Real time – 6/4/18 – Internet is mostly on my limited data with limited signal, but I’m now sitting in the Badlands Cedar Pass Lodge restaurant eating an Indian Taco, with computer in front of me. I know, bad manners, but hey – gotta do what cha gotta do. Looking out the window at big sky, 90+ degrees, BADlands!!!! but I’m gonna quickly catch you up prior to getting here.
5/30 -Last I wrote we were at friend Kate’s in Iowa. Left Kate’s with freshly changed oil and rotated tires. And a rainstorm the night before that cleaned the car and camper a little. A few pictures from Kates.
Kate, herding the goats up to the road for some munching in the big pasture. Otis tells some kids, then one of the big boys, where to go. And dear Otis brings his frisbee to my camper door for some play time. Those working dogs just don’t quit.
Drove to Union Grove State Park in the southeast corner of South Dakota for the night. Passed lots of wind turbines on the wide open plains. A very sweet small campground, a little green oasis high above some open prairie, good trails through woods and along a muddy creek tributary to the Missouri R. Since it had rained and places were pretty steep, it got pretty slippery, but nice to take a hike after long drive. Great sunset right from my campsite looking over the edge of the hillside into the prairie below.
From the beginning I’ve had a conflict with whether to have everything planned and leaving it wide open to the flow, or some of both. I had planned to go from here straight up I-29 to Fargo, then west on I-94 a little ways to Lake Ashtabula to camp the night, then the next day continue on I-94 to Theodore Roosevelt NP. It seemed such a long way to get there, but there was no logical way to go diagonal from SE to NW in this grid state. But the more I looked at the state map and saw there is a scenic byway along the Louis and Clark trail up the Missouri R. through 3 or 4 Indian Reservations and sacred lands, I just decided to do it. Luckily I hadn’t made reservations for the next stop, so no loss. Or maybe not so lucky.
So on 5/31 we took off on an unplanned adventure. Started off pretty close at a sacred Indian spot called Spirit Mound, which had been noted by L & C with notes about it’s native significance. The significance however was a little dark, they rumored little spirits lived up there and killed humans who went up. Great long views from the top tho. The scenery along the road was beautiful in places near the river, otherwise it was the same huge ag. fields and pastures on flat or slightly rolling plains, no small towns or settlements. A woman at the campground had told me about a great new statue of a native woman at Chamberlain which I’d get to when I hit I-90. It was indeed, a wonderful visitors center and “Dignity”, a beautiful, beautiful statue. And great views, these wide views are pretty spectacular.
From here I was tempted to get off the scenic byway and take I-90 to a better north route but nooooo, the river, the mighty MO, called. Plus I’d spotted camping areas around Pierre on the river, so we persisted. That part of the byway was even worse, bigger plains fields and pastures. And it was looong, bumpy unmaintained roads, nothing in the way of gas stations or anything to stop for. And so few cars!!! For the first time I got to worrying about something going wrong with the car and nothing or noone near and no cell service! I had left home knowing I’d have to buy new trailer tires after 2-3000 miles and I was getting close to 2,000 and driving on bumpy roads wasn’t helping. Maybe Interstates in this barren countryside is a better idea after all. We got to Fort Pierre campground, which was really really nice. I’d thought it was a COE campground and I’d get my senior discount, but it turned out the COE owns it but leases it to the State which runs it as a State Park, so no discount. I was just happy to have gotten there. There were lots of Cottonwood trees throughout. I’d been introduced to cottonwoods at Kates, but here they were almost the only tree around, and there were lots of them. Nice and shady. They were also dropping their “cotton” and it looked like it had snowed. I’ve heard of cottonwoods but as far as I know haven’t been introduced til now. A nice new tree friend. They also rustle very nicely in the breeze.
6/1 – Finally it’s June! And we’re off to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. I was easily convinced to stick to some more major roads the rest of the way. It was a long drive again, but made more interesting by seeing some rolling hills and a few buttes now and then. Nice breaks in the monotony of the flat plains, gigantic ag fields with gigantic ag equipment. I will not grace this with the honored word “farm”, these are not farms, Industrial Agriculture has little resemblance to farms. Stick to local farmers, farmers markets and gardening.
More and more buttes showed up and finally, we were there! This was the start point of my BIG trip west, up til now it was just getting here. And what a phenomenal place!!!
A little suspense again, to leave you with that, but I want to post this and will try to do another before I leave the wifi.
From the rugged, awesome, beautiful, severe, harsh, inhospitable, hot, big skies of the Badlands,
Lynn and Xena