Skip to main content

Discovering the Good in the Badlands

Oih, we’re in Canada! Weeeee! It’s been about 7 years since I visited this friendly country and 31 years for my mom. We entered through Alberta, just north of Glacier National Park. The border patrol lady, with the traditional Canadian accent, warmly welcomed us to Canada but sadly, did not stamp our passports. Sniffles. We are en route to Banff right now! More details to read later.

Let’s backtrack to the Badlands…oh…a week ago? (So many stops since then!). We drove from Fergus Falls to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, with a quick stop to see Salem Sue along Interstate 94. If you enjoy animals, Teddy R. would be the park for you. We drove the 2 hour loop and were able to see two solo bison (which made us giddy in excitement, our first wild animals!) and then about 10 minutes from the end of the loop, a group of 100+ bison were essentially sitting on the side of the road, just waiting for their picture to be taken. Sigh. It was still neat to be that close, but not as exciting as the two solo bison (we had to work for those pictures!).

At another point, a lone coyote was walking along the side of the road, intently focused on something in the bushes. We stopped the car and watched him hunt. He pounced but quickly lost interest (as well as his prey it seemed) and turned in our direction. He walked in front of the truck towards the other side of the road, but seemed oblivious to our presence. A flock of turkeys also crossed the road in front of us, causing us to stop and wait for them to pass. Then there were the fields (and fields) of prairie dogs. So many holes, everywhere. These cute little guys kept making squeaky noises at what seemed like hundreds of friends and relatives.

The view overall was decent, not my favorite, but the closeness of the animals was awesome. I also enjoyed the history of the park, learning more about one of our presidents and why he created the Forest Service and became a conservationist.
We then steered our truck south to Rapid City, South Dakota, and stayed with…more cousins! Huge kudos to family who have made the beginning of this trip more comfortable and fun. We slept in the next day and took our time making it to Badlands National Park, via Route 44. The majesty reminded me of the UT/AZ parks. It was big and beautiful with varying colors of rock (similar to Bryce Canyon/Zion, etc., just not as red).
We hiked the Notch Trail which was short (1.5 miles) but unique because you had to climb a log and cable ladder that was flat against the side of a cliff. Once up, you walked along a narrow ledge that had a steep drop-off on one side and cliff walls on the other (made me weary as I’m sure you heard about the El Capitan cliff collapses in Yosemite). Eventually the trail widened into what looked like a dry creek bed. The view at the end was enjoyable as it overlooked the entire White River Valley and a chipmunk kept me company for a bit.
On our drive back to Rapid City, we took Interstate 90 and saw chipmunks, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and bison. So many bison. This north route provided much better views than the south route!

We also stopped at Wall Drug (apparently it’s a must if you’re in South Dakota.)! We tried the homemade vanilla ice cream (oh so delicious) and ate a quick lunch before dropping off the cousins in Rapid. Filled up the gas tank at Sam’s Club ($2.09 – cheapest gas we’ve found!) and headed towards Jackson, Wyoming.

A quick stop at Mount Rushmore for the obligatory tourist photo, then we were back on the road. As the day was later than expected, we decided to skip Wind Cave National Park and continue heading west.

One area I absolutely adored? Black Hills National Forest. I will be back when I have time to explore and hike and camp out. This area was stunning. We kept driving in and out of the forest and every time, I was in awe. Loved it. One day, Black Hills, one day!

Will post about Grand Tetons and Yellowstone next.

Muah!

SFK

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Bend National Park: A Stargazer’s Paradise

Living in Houston, I don’t often look up at the sky. Maybe if I realize it’s a full moon, I’ll find time to sit outside and enjoy the beauty. But the other days of the month? Stars don’t exist inside the 610 Loop of Houston. Which made our venture out to Big Bend even more spectacular. A perk to working for myself is that I’m able to schedule my days off whenever I want. So, when a nurse friend tells us she has 10 days off and wants to travel somewhere, we decided to go big. We narrowed down our destination to either northern Arkansas or Big Bend National Park. Then when vacations days were settled for the other 2 friends to take 6 days, we decided on Big Bend. You don’t happen to drive nearby or randomly decide to detour to Big Bend. The only reason you’ll  travel anywhere near the park is because you purposely decide to make the trek to west Texas.  It’s 9+ hours from Houston (not including stops for gas, food, or detours to Del Rio for scenic routes), or 200+ miles if you decide t

Dancing the Night Away in New Orleans!

Bonjour Mes Amis! Picture this: I’m sitting on the floor, playing with my nephews when I receive a text, asking if I have plans over the upcoming weekend. Other than having a margarita to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and tentative plans to attend the Dynamo vs LA Galaxy game, nada (and by tentative, I mean, the game was sold out, and my long reach of soccer connections was not proving fruitful). So, I was available for adventure! D received two VIP tickets to the Jazz Fest for May 5 th and 6 th and wanted a drama free companion (I guess I passed that test over the trek to Havasu! *pats self on the back*). Many shout outs and thanks to K2 for enjoying their Honeymoon so much, they decided to share it with us (and by share, I mean give us the tickets while they leisurely drove towards home, with a detour through Dallas)! Jazz. Fest. New. Orleans.  Could the weekend be set up for any more fun? Fortunately, for us, yes! D was told by J (again, thank you, Havasu tri

The Unknown Future Awaits!

Look out, World, I'm visiting soon! After years of talking and writing about it (view here and especially here ), I'm finally doing it! I turned in my notice at work and am hitting the road after D’s wedding and the boys’ baptism. I’ll explore all the wonders the USA has to show me: national parks, lively cities, new friends just waiting for me to say "hello". Ahh, I’m so excited! My heart is soaring. There are no regrets in my mind or soul. This is what I am meant to do and I'm finally following that little voice within. Finally. So, tell me your favorite places, the ones that changed your life or left a lasting impression. Share your joys with me (and maybe the name and contact info of your cousin's nephew by marriage who has an extra room and happens to live in ____!). I'm heading to San Francisco today! Bliss for an immediate grand adventure, even if it was a preplanned trip (D's bachelorette party). We're exploring Muir Woods,