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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Road Trip 3: South Dakota/ Badlands National Park

    South Dakota is not a state I had thought much about before planning for this trip. I always thought that South Dakota would just be a desolate wasteland for some reason. Surprisingly, I found it quite beautiful. We tried to get a few pictures of things that I thought were different from MA and that struck me as peaceful. The speed limit is 80 so the picture quality was not wonderful.  

 When I first saw this yellow, I wasn't sure what it was. Sunflowers! I have seen scraggly looking sunflowers here that are not very impressive. I have a new appreciation for them now.

 We had to pass through the Badlands to get to our "cabin." We visited the next day.

 This picture was taken by a really nice biker woman on her way to Sturgis.
 Road tripping is messy. We had a colorful collection of smooshed insects all over out car by this point (and this is after rain). It was pretty disgusting.

We decided to try something a little different on this leg of the trip. We contemplated camping but I got freaked out about tornado warnings in the area. (Tornado+tent= not good)  This place had teepees, campsites, cabins and a small motel. We decided to try the cabin, which was a one room, air-conditioned cabin with bunk beds, a table and a chair. We just wanted a place to stay so it wasn't a huge deal. Unfortunately, here's what it looked like:

    The window barely opened. The AC didn't work. The table was broken. On a good note, the window did open. It wasn't too hot. There was a ceiling fan. The bottom bunk on the right was a double bed. No bugs but a few huge spiders.
 Our view from the cabin/campground

      There were a few cool things about where we stayed. 1) As we were pulling into the campground, I saw some people standing by the teepees and some Indian headdresses hanging up by a picnic table. I kind of assumed they were something touristy so I didn't pay too much attention. After unpacking some things into the cabin, I heard someone amplified through a speaker so I decided to go see what was going on. The people who were standing by the teepees was a group called Abbey Libby's Dance Club. They are Lakota Sioux from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, The dance troupe was started by a man named Ernest Libby after he noticed a lack of dancers in his community and a lot of children wanting to learn to dance. He travels to different places and performs different types of dances in hopes to "give other a passion in their own culture, to give our children our culture back and to renew our understanding of what it means to be Lakota."
     I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures of this. Matt and David went to find dinner while Timmy and I watched the dancers and listened to questions and answers about various topics. As a music teacher, I really enjoy learning things from an authentic source. I could watch a video of Native American dance, but it was much more interesting to me to see what was authentic to the Sioux and what dances were influenced by other parts of the United States.
     2) I mentioned that one thing Timmy and I were looking forward to was seeing the night sky. This was a clear night and the stars were beautiful. It got dark really late so I wish we had tried to look again after midnight, but we thought we'd see the sky at Yellowstone. (Unfortunately, we did not. It was cloudy every night we were there)
     In the morning, we went to explore the Badlands a bit. I knew I would not last long outside due to the heat and my condition with the sun. I brought a lot of water in hopes of not getting sick. This was across from the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, which was pretty neat too. (Also got some nice postcards. Thanks National Park Services!)

 After exploring the visitor center, we drove through the park, stopping to "hike" (take a small walk in my case) and check out the area. I love this picture of David. He was doing the Junior Ranger booklet. If you ever visit one of the National Parks, see if you can get the Junior Ranger books, they were pretty interesting. Both boys enjoyed doing them. At this point, he was playing Bingo and looking for: mud, stream bed*, pronghorn antelope*. window*, sunshine*, yucca*, rabbit, rain, wind, wildflower*, painted turtle, cliff swallow*, turkey vulture*, bison, clouds*, sandstone*, prickly pear cactus*, fossil*, cottonwood*, prairie dog*, snow, trail*, bighorn sheep*,  and grass*.He found the ones with the *s)

It was SO hot and dry. My skin felt like bacon cooking.

 I hate this picture of me but I remember Matt pointing me out to David and commenting that he saw an albino something or other so it was kind of amusing.
 Secretly I was waiting for rattlesnakes to be lurking around all of these rocks.

 We took this for the Werth family.

This was one of the hiking trails. It was rated difficult. It's a short trail but the terrain and increase of elevation make it tough. Since we don't often hike as a family and I have plantar fasciitis in both feet, David and I went up a little and let Matt and Tim go a little further.

 Little mom and David
 Views from the top

 Tim the photographer/adventurer.

      I have heard that you can't go to South Dakota without stopping at Wall Drug.
    This "T-Rex eats every 15 minutes."  It is kind of like a Jurassic Park scene where the lights flash, the warning lights go on and the animatronic dinosaur moves and makes noise. Timmy had offered to take a picture of a little girl and her mom a few minutes before this picture. It was feeding time. The little girl panicked, started crying and ran away. I'm sure Timmy snapped a picture at the perfect time. I would love to have seen it. Since David knew he still had a while before the dinosaur would threaten him, he was all fun and games
 Did I mention we were in SD during Sturgis? I didn't know what Sturgis was before planning this trip. Up in New England, there is a big motorcycle rally in Laconia, New Hampshire but I heard Sturgis was bigger. We saw motorcycles, but everything is so spread out in SD, WY, etc that it wasn't really something that struck me as out of the ordinary. Apparently there were over 1 million motorcycles there this year.  This was the only time during the trip where we realized Sturgis was going on. I guess you really DO need to go to Wall Drug.

 These were seen in a cute little town on our way to Greybull, WY. I love "Little Free Library."  Secretly, I would love to have one at my house.

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