29, 30 September 2013
From Custer State Park, we headed to Rapid City for Mass, had a quick stop at Wall Drug for ice cream, and then drove on to Badlands National Park. We camped one night in the free Sage Creek Campground, which is a single loop, remote and undeveloped except for a horse corral area, pit toilets, and picnic tables with attached windbreaks. I learned that the gravel road into this campground varies from year-to-year in the degree of washboarding. This year it wasn’t too bad, but it would be a good idea to call ahead just in case if you’re thinking of coming.
Although Great Husband was suffering with a migraine, I had a great time here. First thing in the morning, there were bison passing through the campground. One was giving himself a hearty scratch on a picnic table and then they both pawed at the ground and rolled in the dust to take a bath.
I loved the general isolation here Sage Creek Campground, combined with meeting some very friendly fellow campers. Across the loop was a curious, dark gray, boxy, truck-topper-type of camper, which had very military-appearing heaviness to it. Great Husband noticed that it had German license plates and started calling it the Panzerwagen! Although I consider myself on the shy side, I could not resist calling out “Hallo!” to these people and it led to a very interesting visit, a little bit of German usage on my part, and a tour of the Panzerwagen. Yes, this couple was from Deutschland, and the inside of their camper was absolutely stylish and efficient. They had bought the vehicle empty, designed and built the interior themselves, travelled throughout Europe in it, and then shipped it across the Atlantic. It was so creative inside—full of terrific sliding storage bins, and classy stylistic touches. They even had a massaging mattress, something similar to what you might use at the chiropracter's office. The Germans had just completed four months touring in Canada and were starting a full year of touring in the United States. We even talked a bit of politics. Alas, Germany is being illegally overrun with Turkish Muslims and the German government will do nothing about it.
Leaving the Panzerwagen, I encountered a man dressed in a cowboy hat and looking very western, but he turned out to be from Wisconsin. He and his friends brought ten horses to the Badlands and had “circled the wagons” (trucks and campers) down by the corral. The purpose of this formation was to protect their gear from the bison which might come through. The man told me that he raises horses back home on his farm, not to earn a living, but for the sheer joy of riding. He was enthused to be back here in this area where they could all ride as far and as long as they wanted without encountering any boundaries other than the Indian Reservation. I walked down to the corrals with the man and he told me about the various horses and ponies.
When Great Husband arose from his sick bed, we took a hike up the hill west of the campground. I was going strong and leaning into my walking stick, but when I took a break to breathe, I suddenly realized just how steep the path was. For fear of falling, I just could not lift the next foot to get back into the rhythm of climbing. Great Husband helped me with a push from behind and got a good laugh out of it.
We moved on to the east end of Badlands National Park later that afternoon and set up in Cedar Pass Campground. It was to be the last night of this week-long trip before heading home. We had been following news of the probable government shutdown and feeling sorry for fellow campers who told us they were on a big trip toward the national parks of the west, all to be shut down now on October 1. As we left Badlands National Park, orange cones were blocking all the scenic pull-offs. Seems to me that they could just lock up the visitors centers and restrooms and let the public continue to use the national parks unimpeded, even if there are no staff working. Bah humbug.
Towing note: After about six hours now heading east on I-90, we are averaging 16.9 miles per gallon.
Total miles this trip: 1257
|Sage Creek Campground, Badlands National Park|
See the little Escape on the left side.
|While the Wisconsin cowboys were out riding, we climbed|
the hill and took this pic of their wagons in a circle.
|Badlands National Park|
|Badlands National Park -- beautiful wrinkles|
|One day before the cones|