August 21, 2017

Week 10: Into the Badlands

Searching for alien vistas…

(all photos by the author).

There’s a strange sort of routine that one settles into once you near the three month mark in your travels. Unlike a short trip taken over a long weekend, long term travel demands that order emerges from the chaos, if sanity is to prevail. The bills still get paid, the toothpaste finds its way back to the same spot each day, and the car and each bag in it goes back together like a carefully crafted jigsaw puzzle. Throw planning to the wind, and you’ll spend a majority of your time searching for each and every crucial item.

Old modes of transport meets new in the Black Hills of South Dakota…

Then there’s the wisdom to know when to flex your plans and simply go with the flow and when to stand your ground like a character from a Dickens novel and firmly demand “more soup…” You pick your battles, knowing that the unexpected is part of the fun of travel, yet working to get what you feel you deserve, all while trying not to slip into an “us against the world” mentality.

I say this because the travel gods threw us a few curve balls this past week. Nothing we can’t recover from, but it did manage to slow our roll down from 100% productivity. Sure, the Black Hills of South Dakota were amazing, as were the Badlands. We managed to cross off some key “life list” items such as Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument.

The beauty of the Badlands.

What threw us for a loop? Non-existent internet.

Sure, camping in a gulch has its drawbacks. And it’s a sign of our times to watch beleaguered campers climb the ridge each morning, desperately hunting for cell phone bars.  And we’re always ready to go off-line and readjust our writing plan of attack… if we have warning. What threw us was that wifi was promised to us at a string of venues, where it in fact was not available. Thank the aforementioned travel gods for free library wifi within short driving range. What would you get done if you were only “connected” an hour a day?

Clear skies… can you see the butte?

Of course, we did dodge some pretty big bullets, such as a 1 AM hailstorm featuring “half dollar-sized hail” that struck just miles away from our tent site. And the weather in the Badlands yesterday was drop dead gorgeous, with towering rock pinnacles piercing a clear, deep blue sky.

The closest we got to the astrophysical observatory in Lead, South Dakota.

Unfortunately, we missed our shot to tour the astrophysical observatory in the gold mine in Lead, South Dakota this time ’round. Such is the triumph and tragedy of travel… we always like to think that we’ll return again to most places we travel, and try not to kill ourselves by squeezing everything in.

Wild Bill’s headstone.

We did make a brief stop at the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood on the way back up to civilization in Rapid City. And ironically, we’re in the Sturgis region as the 2014 Biker Rally revs up next week and approaches in early August. Sturgis is like DragonCon, Mardi Gras and Xmas for bikers all rolled into one… hey, we where also in Jerusalem during Easter and Passover in ’07, it’ll be worth comparing and contrasting cultures as the faithful descend upon what they deem to be the center of their respective universe…

Stay tuned, Wyoming is next!

 

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