Longtime MCC readers with superhuman memories, including and possibly limited to my wife, may recall we previously posted pictures from our Badlands experience here years ago and then here last year, plus a teaser in the previous chapter. At long last we now come to the entry I’ve all been waiting for: our official Badlands chapter, within the original narrative context. Of all the natural sites we’ve ever visited throughout our travels, we took more pics of the Badlands than any other…which means these took twice as long to whittle down to the following finalists. It’s entirely likely there’ll be a bit more Badlands in the “outtakes” entry at the end of this series. For now: Badlands!
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.
2008 was by far our least favorite road trip to date, and still holds the ignominious title as of 2018. Our next vacation had to be better. Step one was plain enough: we looked at Anne’s brainstorming list of future road trips and chose the one that screamed “dream vacation”. That’s what led to our long, long drive out to the farthest reaches of South Dakota and beyond. At nine days it was the longest we’ve ever taken. The farthest point of 1,180 miles made it the longest drive of our lives. It would be the farthest west we’d ever been up to that time. It was also our first vacation using exclusively digital cameras to record the experience, leaving behind the 35mm film of our childhoods forever. They weren’t expensive cameras for their kind, certainly not the most advanced as of 2009, but we did what we could with the resources and the amateur skill sets available to us.
We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
After the long drive west through virtually nothing, we exited I-90 and drove into Badlands National Park. Like Niagara Falls, pictures don’t really do the place justice.
South Dakota achieved statehood in 1889. The Badlands preexisted our occupation, but have been viewed as capital-M Monuments since only 1929 and weren’t labeled a National Park until 1978. I assume the paperwork took a while.
Travelers can navigate and sightsee the Badlands via twenty-odd miles of convenient highway. We parked a few times at different locations throughout and walked around at length, just enjoying the vistas, walking over mounds, climbing up miniature cliffsides, avoiding suspected rattlesnake harbors, and scaring Anne by standing over sheer drops at angles waaaaaay too sharp for her comfort. My son couldn’t get enough of the scenery or of his stepmother’s frightened expressions.
After several minutes of gleefully terrifying exploration, he also couldn’t get enough water in his system. The Badlands atmosphere isn’t just dry, it’s practically desiccative. The air around us was so dehydrated that it had to extract water from us to keep itself from disappearing into a vacuum.
So. Badlands, then.
To be continued!
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[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email signup for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]