Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Badlands National Park, SD

From Wiki: 
Badlands National Park, in southwest South Dakota, United States preserves 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States.  The Badlands Wilderness protects 64,144 acres (25,958 ha) of the park as a designated wilderness area and is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America.
I must admit, I had never heard of this park, and moreover, the real makeup of the park.  We were in awe of the diversity of landscapes the park offered.  Located right in the middle of Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, and the Pine Ridge Reservation, there was so much to see.  We had beautiful weather the two days we were out and about, however, the morning of our departure found us in the middle of over an inch of rain.  YUK!
The unusually looking landscapes of the eroded hills reminded us a moonscape, or something foreign from our own world.
Another thing we found interesting was that we were able to walk into and onto just about everyting.  It seemed that they didn't care or, perhaps footsteps wouldn't hurt anyting.  Kids were all over these hills playing and climbing.  Yep!  School's out, and that means from now till Sept, we share our space with kids.  Al, wait till after Sept, which I think you will anyway.  Don't get me wrong here.  We have six grands ourselves.  The difference is that they are well behaved and their parents know when they need to be corrected.  Some of these parents out here just let their kids abuse and offend anyone without regard for the shared space.  PEOPLE POLLUTION!
The sky was so blue here in the Badlands today.  And the clouds had a nice punctuation to the day as well, and the landscapes.
I did a little Picasa touch-up here of the "boomer" making up to the north.
The Badlands NP is actually comprised of two distinct levels:  Upper and lower plains.  The upper is continually eroding into the lower, and this has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years.  A little touch-up below.
A look back at one of the turnouts and some of the people pollution.
Oh, they had a prarie dog town as well up on the upper grasslands.  We were cautioned (by the signs) wherever there were prarie dogs present, to not go into the area, that there had been a plague going around the "dogs" and this plague was able to be spread to humans, so we steered clear of the little "cuties".
Nancy, getting up close and personal with one wanting to pose.
Up the road (SD240) at I-90 intersection we took a little and interesting visit to the Minuteman Missile NHS.  What a neat place.  We had no clue.  The strategic site has been closed since 1991, and all the control centers and silos had long since been destroyed as a result of the SALT treaty.  This one has been preserved, as well as the silo site some three miles away.  This technology has since been replaced with the Minuteman III series of ICBMs (450 of them to be exact) and are generally located in mid-America as were the II series.
Inside the upper level of the control/security room just inside the gate.
From the gate looking at the building, just about a half-mile from I-90.
I must admit to something:  I am a little squeamish these days of closed-in spaces and underground places such as this place 30 feet below the surface.  So, Nacy, the trooper that she is, went down and took the photos following of the missile control room.
I did make it this far, to the above vault door, but jumped back on the elevator and went right back up.
The upper level living quarters.
And Nancy caught me looking down the barrel (silo) of a gun and a missile that had the firepower of 60% of ALL the bombs dropped during WW2.  Wow!  And we had 1,500 of these little guys during the cold war era.
We drove a few miles up the I-90 into Wall, SD and walked around a little while and had lunch.  Wall Drug, world famous according the billboards coming into town.
This is where had lunch.
I took a couple shots of the surronding hills right next to the RV park inside the Badlands NP (Interior, SD gate), as the evening sun put a different hue on the slopes.
So, as we end our time in a beautiful National Park, the Badlands was indeed a unique place, and one we will soon not forget.  In fact, we intend to come back here and spend a few more days exploring more of the area and Oglala Native Americans on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  And the Wounded Knee area is close by as well.  This area was Chief Sitting Bull's "stomping grounds" and is rich in Native American history.  Now that I think about it, most all of North America is rich in Native American history.  And I am truly wanting to learn as much as I can of that history.  They are the true pioneers of this land.  So, we are headed to Iowa, via Nebraska, hopefully to get into less storm weather and into some warmer temps.  Till then, RVing Beach Bums.