Sunny and hot, with a chance of awesomeness.
On the Road in the Badlands, South Dakota.
We've officially inaugurated ourselves as RV'ers, by staying overnight at a Walmart in Fargo (North Dakota). We've heard how (many) WalMart's welcome RV'ers to stay overnight, free of charge. The benefit to them, of course, is the shopping we do. The benefit to us, of course, is a place to stop, when making tracks, all free. Sort of akin to anchoring, in the sailing world.
Of course we stopped in to buy "a few" things, promptly returned one thing, and came back to enjoy a lovely dinner of steak sandwiches.
Leisure Travel Vans had simply replaced the "I'm not sure what's wrong" Microwave/Convection with a new one, and it was one more system that needed testing, and Dave heartily approved.
We sat back and enjoyed the evening, in the parking lot.
"What on Earth is that?" Dave muttered as he leapt out of bed at two o'clock in the morning when a zamboni-like noise just outside our window woke us up with heart thumping noise. A quick check out the window revealed a Vacum Sweeper doing circles around the parking lot, and then, seemingly, sounded like he was doing circles around our van. Cleaning up debris. Walmart garbage?
After morning coffee, we were zoom-zooming along on the open flatlands of the prairie type roads.
and just as we reached the Exit to the Badlands, the brown tourism sign pointed to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
"Let's go" we both exclaimed with surprise!
Dave, trained as a Naval Weapons Tech, was most eager to visit and as for myself, well I had not idea what a Minuteman was, so of course we had to go.
"There's a tour starting in just ten minutes" said the Park Ranger, "and there's two tickets left, and you have time to get there..."
Back in our van and off we zoom-zoomed to the D-1 site, hidden in plain sight, just off the I-90.
It was an educational & informative visit to what was, only a few short years ago, serious and scary business, with many complexes hidden across areas in the USA and this one, hidden in plain sight just off Highway I-90.
The biggest shock factor for me, and one thing I didn't know I didn't realize, was learning that once launched, there was no Hollywood FailSafe factor. There was no Tom Cruise in hair rising action, who would, just three seconds away from Detonation and Destruction, save the World by pressing that button that saves all of humanity.
In the real world, the one we live on, once launched, there would be Definite Detonation and somewhere Dire Destruction.
After miles of driving in flat prairie type of lands, surrounded by never-ending fields of green, perhaps an occasional tree or two, where the road spreads out for miles ahead of you and behind you, seemingly forever, where you can watch the car in front of you drive on and never disappear, where we saw miles and miles of train just sitting on the tracks,
and even caught a crop-duster in action,
and saw remnants of an old homestead, what was once someone's home, in remote and undoubtedly harsh conditions,
we finally, and rather excitedly saw some unusual brown lumpy formations just ahead of us.
What followed was incredible moments of starting and stopping the van, clambering out, walking the trails, snapping photos, pointing here and there and everywhere, witness to jaw dropping moments of incredible and incredulous beauty here in The Badlands,
The Badlands were once, way back when, land under a stream and what we were looking at today was the resulting evaporation of it,
that had left behind impressive, hardened yet crumbly, pebbles and clumps of land and sand,
formations that rise high into pointy peaks and drop low into galleys and canyons, as far as the eye could see.
The Lakota Indians described this area as the Paha Ska (White Hills). The French Trappers in the 1700's were frustrated by the sharp peaks and crumbling rocks, and called this area "les mauvaises terres", which translates into Bad Lands.
We walked a few of the trails, stopped for lunch at one of the picnic grounds,
and even shared some time with a curious visitor,
As we exited the park, the green fields reappeared and look what we saw!!
Isn't he adorable? And then, oh my goodness!!
Bison (or is it Buffalo?) Whoa and WOW.
We drove into the impressive Black Hills and stopped at one of the National Park Campgrounds
got set up in under 5 minutes,
and promptly went for a walk around the Lake.
Horsethief Lake was created in the 1930's when the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built a dam on Pine Creek. The CCC was a President Roosevelt's program that sent young unemployed men to work on conservation projects.
"For this hard work, they earned $1.00/day" I read out loud, and both Dave and I looked up, and marvelled and enjoyed the fruits of their labour.
On our way back to the campsite, life stopped for a moment as this deer slowly crossed the road.
We somehow felt the same way of our day today. Time had stood still for many moments as we explored such surreal and seemingly otherworldly areas, that we were still gobsmacked
at all that we'd seen.
Note: Many more photos published on our FaceBook page
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