Saturday, August 07, 2010

Summer Vacation: South Dakota

Nauvoo had been such a high point in the trip that leaving it and Winter Quarters was a real downer. It didn't help that we had almost two full days of driving before getting to our next major destination. We haven't had any more car trouble with the fuel pump but we're being really careful to keep the tank over 1/2 full and that seems to be doing the trick. We stayed the night at a Walmart in Council Bluffs, Iowa (near Winter Quarters).

Driving into South Dakota the weather changed drastically.  We had experienced hot, hot, hot for the entire trip from Salt Lake on and humidity had been dreadful since Oklahoma.  The weather had been worst in South Carolina (sorry Dacia) where it was over 100 and very high humidity.  Coming into South Dakota it began to cool down.  We rolled down the windows and enjoyed the cool breeze until the clouds turned dark and foreboding.
Soon we spotted funnel clouds in the distance--we counted four--and then we were pelted with a downpour of cool and refreshing rain.  The drops were huge and it felt more like we were under a water spicket than a rain cloud. 

On the other side of the rain storm the clouds began to part and a few blue skies peeked through.

Just in time for us to enjoy an evening in the Badlands of South Dakota. I had no idea what the Badlands were.  Boy was I shocked to discover how beautiful, amazing and fun they could be.  The Badlands are like a mini grand canyon.  They are incredible rock formations with mind blowing colors and they cover a vast expanse and they are completely accessible.  Yes, you can climb all over these things! It was so much fun!  I really wish we had more time to play there.  But we did have enough time for Cora to get Butte rash--that is what the rangers call it when someone slips and falls down the rock faces--it really hurts but heals quickly.

The campground at dusk.

The next day on the way out we stopped at many of the scenic view points.

And enjoyed visiting the Prairie Dog Town too.  There were prairie dogs everywhere as far as the eye could see.  For a while we walked out into the middle of a town and sat down in the field.  We were very quiet and still and were pleased when the prairie dogs came out of their dens to look at us.  The Badlands was fantastic and a place I would definitely like to visit again.  I only wish we'd seen the resident Bison--they were all hiding while we were there.

After the badlands we hopped back into the RV and headed for Mt. Rushmore.

OK, quite honestly Mt. Rushmore was disappointing.  It is amazing that it was carved in stone.  It is amazing the architectural and design feats that were used to complete it but really it is nothing like what we expected.  We thought that it was going to be a huge monolith standing alone on an open plain, that the faces would be huge and impressive.  When in actuality they were carved into a face of a mountain that is surrounded by lots of other peaks and that you can't even see until you park, walk through the maze of paths, through the corridor of flags and visitors center and out onto the open viewing platform.  We're glad we went and suggest that everyone see it once but once is all you need and in an hours time you'll be out of there--we should have stayed at the Badlands longer.

Oh and did I mention more car trouble? Yep, as we were pulling up to the entrance booth at Mt. Rushmore the RV started coughing and sputtering again.  It was warm outside, the altitude climb had been pretty extreme but our gas had been above 1/2 tank.  Hmmm.  We got it parked with a little difficulty but it started up and got us down the mountain ok after it's hour rest at Mt. Rushmore. Cross your fingers for no more trouble.

1 comment:

  1. love the pictures. I have heard that from other people that rushmore was a bit of a disappointment. Too bad. I think it's because they always show it so big in movies and tv.

    And, it wasn't THAT bad when you were here! :)


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