Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Very Long Western Story, Part Four: The Wind and the Badlands

One of the drawbacks of being in a place that gets a lot of summer tourism during the month of October is that some places that may be recommended or interesting wind up being closed or on an off-season, short schedule. If you'll recall, Monkey's and my last visit to Maine during early June (off-season, there), found us having difficulties finding recommended places for lunch due to the fact that it was 2pm and most of the places closed at 1pm because it wasn't "summah, yet."

The same fate befell us here in South Dakota (where I was surprised that many of the locals have what I once thought was just a Minnesota accent--it's apparently more of an Upper Midwest "o." I guess, if I would have paid more attention during Fargo, in which Frances McDormand used the same accent to great effect (in NORTH Dakota)....). We arrived at Wind Cave at about 3:25. The last cave tour went out at 3, so we didn't actually get to tour the cave, which is like a labyrinth down there (we saw a map)! We did get to walk around to the back of the visitor's center and see the natural mouth of the cave, through which Alvin McDonald passed thousands of times as he explored and mapped the extensive cave throughout his life. He must have been a pretty small guy.

And that about did it for the exploring on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, we proceeded east to Interior, SD, where we then headed northwesterly into Badlands National Park. It was a vision beyond words, really. The closest, I imagine, that I will ever get to being on a different planet, without ever leaving my own, the badlands are simply an awesome, unique place. And every step changed the perspective. I surely would not have wanted to pass through this place in an earlier time, without water or shelter, or the means to pass through relatively quickly. I imagine that many folks died passing through the badlands, or at the least suffered immensely. But, looking upon them now, in the settled, soft 21st century, where we visit dreadful natural places as destinations to snap a few pics and head back to the motel, they are beautiful.

The badlands were a haul, and, adding to the trip a visit to the ridiculous Wall Drug (you gotta see it to understand), and a stop in Rapid City for some grub, that was the day on Wednesday. Thursday would take us from Badlands to worse, as we headed west, into Wyoming (The Equality State?) to witness the startlement known as Devils Tower.


La Fashionista said...

An eerily beautiful landscape, and there being so few people around seems like it adds to the feel of the place. I would love to go someday.

For now, I am in life in this materially-developed urban area with its definite emphasis on comforts, yet also with some dreadful parts of a very different sort.


Walter said...

Good stuff, ATR. It is very enjoyable to travel vicariously through your writings. It certainly puts me in the mood to do some traveling myself.

I saw Mt. Rushmore as a kid, but never made it to the Badlands. I'm hoping T and I can ride up there some day.