Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The day started later than usual. As evidenced by this picture, that wicked muse Kessler inspired a late night, as well as this long exposure night shot.
After a bike ride around the beautiful Lake Herman State Park, we headed out to cross South Dakota and enter into the Badlands. Word of advice to anyone out there: never let Nikki have a Mountain Dew for breakfast. It's like feeding a mogwai after midnight. Seriously. Don't do it.
Because of our late start, we opted to take the expressway instead of our usual side roads to make a little better time. However, we still managed to squeeze in a few tourist traps along the way. The first of which was the Corn Palace.
That's right, screw you starving children of the world, we have so much food here we use it to make palaces!!!! And if that wasn't cool enough, there's a gym/auditorium in the middle where I assume they hold middle school basketball games and local theater performances of Bye, Bye Birdie.
Here's a mural made entirely out of corn cobs. This crap makes the balancing rock of Devil's Lake look like the F-ing Taj Mahal. But it was free.
After a pastrami, muenster, and mustard sandwich we were back on the road.
What South Dakota lacks in trees it more than makes up for in flies and billboards. The Dod won't need to eat for weeks (meat group). And there's enough Wall Drug billboards to cover the Great Wall.
After crossing onto mountain time, our next stop was the Petrified Gardens. A miraculous phenomenon of nature displayed for all to see (for $5 a head). Just look at how excited we are to see piles of tree-shaped rocks stacked in fenced-in back yard just off the expressway.
And in the museum there are even more wonders to wow the imagination. Like this rock shaped like a piece of ham.
However, they are not edible.
After saying goodbye to another $10 we'll never see again, we fired up the Dod and hit the road for the remaining 20 miles of our journey. As evening waned it was like driving straight into the sun.
But as the sun set and we crested over the final hill before exit 131, we caught our first glimpse of the Badlands, jagged and purple in the distance.
It is hard to find the words to describe the scenery here. Sharp little mountains rising out of the ground, colorful cliffs cut into the earth, all ringed in brown and red. Simply awe inspiring.
We settled into our campsite as the evening's orange turned a soft pink. There'll be much to do and see tomorrow. But for tonight we sleep under one of the clearest, most beautiful night skies I've ever seen.