Into the Badlands: Eclipse Trip – Day 2
I slept alright. The next morning was cool and foggy. Had some of the motel breakfast. They had quite the array to choose from: thick biscuits, home cooked eggs and sausage casserole, delicious creamy gravy, pancakes, cereal, fruit, cinnamon buns, coffee, tea, orange juice, and more were my options for breakfast. Sadly I wasn't too hungry as my body isn't really use to being awake/eating before 8am. I had some of the casserole and a biscuit with gravy for dipping, and man was it good. After that we headed out around 8 or so. Toru took the wheel for the drive to the Badlands, which took about an hour and a half.
Pictures really don’t do it justice. It’s stunning. Rocky hills and valleys sprawling for miles and miles, almost as far as the eye can see. The place is gigantic. We stopped by the visitors center, which had some neat exhibits about how the Badlands were formed, what type of plants and animals lived in the park, and it's history. I got a couple of cute postcards as souvenirs as well.
There are grasslands in the park which we decided not to tour, as the drive would have been too long and we were an a time schedule. We did pass through a small bit of the park that was relatively flat where a city of prairie dogs resided. We pulled over to get a closer look at them. It was quite comical to see that as there were prairie dog mewing at one another. there were also a couple of coyotes meandering around the many prairie dog holes, hoping to catch their next meal.
After leaving the Badlands we continued on our way. During our drive we noticed plenty of neat billboards along the way. One Toru noted was the Wall Drugstore that had been advertising for miles. Another one that I liked was one for the Firehouse Brewery which had a fire truck parked near each of their billboards.
We decided to stop in the Wall Drugstore for lunch. I also bought some necklaces, one for me and one for my mom. I also snagged a free South Dakota travel guide (which would be seriously handy later on). We then switched over and I drove to Mt. Rushmore. We drove through some cute mountain towns too, very cool and interesting, kind of wished we stopped in one, though they looked more like tourist traps. I had a budget in place for doing day activities and seeing the sites, which was $10 a day, excluding food of course. Good food is always worth the money. 😀
Mount Rushmore was pretty cool. I can't remember how much it was, or if it was free, but the parking pass they give you is good for a few months. The entrance to the monument has all these flags hanging from pillars that line the walk way, one for each state. I remarked to Toru how I sometimes mix up the Chicago flag for the state of Illinois flag. We decided to look for the Illinois flag amongst the others, and lo and behold, guess who also had the Chicago flag in mind. lol.
Anyway, the sculptor’s studio is what’s really interesting about the monument. Its where you can learn about how it was made and the technology used to make it. After touring the studio we took a walk on the wooden walk way around the monument. Aside from the monument though, the other visitors were pretty interesting as well. There were people from different countries, veterans, kids on a field trip, and plenty of families toting along a couple of children with them. These two kids in particular who were on the walk way with us kept leaving "fart bombs" as a prank for weary visitors to suffocate in. Considering the amount of times these two boys were successful at catching Toru and I off guard, I was both impressed, and worried about their digestive health. (One of their "bombs" pictured below.)
After we've seen our fill of giant presidential heads, I was abit done with driving in the mountains for the day, so toru took over. Just outside the monument we found this beautiful little pull off spot over looking the black hills which I had to take a pictures of.
While we were driving somewhere just in, or before Wyoming, Toru got a caught in a speed trap town and got a speeding ticket. We then drove into the night again and decided to stop at Indian Campground in Buffalo. Got there past 12am with a few other weary travelers. Nice place with showers and laundry machines for about $32 for a tent spot. I was sleeping in the car before we got there and was pretty out of it so Toru mostly set up camp himself. Which I felt pretty bad about. Either way I was grateful to be sleeping on an air mattress instead of inside the car.
It's really a wonder that we started out the day looking over infinite rocky canyons, then driving through high hills to see giant stone carvings before sunset. I recommend visiting both these sites, especially the Badlands. That place is truly breath taking.
Next Week . . .
Driving through the Bighorn National Forest and Yellowstone National Park. Want to see more of the trip? Click HERE.