Before I explain how truly bad the Badlands are, I have finally been able to upload pictures.
Watching the sunset over Seattle
Yellowstone: the path up to Mystic Falls
From the top of the mountain we climbed in Yellowstone. The white is a geyser basin.
On the way to Mystic Falls.
Old Faithful not erupting...
...beginning to erupt...
...and then, erupting.
The Grand Tetons, as seen on our way out of Yellowstone.
Coors Field by bike.
Kt and I playing a little impromptu Heart and Soul downtown.
Yarn flowers on the fence noticed on the Denver bike tour.
One mile high on the capitol steps.
Examining the view 14, 258 feet high
From the top with Kt and our new Denverian friend, Cody.
(In Kt's defense, it was cold. And the hat is borrowed. She does still have hair.)
We rolled out of Denver early this morning in pursuit of Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands. Yesterday we enjoyed our last day in Colorado at the Boulder Art Festival and then closed our night with Jazz in City Park. Now, sitting in a motel (yes, we were supposed to camp, I'll get to that) I'm amazed at how quickly our time in Colorado sped by. We saw so much while there and were so excited to have nice weather.
Our trip to Mt. Rushmore was uneventful as we traveled back through Wyoming to South Dakota. With a few minor hick-ups (who knew you have to pay CASH to park in Mt. Rushmore?) and the kindness of the parking lady who let us in anyways, we marveled at the faces in the mountain. First impressions? They're much higher than they appear in pictures.
We walked the short loop to get closer to the giant faces and took numerous pictures before we sat down to lunch. Though our time there was short, it was still amazing to realize I was seeing something that has become so iconic in person. It was also amazing to realize just how much time, effort, planning and money went in to the sculptures.
From there we continued east to the Badlands and reached the park just in time to set up our tent as black clouds rolled over the startling landscape we are now in. We popped our tent up in record time (4.59 minutes) threw in our sleeping bags and pillows and climbed back into the car as the first giant raindrops began to fall. As Kt and I congratulated ourselves at our marvelous timing, we watched something terrible happen: wind.
Massive and violent wind gusts began to sweep through the flat land the camp site is located in and proceeded to literally flatten our tent. Kt and I watched in shock, horror, and a somewhat comic disbelief at what was happening as poles bent straight and stakes went flying. The few tents around ours were also flattened and I began to wonder if the Wicked Witch of the West would soon be flying by on her bicycle. Thankfully, no witches were spotted and the storm blew over relatively quickly so we could survey the damage. I felt like we were back in the dub PB after a hurricane hits and all the neighbors slowly peek their heads out their doors to see what's left of the hood. The RV residents wandered over to ask if we needed help and those of us with demolished tents compared damage. Kt and I were actually very lucky with only one snapped stake, a broken pole and minor water damage to pillows and blankets. At that point we threw our hands up, took pictures of the double rainbow and looked for the nearest hotel. Which is a motel.
Our spirits are far from damaged and we even managed to duct tape our pole to some semblance of working order to help our tent dry out. We will stay in our uber fancy motel tonight, enjoy the 100 year old sourdough (really?) pancake breakfast in the morning, hike the crazy landscape and decide whether to stay another night or move on early.
We are so lucky that this happened near the end of our trip when we have no other plans to camp. We are also so fortunate to have found a vacancy quickly as many people from the park left to find other accommodations.
From this point the adventure continues as we move back towards the east. Remember, it's always an adventure.