05.08.2018 - 05.10.2018
We spent the last two days exploring the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. I have memories of driving through as a child but it was so special to spend some real time there and share it with Scott.
Interior South Dakota
We stayed in Interior just south of the park in a wonderful little motel.
It's not very big. One gas station, two bars, and a grocery store.
We ate at the bar and grill. They had six things on the menu (burger, bison burger, crispy chicken, hot dog, steak sandwich, and pizza) and three sides (fried cheese curds, onion rings, and French fries) for a possible of 18 different combinations. There was no veggie option, needless to say. While it may not seem very attractive as a destination, it's three minutes from the park and it's out in the open plains. It feels authentic and real. The first night we stopped into the gas station, which also has a few tables and sells beer and a few snacks, and there was a group of young people, cowboys (yes the real deal) and some women and they were planning for the 4th of July Rodeo over Bud long necks. You don't get that by staying in a chain motel off the Interstate and eating at Applebees.
Badlands National Park and the Baja Off-road Area
We spent the first day driving through the park, doing some hikes, and doing some off-roading in the Baja off-road area. We saw beautiful spring flowers, wildlife (the prairie dogs were my favorite), and vast open country. Early May is a great time to visit. We had the park virtually to ourselves. But it was soooo dry. The ground was parched and cracked. Overnight it rained a bit and the land changed so much. The colors were so much more vibrant and the mud stuck to your shoes like stepping in slimy concrete. Check out this video, the last part is the second day and you can really see the difference.
Buffalo Gap National Grasslands
We ended going through the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands. The wind was blowing 20-30 mph. Check out this video and make sure you have the sound on. The wind was whipping! Only the hardy survive out here.
Then we detoured through Scenic SD. It's virtually a dead town. No wonder I couldn't find a place to stay there!
This is a fascinating place to visit. It's about as far from Washington DC as I can imagine getting. It was a great introduction to what's to come.
But as always, we moved on. Today is kinda cloudy and cold so we took ourselves to a nice lunch in Rapid City (I absolutely had to have a vegetable or two that wasn't fried and a glass - or two - of decent wine) and are passing the afternoon in a coffee shop aka my office.