The Open Road

Hiking the Badlands Doesn’t Seem So Bad

On our last day in the Badlands, we ventured into the less popular southern half of the park. This part of the park is further from the highway and doesn’t have as many of the Badlands characteristic features. Still, it is not without its charm. It is jointly managed by the parks service and the Pine Ridge Reservation. After we stopped at the southern visitors center, we headed back north again on Bombing Range Road. During WW II this land served as target practice for B-17s in training. We turned off the black-top onto Sheep Mountain Road and drove up onto the bluff. We parked at the sign warning that 4-wheel drive was recommended, if you were to drive further. Our Prius is not all that much of an off-road vehicle. We set off on foot. Much of the hike was through tabletop flat fields of green grass. It had been a wet spring and everywhere there was green.

Occasionally, the dirt road would come close to the edge of the butte and treat us to a vista of true badlands, rough land for miles and not a sign of mankind. In fact, we didn’t see anyone on our hike. There was not much wildlife, some birds, but no bugs. It is unusual to have one of our National Parks all to yourself. We walked to the end of the road, which overlooked a rugged canyon and enjoyed the lunch that we had packed in. After lunch, we walked back to the car, which was waiting where we had left it. 

Bike, Bike, Bike…

Florida Great Blue Heron

We didn’t see this heron yesterday, when we bicycled in the park, but we did see egrets. It was cold, about forty and I’m sure that the egrets were thinking that it was a lot nicer on Friday and why did I come north again so soon? The spring peepers were croaking, but because of the temperature, their peeps were at a much reduced frequency and at a lower one too. (I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure that sentence out.) Saturday, was the stormy day and I only ventured out twice, once to retrieve the paper (barefoot) and again to go to the store. There were plenty of other shoppers in denial there, shivering in t-shirts, sandals, shorts and sleet. I felt so manly, while wearing my first pair of big boy pants for a week. It was one of those Unforgiven days here, bad enough to almost kill Clint Eastwood. The sparrows that usually inhabit the bush behind the back porch, were instead clinging to its screen, just to get under the eaves.

There is flooding, as described on the national news, but it is nowhere near as bad as ’93, at least not yet. If you recall, the ’93 flood didn’t crest until summer. For now, it’s just a matter of rounding up all of the usual suspects. That being the habitually flooded. It will take months more of very heavy rain, to come even close to the ’93 flood. Although, we did attend a Science-on-Tap talk on regional flooding and almost every river in the bistate area has experienced higher flood levels then since ’93. Maybe the weather is not the problem?

“Last week, it seemed that all of the bad guys got away with it, Donald Trump, Jussie Smollett and worst of all Duke.” — Thank you, Colin Jost. Last night, at least one bad guy went down, when Michigan State beat Duke, for the Final Four, by one point, in the final seconds. Live by the clock, die by the clock.

Oh yeah, big bike ride this month! Got to get our tender tushes in shape. Turn them into hard asses. You’ll all probably will get tired of hearing about our bike exploits soon enough, but yesterday we did notice one oddity. Three paddle boats had been mysteriously displaced from the boathouse to the “temporary” police pasture west of the park’s department yard (about a quarter-mile, plus 100′). Could it have been from last weekend’s storm? The wind wasn’t that strong and there wasn’t that much rain. One or two would be accidental, but three seems deliberate. Could it be that the police are retraining their horses as sea horses? Nah. Most boats are just holes in the water, but I think that these hulls have been repurposed to become water troughs.