Yesterday afternoon, Kt and I parted ways. Three nights after our Badlands blow out, we rolled into the Harrisburg, Pa train station where Kt went on to Philly for a few days, then to New York, while I'll stay with my parents in Winchester, Va. We will meet up again Thursday in DC and then continue to Fla. Life feels different when you know you'll be in one place longer than three days.
After the storm passed in the Badlands, and we enjoyed a night listening to the rain fall on the roof of our motel as opposed to our tent, we decided to stick with our original plan and spend two nights in the park. Now that the tent had been duct taped up, we felt confident that as long as no gale force winds began to blow, we could safely use it to our content.
We returned to the park in the morning to hike Notch Trail to an overlook of the White River Valley. The hike felt more like an obstacle course, as we hopped over drop offs, waded through (or dodged) mud puddles, climbed a ladder, and wove between the giant formations. The path varied from dirt, to prairie grasses to loose and slippery gravel. At one point we could hear the rattles from a snake over the chirping and creaking of the cicadas. Let's just say Kt got out of there fast.
The ladder, with surprisingly large spaces between rungs.
Dangerous cliff. Sweet. (Notice I sent Kt first)
At the end, in the Notch.
Over the valley
That afternoon we headed over to Custer State Park where we were promised that we would see more than enough bison to satisfy us. We drove the wildlife loop and were not disappointed on the 18 mile trip.
Kt, in heaven. I had to hold her back because she was convinced she could ride one. Silly girl.
Burrows. The norm.
Trying to bite me (or be fed).
The cutest thing ever!
We saw the herd of bison, the pronged antelope, elk, wild burrows, and some goats. We even made it back to Badlands in time to watch the moon rise over the cliffs.
Sunset over the Badlands
The next morning we drove through South Dakota and Iowa and into Illinois where we stayed for the night in Bloomington. We were definitely in the midwest as the temperature rose, the land flattened and crop dusters and corn became our new scenery. From there, we continued on to Columbus, Ohio (where I grew up) and visited some of my old stomping grounds before settling in at my wonderful friend Molly's house for the night. Molly and her husband Chad grilled some extremely delicious pizza and old friends, with new babies, came over for a fun night of catching up, good food, and laughter(I have no pictures of this night (like an idiot) so if any of you Ohioans have pictures please email me!). It was a wonderful time to catch up with people I've watched grow up and was definitely bitter sweet knowing I would be leaving in the morning.
And leave we did. Kt and I are continuing our separate journeys for the next week, but in a lot of ways it feels as if it's already over. Perhaps it's the return to familiar surroundings, or the lack of extreme open spaces and mountains. Whatever it is, it too is bitter sweet as I reflect on what's past but still look forward to what's ahead.
Please ignore our dorkiness and ridiculous comments in this video and instead enjoy the cuteness of the burrows.