Lord willing, one of the life goals the Investigator and I have as a couple is to travel, at least once, to all 50 states in our country. We have made a pretty good start on that goal over the years and last year at exactly this time we took a road trip to Wisconsin for a family wedding encompassing eleven different states and over 5,200 road miles. The U.S. is a vast country filled with an expansive array of geological formations, animals and plants. I would like to share some of this amazingly beautiful and diverse land with you over the next few blogs.
We began our journey by traveling across our state to Idaho and on into Montana before entering the states of Wyoming and South Dakota on our third day out. These northern plains states have been made famous through old western novels, legend and folklore, and Hollywood westerns. This country was home to the likes of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill Cody.
We had been through here before so we skipped Mount Rushmore this trip and headed straight to the Badlands.
Our first major stop was to see Devils Tower located in the Northwest corner of Wyoming.
Declared America's First National Monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, you can learn more about it by clicking Here. It is held sacred by the Lakota Nation as well as many other tribes, who hold native American ceremonies at its location. It is also a favorite place for rock climbers.
From here we headed to Wall, South Dakota, gateway to Badlands National Park. After checking in to our hotel we took a drive out to have a look around. The Park consists of over 244,000 acres of prairie grasslands and rock formations. Here is a bit of information from the park site.
The Lakota people were the first to call this place "mako sica" or
"land bad." Extreme temperatures, lack of water, and the exposed rugged
terrain led to this name. In the early 1900's, French-Canadian fur
trappers called it "les mauvais terres pour traverse," or "bad lands to
Today, the term badlands has a more geologic definition. Badlands form
when soft sedimentary rock is extensively eroded in a dry climate. The
park's typical scenery of sharp spires, gullies, and ridges is a premier
example of badlands topography.
Here was The Investigator on the lookout for wildlife. After a little while he was able to spot this big horned sheep. Judging from the size of the horns, this was a female.
A little closer view.
Driving through the park, my photos didn't begin to capture all the variations of layers and colors all formed by a combination of erosion and volcanic action. The oldest formations are at the bottom and the newest are at the top. Once again if you want to learn more about how they were formed you can go Here
Everywhere we looked there were these yellow wild flowers. After some research I found out it was sweet clover, not native to the area. It fact, it was brought over from Europe, but as you can see it has flourished here
You may have noticed the clouds gathering as a thunderstorm approached. By the time we got to the visitor center the sky had darkened considerably and suddenly the skies opened up. We had to race inside to keep from getting drenched.
Once there were close to 80 million American Bison roaming these plains. When the land was settled they were hunted to near extinction. The park is able to support a herd of about 600 bison but we didn't see any. I had to settle for looking at this big fellow in the visitor center.
Once the storm had passed it was time to head back to the little town of Wall and get settled for the night.
Of course, you can't pass through South Dakota without
stopping in at the famous Wall Drug Store but that is a story for