I was wondering if i would be as astonished by the geological formations going into the South Unit or if after a while it begins to all blend together in a sameness. And though there are similarities in all of the Badlands there are enough differences to continue to make my heart sing with awe and my eyes pop at every turn. Cannonballs, spires, buttes, painted canyons, prairie dog towns are all eye candy but the most fun of all was encounters with the bison. On both occasion I had my car between me and those mammoth creatures. I turned into the road leading to Cottonwood camp and barreling on down the road directly at me was a mammoth bison. Decided to just stop dead and thank goodness he veered around me but it sure got the adrenaline pumping and Kill in a barking uproar. Couldn’t even think to get the camera. But even more exciting was finding myself with a few other cars surrounded by a bison herd on the move right down the middle of the road. Given the multitude of signs all over the park warning about the dangers of the bison, even I opted to take the safe approach and stayed in my car! Though it was a tad tempting to get up close and personal!
I opted for the loop drive and even though I still longed to be pounding the sandstone with my boots, I still thoroughly appreciated the many jaw-dropping vistas of eroded sandstone. There is so much incredible natural beauty in this world that it would be tragic not to make every effort to keep these magnificent parkland as pristine as possible. As I gaze at the many bumps, piles, buttes, bluffs, canyons, spires, jagged outcroppings, table tops, plateaus, castles and much more, I feel so much more peace within myself, my soul soars, and I feel more harmonious with the world. Back in Medora, the gateway town, it was time to face the real world again. A warning light kept flickering on but it definitely did not announce what was wrong. But my hunch was it might be low on oil as I had a similar occurrence on last years ventures while crossing the planes and climbing the mountains. I checked the oil stick and couldn’t read any oil on it so I found the closest auto parts store, as the local gas and convenient store in Medora did not carry the weight of oil I needed. So three quarts of oil later, with my destination about 200 miles down the rode, I pushed on and I decided I would be getting to know the folks at the Toyota Dealer in Rapid City. The drive was pleasant as there was not a lot of traffic or trucks on the highway.
I experience another one of those moment when rounding a corner, I found myself dropped into an entirely different world of mountains and forest, towering pines and steep grades after the low rolling flat of the grasslands and desert scales. The scenic route (remember those dots in the map) was the opted for route and it wound me through forest and cute little western motif tourist trap town with the t-shirt store, western bars, fudge shops, thrill rides, and of course motel after motel. Even the store fronts were gaudy. I sometimes ponder why when we have a unique area such as Mt. Rushmore, New Orleans Bourbon Street, Gatlingburg, Tennessee that it can’t be left in its own unique state but has to be junked up with so many other attractions that have nothing to do with the original draw of the unique he destination. So finally two hundred miles down the road was Hot Springs, South Dakota and a motel for the night. I had asked for a room with one Queen bed and ground floor because I had pets. The room I requested said the motel operator was n the third floor. Of course I was at the far end of the hall from the elevators. But to wanting to waste energy on grousing about it, I maneuvered all out stuff on a cart and crowded in the elevator and up we went. The dogs were quite perplexed and what a pain in the butt it is to have to do the elevator routine to take them out to pee.