th birthday (my kind of woman!)- checkout her story by clicking here. After the museum visit we were starving and stumbled onto the Fuji Sake and Sushi Bar in the Rushmore Mall. From 3-6pm, they have sushi and drink Happy Hour – buy one drink, get one free – BEST sushi bar ever!!