The year was 2008 and we were returning, via car, from a family reunion in Iowa to California. We had our youngest son and his wife with us. She’d never been in the west before (except to attend Stanford), so it was a new experience for her. We decided to take some time on our way back home to California to show them Glacier National Park and also the Badlands (which we had never seen before ourselves.)
Once you see them, you know why they are called the Badlands. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here (no, I didn’t see any – not even when I was a kid!!!!) Located in southwest South Dakota, the park covers 244,000 acres and protects an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. It is the largest protected area of mixed-grass prairie in the United States.
There is a strange, haunting beauty to the Badlands. I can’t see that they’re useful for much in terms of agriculture or cattle, but they can capture the imagination. They are not far from where Custer took his last stand. They remind me of the movie Thunderheart, starring Val Kilmer and Graham Greene, and in fact, much of the movie was shot on location in the Badlands. Some location names that might be familiar from the movie include Red Shirt Table and the Stronghold.
So that’s how this bad boy (me, of course!) wound up in the Badlands! It was hot and windy…and I wish I could go back and explore it some more. Maybe put on my breech-cloths and join in a native American sweat lodge and watch the ghost dances. Wouldn’t that be cool!!!!
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: a 1999 survey said that 19% of people who snore, snore so loudly that they can be heard through a closed door.