Monday, September 10, 2012

Year Three - Back Out West

Another season of winter avoidance begins for us.  We journey west through Sarnia, across Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and arrive at our first destination - the Badlands National Park in South Dakota on Day 4.  The trek across is made a little more exciting by a severe rain storm with bouts of hail during our second night "camping" at Walmart in Newton, Iowa.  Hail is really bad for our solar panels on the trailer roof, but upon morning inspection, Brad finds them fully intact.  As we travel across the plains right after leaving the suburbs of Chicago and all through Iowa, I can't help but notice that the only crops grown here are corn and soya.  I've never seen so much corn and soya.

"I supposed you're from outer space."  "No, I'm from Iowa, I only work in outer space."  I hear this quote over and over in my head as we travel this rolling hills state.  It's from the movie "Star Trek IV - the Voyage Home".  Trekkies will get it. 

Here are some interesting points along our route although we didn't go see any of them:
  • in Illinois near the cutoff to Peoria, we see a sign to the birthplace of Ronald Reagan
  • in DeSoto, Iowa, a sign announces the birthplace of John Wayne
  • a tourist attraction for the Bridges of Madison County is noted right after the John Wayne birthplace sign
  • in South Dakota near Elk Point is the Lewis & Clark Trail marking their journey as they mapped the Missouri River
  • in Mitchell, South Dakota there is the "World's Only Corn Palace" (I guess so!) dedicated to corn farmers of the area
  • in De Smet, South Dakota is the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder from "Little House on the Prairie" books and TV show fame
  • in Murdo, South Dakota is the Pioneer Auto Show featuring the original "General Lee" from the Dukes of Hazzard TV show
  • in the tourist attraction called 1880 Town in South Dakota, there are signs displaying items from the movie "Dances With Wolves" (was it made near here?)
  • but best of all, a sign on I-90W in South Dakota which states "Dick's Body Shop, 24-hr Toe Service" - I wonder what kind of body shop it really is.  Note, the spelling of Toe is not my typo - it was actually printed on the sign like that!  Poor Dick!
In the Badlands National Park, we camp in the free campground on Sage Creek Road.  There are no services here, no water or electricity, but we are self-sufficient.  We arrive later in the day, set up camp and have dinner.  In the morning, a large herd of bison are in the campground.  We climb up on the roof of the trailer for a better view.  I'm not sure how often this happens, but it's special for us.

Buffalo in our campground

Later we drive the Sage Creek Rim Road which winds through the hills and tours us around the rim of these Badlands.  The formations are interesting, having been created by erosion, but not very colourful like we've seen in Utah.  We hike "The Notch", a 1.5 mile trail to a view of the valley.  The hike through the canyon is extremely hot - it's probably at least 100F or over 35C, and the wind gusting up the side of hill at the viewpoint that we have to hold on to our hats.  It's very dry here, less than 20% humidity, and the surrounding grasslands are golden showing the effects of this year's drought and the usual dryness of the area.  We see plenty of wildlife.  Besides the bison there are Prairie Dogs (infected with plague from fleas), a herd of Big Horn Sheep and a few herds of Pronghorn Antelope.

Brad standing on a ledge on the Rim Road

Big Horn Sheep, Badlands NP

Brad at The Notch overlook

We will leave tomorrow and head to Wyoming, by-passing Mount Rushmore which I've seen in movies and photos - how different could it be?  Next stop is the Devil's Tower near Sundance.  Maybe we'll catch the next UFO out!  (hint - Close Encounters of the Third Kind)

1 comment:

  1. Great to hear from you! I enjoyed seeing the heard of bison, shot! I am imagining you watching from the roof :) How exciting! The shot of Brad at the Notch, on quick glance, I thought it was Kevin Costner. Brad you could work as his double!! Have lots of fun and keep the posts coming!