In the words of the great philosophers, Bill and Ted, that was most excellent!
This journey actually began about 40 years ago. As a young boy, I heard, read or watched something about the badlands and it excited my imagination. Outside of Grandmom’s and Coci’s house, it was the only place I ever wanted to go.
I don’t know? It sparked the romantic in me. That little boy’s dream never went away. Today, it was satisfied. Oh, the man wants to go much deeper into the park, explore and hike when the sun is like a hammer with the badlands an anvil. But I’ll do that another time. Buffalo, prairie dogs, big horn sheep, jagged hills, ravines and canyons cutting through the plains. It was?
It’s the perfect way to end this next to last segment of the journey, the drive along scenic route 240 with a few short hikes. The west end is about an hour’s drive along Interstate 90; the west end about 30 minutes. Both entrances are about 8 miles south of the interstate. I took the western entrance on a sunny, cloudless day.The road wraps around the northern edge of the park, 244,000 acres, once home to ancient horses and rhinos. It was the land of the Lakota Tribe and later the Great Sioux Nation which included the Oglala Lakota.
Even before I arrived at the park, I saw the bison (I should start calling them by their correct name. There is no such thing as buffalo here anymore. Bison are what we refer to as buffalo.) You can get as close to them as you want. I highly recommend not getting too close.
Inside of the park, on a side road, is a “prairie dog village.” Cute little things. They won’t get close or allow you to get close to them, but they appreciated the grapes some women brought. They make some fantastic sounds. I have no idea what they are saying but it seemed important. The women told me the night before, when they went out to wander around the prairie dog village, they looked back and there was a bison standing next to their car. They slowly backed away. Far away.
I even caught a picture of the big horned sheep as they made their way through the grass. The southern side of the park is the largest mixed grass plain in the nation.
Tomorrow begins the final portion. I can’t call it the journey home and too many things await the 49 year old and 49 year old’s choices and consequences and…
But that’s tomorrow. It was an hour long drive back to the hotel. A quiet one with the radio off. Smiling a little boy’s smile. And I even bought myself the only thing of the trip. A hat of course.
Aloha from the badlands of South Dakota.
PS. If you get the chance, check out my Facebook page. I shot a bunch of videos here that I still can’t figure out how to upload. There are the bison ambling around, the prairie dogs doing prairie dog things and a couple of me.
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