Tuesday, July 7, 2009

2009-07-07 Good Dog, Badlands

Dateline Badlands National Park,
Interior, SD
Lat 43.6946
Long -102.5553

After two weeks in the Lewis & Clark Recreation Area in Yankton, Shelby and I decamped to the Badlands National Park yesterday, about 300 miles to the west.

Halfway through the flat and uneventful trip, we passed through Chamberlain and in crossing the river a curious thing happened. The topography changed and the humidity went away. The land changed from impossibly infinite open plains and farmland into gently rolling green hills.

I was reminded of the passage from one of my favorite Robert Heinlein novels, The Green Hills of Earth:

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth,
Let us rest our eyes on fleecy skies,
And the cool green hills of Earth!"

The real reason I remember that passage is that it has long been my happy place I go to on extremely turbulent flights, so it is well drilled into my brain.

But there was no turbulence during our short flight. Just a lot of rest stops to fight off the soporific effect of long, straight highways. We sat under a shady tree in one rest area for a while, loving the fact that in any direction you looked, you could see forever. I have missed horizons during my stay back east, which is almost entirely covered by trees. We are rich in horizons today.

After docking Serenity in a KOA campground just outside Interior, SD, we chilled for the evening to rest up for today's exploration of the Badlands National Park.

It was spectacular, and surprisingly busy with tourists and rented RV's. Yet with all that open space, even a large crowd gets swallowed up.

A series of photos are now posted on my Badlands Album on Picasa.

We're pulling out in the morning to head up to Spearfish, SD, just outside the Black Hills and Deadwood. Options are open at that point. We may see Mt. Rushmore or possibly scoot over to Devil's Tower.

Lest any of our players from home wonder why we spent two weeks in Yankton, I will share a bit of local information that may be useful in making plans to visit South Dakota Parks, especially around holidays like the 4th of July.

Premium spots in SD State Parks run about $18 per day. The rest are $16. This is in addition to a state sticker for each vehicle that costs $20 per year. The maximum stay in one site is 14 days. So, what the locals do is book the premium sites well in advance for a 14 day stay ending on the holiday. They bring out their units, or at the very least a pup tent, and set up on their reservation date. Then they go home.

This creates a kind of eerie effect during the week for us full-timers. The park is fully booked, but everyone's home. Their campers, RV's and pup tents sit empty during the week, enjoying the best views people could hope for if they were actually using their spot.

So as I was checking ahead, I found everywhere I looked was fully booked for the holiday, so we stayed put until the locals cleared out. Our next port of call is already booked.

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