Day 241 – Badlands and Black Hills
I don’t think I can describe the badlands any differently
than I did yesterday. Rock formations of
clay and ash protrude from the prairie land and encompass rich fossil beds from
the time that has become to be known as the golden age of mammals. I spent the morning walking a handful of
trails under intense sun. The boardwalk
on The Door Trail and The Window Trail led into the rising sun. I suspect the light would have been better
had I walked them at sunset last night…oh well, the bands of colors were still noticeable.
In addition to taking the boardwalk trails, I also took The
Notch Trail which led over the rough terrain.
The loose rock crunched under my feet as I followed the path to a log
ladder which took me to a ledge that weaved its way around the spires. The hike provided close up views of fossilized
remains and ended overlooking the White River Valley.
After returning the way I came, I took a final walk along a
boardwalk that displayed fossil replicas of creatures that once roamed the area
including things like the Merycoidon, the Messohippus, the Hyracodon, the Hyaenodon,
the Stylemys, and the Archaeotherium.
Yeah, that’s what I said…I’ve never heard of these animals that look like
pigs, turtles, and horses…and neither has spell check!
We followed the scenic road through the Badlands and exited
the park via a dirt road to Scenic. From
Scenic we took Highway 44 west to Rapid City where we spent the afternoon. VANilla carried us up Skyline Drive to
Dinosaur Park for a view of the city.
Frankly, I think the fake, green painted cement monsters were more
interesting than the Rapid City skyline, but others may disagree. The good news is a cache was hidden at this
park, so I have now checked South Dakota off the list. Montana, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, and
Hawaii are the only states where I haven’t logged a cache. Perhaps Hawaii and Alaska will make it on to
my travel radar next year!
While in Rapid City, we also visited the Museum of Geology
at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. It was free to visit and very interesting. Displays
included meteorites, several types of crystals, fossils, and dinosaur
bones. A few displays showcased the
whole dinosaur specimen! I could have
spent much more time here, but a storm was approaching and VANilla’s windows
were open for Petey. Not to mention, the
campus was home to a webcam cache I wanted to do before I got soaked. Unfortunately, I needed a second person’s
help who would have been stationed at a computer with a mouse to capture my
photo. I had hoped I could pull it off
with my iphone! We turned in at the
local Wal-Mart and plan on visiting Mount Rushmore in the morning. ETB