Saturday, June 3, 2017

Badlands National Park, part 1

Friday, June 2
We enjoyed the cool morning air while we walked the dogs around the campground, chatting with some of the other campers and wished them well as they hit the trail. Another round of folks will pull in this evening, seems few people stay more than a night or two. An occasional camper will stay 3, like us, or more.

Setting up camp here felt a little like the old tailgating days - not much space, but what a view! we do have a nice stretch of grass for our chairs, and the dogs have room to lounge and wrestle, and the view! Wow! We really enjoy the changing shadows as the light shifts throughout the day.

We had a quick breakfast and then, after settling the dogs in the trailer - air conditioning running and shades up in all the windows, we headed north.

Our first stop was at a privately operated historic site, the Prairie Homestead. The sod and dug-out structures are the original residence and farm buildings, not replicas, built here in 1909.

The home, barn, shed and chicken coop have all been well preserved, and visitors can actually step into the home and the outbuildings.

The home is furnished with period items, and the setting is very realistic, right down to the prairie dogs living in the front yard! They keep good company with the "prairie lawn mowers.
Prairie Lawnmower

These prairie dogs are special - white, rather than the usual fawn color. The owner of this establishment brought several here when the Pine Ridge Reservation was trying to minimize the numbers they had to deal with. White is an unusual color, so this setting preserves the variety.

Rather than feeling like a museum, this setting provides a pretty good example of what it would have been like to live on the prairie in those times. Interesting for anyone, but especially good for children. Experiences like this are few and far between, as the older buildings fall into disrepair or are so "protected" that the experience becomes sterile.
Prairie Homestead album

From the Prairie Homestead we traveled on to the Minuteman Missile historic site. The visitor center was interesting, with maps, diagrams and memorabilia from the cold war era. We remember it all quite vividly.  

After touring the visitor center we drove a short distance out to the location of one of the few silo remaining. Thee is a cell phone tour and map of the site available to explain the workings of the installation.
Minuteman Missile album

   We went on west a few miles to Wall for lunch and a quick trip to the post office. The visitor center for the National Grasslands is there too. I didn't realize there were so many sections, and this one visitor center represents them all.  After browsing their displays we decided it was time to get back to camp so we could take the pups for a walk.

When we were here in the Badlands last year it was so overcast there were few shadows to show off the erosion. We can't say that this time!

Bright, sunny, and hot during the day, the scene was made even more interesting when beautiful thunderheads came up in the afternoon, very picturesque!

We took advantage of the nice shadows to snap a few photos on the way back to camp.

These peaks, gullies, buttes, spires, and mesas are all carved from layers of sand and soil laid down thousands of years ago, as part of an ancient seabed. They layers trapped fossils of all kinds, including species with no known living relatives.

Back in camp we sat outside, watching the newcomers set up their camps, and watching the clouds and the occasional lightening strike. Winds eventually reached 28 mph according to our weather app, with gusts much higher. Eventually the gusts were so powerful we could hardly get the trailer door open, so we retired to the inside for the evening. Time to enjoy the view from all our windows, sans wind!!

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