Badlands and Wall Drug

The last few times we visited South Dakota, we happened to go during the Sturgis bike rally. This time we planned more carefully to avoid it, but also to finally experience weather other than 102 degrees in the Badlands. It turns out May is a very nice time to go, though the animals didn’t seem to be out and roaming quite as much yet. That’s ok: the landscape more than makes up for it.

Here I am, belly and all. I traveled with a note from my midwife saying that I was cleared for air travel, but never ended up needing to show it. Still, I think Baby had a little growth spurt during the week, because my belly seemed to grow some. And no, that wasn’t just the burgers we ate.

Badlands, SD

We started our adventures off in the Badlands because it seemed the least likely day for rain, and in the least likely place. One thing we learned quickly is the area’s habit of gathering clouds in the afternoon, then unleashing a sporadic scattered (but heavy) storm. We did a pretty good job of avoiding getting caught, though, through some flexible scheduling.

Anyway, prairie dog!

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Because we came during mild Spring weather, there wasn’t much haze in the air. You can really see the texture all the way out.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

See the little car for scale? The Badlands are a curious thing. You’re going along in prairie, minding your own business, and suddenly the land comes to a screeching halt. It must have been a pretty big shock for the pioneers.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Here’s Dad being very careful near an edge. Very careful.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

You’d better believe I wore my hat constantly, and covered every exposed inch with sunscreen – multiple reapplications. The light bouncing off the rocks would have burned my face even with the hat on.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Hello over there! There are a few paths that have been constructed so you can wander around, but not damage the soil with further erosion. David was not happy with some people he saw who were off-roading.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

We’re conferring about something here. I wonder what. Mostly like when and where to eat lunch. Dad’s favorite topic.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Here’s the answer to that previous question: we drove in to Wall and had lunch at the “drugstore” (quotes are important there – you’ll understand why if you’ve ever been there).

Badlands, SD

We all had hot beef sandwiches, except for Yen. He had roast beef. Then there was pie, naturally.

All of those funny shaped things near the top of the wall are names of ranchers and their brands. We saw some… unfortunate names that probably deserved a more creative brand. I’ll say no more…

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Behold the jackalope! Yen asked whether they were real animals. He’s adorable!

Badlands, SD

Our first bison sighting of the trip. There would be many, many more.

Badlands, SD

I never realized that Wall Drug even has a little chapel.

Badlands, SD

Here I am with the T-Rex. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to catch him in action, so here he’s just being docile and posing with me.

Badlands, SD

Memorabilia room.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Here’s me tickling the chin of a bison. Now that I look at this picture, it seems like he’s just a little guy, doesn’t it? Or maybe I have changed as scale.

Badlands, SD

David sure looks grumpy about me settling on his land.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

After lunch, we stopped off at the local Harley dealership so Dad could check out the sale rack. He bought two shirts and a hat.

Badlands, SD

And then back we went to the Badlands for more trekking. You can see the clouds were starting to gather.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Here we are setting off on the Notch Trail. I wouldn’t be able to go very far – you’ll see why in a moment. And yes, we’re carefully looking out for snakes.

Badlands, SD

Here it is: the reason I stopped walking.

Badlands, SD

And here I am helplessly looking up at the guys climbing up and away. Don’t worry: after Dad reached the top, he turned around and came back to keep me company.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Here’s the ladder again from above, and Dad and I are watching David and Yen disappear.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

This is the view that was waiting for them on the other side. Joke’s on them, though: later we drove around and saw it from an easier vantage point.

Badlands, SD

David gives the view two thumbs up.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Heading back. You can see me and Dad down there discussing the merits of investing early in a 401k. I hope you understand by now that I’m not kidding.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Whoa. Looks a little different when you’re headed down…

Badlands, SD

Staying cool and hydrated!

Badlands, SD

Yen thought it would be funny if I posed as if I was climbing. It was funny until I immediately tripped and almost fell. Lesson learned, I guess.

Badlands, SD

We think these are bird houses, but haven’t bothered to look it up. Sorry about that. Even just two work days after a vacation turns out to be rather taxing.

Badlands, SD

I have no idea what we’re looking at. Probably wondering where the next outhouse is.

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

Badlands, SD

And that’s it! We started our journey back so we could get an early dinner and rest up for the next day.

Badlands, SD