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Travelogue -- The Badlands

Thursday, July 7, 2016

On July 4, Todd woke up before dawn at the rest area where we had stopped in the wee hours of the morning and started driving once again. Diane stayed in the back with me to catch a little more sleep, as Todd did the past two days during Diane's afternoon shift of driving. Todd likes riding in the back with me, but Diane hated it. She said it made her feel sick. Todd says it's like being in a boat, but we all know Diane doesn't love boats.

We stopped just after sunrise so Diane could get back up front and then we drove a couple of hours to our first National Park: The Badlands. We arrived at about 7:30 AM on a sunny, blue-sky day that promised to be very hot. The scenic byway through the park was already crowded with other tourists, including tons of other campers like us, but we didn't see any other ambulance campers. We met a couple from Rhode Island who had driven a pick-up truck camper and they were impressed with our speed. They'd been on the road twice as long as we had.

We used our America the Beautiful National Parks Pass for the first time to enter the park, which seemed fitting since it was the Fourth of July. I got to get out and explore at a lot of scenic vistas with Diane and Todd, but I couldn't go on the trails with them. They took some short walks to various outlooks and took tons of pictures, and they told me all about in between. 

They say the Badlands feels like something right out of science fiction or like walking on the surface of the moon. It's vastness is astonishing, and it's easy to imagine the first French explorers who came upon it and named it "mauvais terre a traverser," because if there weren't this lovely paved road for us to drive, we certainly wouldn't want to cross it.

We toured the park all morning until it was lunch time and then we hit our first tourist trap since Niagara Falls: Wall Drug, in Wall S.D. Wall Drug's claim to fame is mostly it's bumper stickers ("Where the heck is Wall Drug?") and the fact that it is in the middle of nowhere. 

Diane and Todd were worried that it was too hot in the bus for me, so they grabbed takeout, Todd took a quick pass through a splash park, and we got back on the road towards Rapid City.

Here are a few a more pics from the day:

South Dakota Sunrise

The last of the grassy plain before entering The Badlands

Some of the Badlands are canyons and some are hills. 

Todd at Wall Drug

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