Monday, July 8, 2013

Exploring the Badlands...

Before we left South Dakota for good, I had one last place I wanted to see...and that was the Badlands.  Growing up a “semi-cowgirl” I had heard about the Badlands all my life.  Ok, my definition of a “semi-cowgirl” is this - my Dad was a cowboy.  A real one.  He grew up in Independence California, which is in the middle of nowhere on a small cattle ranch.  He and his brother helped their Dad herd some, but mostly they pretty much ran wild.  Their Mother was quite ill and died when they were very young and so they were left on their own “to be boys”.  So out on the range, on their horses, with the local Indians, they went.  When Dad was in his late teens & very early 20’s the movie makers came to town to make western movies.  Many of the actors didn’t know how to ride very well, so Dad did a lot of the actual riding and even doubled for Hopalong Cassidy and some of the other actors.

Years later, when I came along, being a “girl”, I didn’t get to do much “cowboy” stuff, but my Grandfather would let me ride out on the open range whenever I wanted (the cattle ranch long gone by then).  But the one thing I did grow up with, was lots and lots of cowboy stories, songs and western movies...and a love for it all.  Hence, the “semi” and my desire to see the Badlands.

As usual, I didn’t really know what to expect, which I find to be the best, because that way I’m always surprised and usually not disappointed...and that rang true this time, big time!

My first big “wow!” was how big it is!  240,000 acres, that’s a lot!  My other surprise was that I thought it would be more colorful than it is.  For the most part, it’s pretty much “tan”.  There are some reddish bands (that can be very wide) and there is one area of the park that does have some wonderful yellow and red (that looks like rainbow sherbert ice cream).  What’s really cool is how very different each area is. Rather than the color that distinguishes it, it’s the unusual shapes.  Peaks and mounds that look sculpted by giant children building sand castles with the wind and water knocking them down. 

You never tire of looking at them.  I can only imagine the fun it must have been for the people who got to name the various overlooks.  Names like Window & Door, Bigfoot Pass, Hay Butte, Pinnacles and Prairie Wind. 

In addition to all the peaks, gullies, buttes and wide prairies, we lucked out and came at a time that was fertile after weeks of heavy rain.  The tall grasses were a deep green dancing in the breeze, many filled with beautiful wildflowers.  Little yellow sunflowers, pink and white Field bindweed, and pretty white Narrow-leaf yucca.  To top it all off, the sky remained clear blue with soft puffy clouds here & there, with the days ending in beautiful sunsets.  Each night filled with bright stars.  We even heard a ranger talk, who shared fun stories for the kids about all the various fossils found in the park.

It was a great visit, one that I will cherish and long remember.  I can almost see those cowboys on their horses riding off into the sunset...

...on the road in South Dakota,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

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