Friday, September 16, 2011

Gateway to the West, South Dakota

We left Luverne on Wednesday, September 14th and ten miles later crossed the border into South Dakota. The Garmin said it was 5.5 hours to our next stop, but that was with 75 mph speed limits and we can't travel that fast pulling a camper so it was a long day. We had paid reservations at a campground in Keystone that doesn't allow late arrivals so we had to be there by 8:00 pm, an unfortunate restriction because we had a few stops we wanted to make -- at the tourist traps, the Corn Palace and Wall Drug, and that amazing natural wonder, Badlands.

Well, it was clear as we went along that something had to give, so we dumped the Corn Palace and Wall Drug in favor of the loop off the highway into the Badlands. Before we got there, though, we had to travel two thirds of the state with mile after mile of sunflower fields, all gone to seed, but still impressive waving in the sun. We made a rest stop at an Amish market that had beautiful handmade quilts -- museum quality I'd say. I wish I had $800-$1500 to buy one. We bought pieces of cherry and apple pie instead and a loaf of dark rye bread we've been working on ever since. Yum! (Oops, Larry just reminded me that the Amish market was in Minnesota. I'm getting a little befuddled after all these days travelling. Our first stop was in Ohio and since then we've travelled through Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Is it any wonder I get up in the morning asking, "What day is it and what state are we in?" LOL!)

We reached the Badlands loop late in the afternoon and stopped to gas up before entering the park. Coming out of the store I noticed the adjacent field was teeming with wildlife -- prairie dogs. They were white except for a few light tan. I wondered if that was normal or if these were an albino strain. They chattered and squeaked as Larry and I sat for a few minutes at a picnic table watching them. What a chorus, I presume a warning. "Strangers...strangers...danger...danger!" One sat at the top of his hole squeaking and waving his tail like a warning flag. God's creatures delight the heart with their antics.

Entering the Badlands we had the sense of stepping into another world -- even another planet. The rock formations look like a movie set of a moonscape or something out of Star Wars. It gave me an eerie feeling. I wish we could have hiked, but we needed to move on to make our reservation so our trip through was hasty with just a few stops for photos.

By the time we got to Keystone it was dark. This is the first time we've had to set up in the dark and there were few lights in the campground. But we had a nice long level site so Larry had no problem backing in. Then we turned the car around and used the lights to see what we were doing. We've pretty much got our camping routine down to a science and were set up within half an hour. Then supper, catching up on postcards to the grandkids, and a little journaling about the trip.

What an adventure it has been so far with every new stop dazzling us with its uniqueness. What a country! From sea to shining sea it's filled with magnificent jewels -- not the least of which are its people. We have met such dear folk as we travel. Many have made our journey easier and certainly all have made it more pleasant. Think I'll pray them all tonight at bedtime. Thank you, Lord, for our exciting adventure.

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