September 2, 2011: Badlands, Mount Rushmore

Awoke to another nice day and set out for the drive to our next park, The Badlands.  I figured we were in for a real treat today since something called the badlands could be nothing but good.  The drive was a little long to get there but it gave me a little more time to reflect on the heads of Mount Rushmore and to get myself mentally prepared for a landscape that has been compared to the one on the moon.

I donned my space suit as we approached the park entrance and we blasted off into the park after paying our dues at the gates.  A little ways into the park we made our first stop and got our first glimpse of the Badland landscape and what a landscape it was!  This was only a little ways in and you could already see large canyons, and a really rugged land.  I was a little startled to see they had rattle snakes in this alien landscape but figured I could probably outrun one if I had to, and if I found myself cornered there was always the option of jumping into one of the canyons and hoping for the best.

We continued on and found ourselves in a strange land called “Prairie Dog Town.”  As we moved into “town” I suddenly had the eerie feeling that we were being watched.  I looked around and saw millions(small exaggeration) of  prairie dogs standing on their hind legs following us with their eyes.  As Twilight Zone music exploded in my head, I screamed to the driver to get us out of there and we sped away in a cloud of dust.

As we moved into the park, I started to question whether I had been slipped a hallucinogen because the hills started turning a variety of different colors.  I didn’t say anything  though because I didn’t want to embarrass myself, and was glad I was able to keep my mouth shut  since a little later an information sign explained that the hills were different colors due to ancient lava flows.

After the multicolored pills, I mean hills,  we entered a part of the park that I like to call the heart of the badlands. It was a vast landscape of barren, craggy features and they had a trail marked by random white poles that you could use to hike out onto the “flats” where there is a large canyon that would “take our breaths” away.  We decided to do it and I was adamant that we followed the maps direction of never letting a pole get out of site since it is very easy to get disoriented and lost out on the Badlands. I was just hoping the canyon wouldn’t really take our breaths away as that would really ruin the day. Luckily, we made it there and back again with no mishaps besides catching a little heat stroke.

After this wild and crazy hike, we headed out of the park with a couple more short walks into the badlands along the way.  It had been very exhausting hiking an alien landscape all day so we went back to the hotel for a nice 20 minute nap where some sort of psychic power warned me to download all the pictures I had taken so far to my laptop. This came in handy since about an hour after doing this my camera was pick pocketed on the strip in Keystone.

Shrugging it off(that’s my story), we headed back to Mount Rushmore after our strip walk to check out some of the short films we had missed in the visitor center.  Then we headed back to town to have a late dinner and hopefully see some drunk pickpocketer running around snapping pictures,  but that camera just wasn’t meant to be and I resigned myself to the fact that a new one would have to be purchased in the morning.

After dinner, we headed back to the lodge where I did a quick tearing of the room apart to make sure no rattle snakes had come back with us from the park before hitting the bed and having sweet dreams of a mysterious place called The Badlands.

 

 

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