Who hasn’t heard of Wall Drug? It is known as the mecca of all tourist traps and will sell you anything and everything you could possibly need.
Opened in 1931, in the middle of nowhere, Wall Drug is part shopping mall, part pharmacy, chapel, donut shop, amusement park, and various gift shops all in one. It’s huge, you don’t really realize how huge until you get there. Oh and then there is the Western Art Museum inside as well.
In addition to being famous for their ability to sell everything under the sun and numerous photo ops they are also known for providing free water. Back in the day, the owners thought they would draw more customers by advertising free ice water to anyone that came in. And, to this day it’s still a plenty.
It’s really a genius place. You drive up and say to yourself, “OK, I am only going to go in, take a few photos, get some free water and leave. Be back in the car in 20 minutes.” An hour and a half later, you are still there. How? Well, that’s the mystery and beauty of it all.
As we were heading to get our 5 cent coffee (yes, 5 cents) and then head out the door, Willy approached us and started asking us simple questions like: “where are you from?” “where to next?” We spent the next forty minutes talking to Willy and his wife Martha.
Talk about interesting and incredible people. Willy (in his early 60s) is originally from Germany, has been traveling on and off the last 20 years, but “full time” for the last 10. He bought a German army vehicle that was used as an ambulance and tore out the entire inside and made himself a little home on wheels. He has their bed, kitchen area complete with a stove and sink as well as a bathroom with toilet and shower. In addition to Willy and Martha, along for their journeys are Scottie (their dog) and Georgie (their cat).
We were absolutely blown away hearing of all the travels Willy has done, all with his dog and cat and as of 6 and a half years ago – with Martha. They have been all over the world, exploring and living their dreams.
We were lucky enough to spend some time in their home. It is pretty remarkable what he has done with the vehicle and how easily they find it living out of the van. They have everything they need, and, each other.
The stories Willy shared with us of his travels were mind blowing and life changing. He will tell a story, your eyes popping out and wondering how in the world is that possible, and then leave you with a short silence followed by him simply stating with a smile: “This is my life.”
We so wish we could have spent more time with Martha and Willy – and Scottie and Georgie, but we were both separately needing to get on the road to our next destinations. We hope this was not a once in a lifetime opportunity to have spent some time with Martha and Willy and so hope we will be passing your van in the near future – we will honk, all pull over and share more stories and coffee. And maybe, if we are really lucky some of Martha’s mexican cuisine Willy so joyfully boasts as the “best, best, best.”