Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 10: Bonus Badlands Bonanza

Badlands postcard!

Portrait of a guy who won’t stop posting Badlands photos. Because he can. It’s either this or take on politics head-on. I’d rather jump down one of those canyons.

I said in our last chapter that I would probably save our remaining Badlands photos for the eventual outtakes section at the end of the miniseries. Ten minutes after clicking the “Publish” button, I wondered to myself: why wait? Let’s go wild with ’em!

See, this is the kind of arbitrary about-face that a writer can pull when his moods swing and he doesn’t have enough readers to question his choices or hold him accountable for his promises. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.


Here at the junction where plains meets pits, the contrast between stone and grass naturally represents the Duality of Man.

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.

As promised, please have some more Badlands. No, I’m not stalling so I can do other things with my evening, YOU’RE stalling so you can do other things with my evening.

Badlands Parking Lot!

At Badlands National Park, they paved only small portions of paradise and put up parking lots.

Badlands National Park!

Badlands viewed through South Dakotan bug guts on our windshield. By the time we completed this 2500-mile 9-day journey our rental car was trashed on the outside, coated with the remnants of countless slaughtered insects.


The negative humidity isn’t conducive to Badlands forests, but a handful of copses find a way.


So. Them Badlands, am I right.


That’s me sharing ALL THE BADLANDS.


That name again: Badlands! Be sure to Badlands wherever you shop, work, or bank.


For those just joining us: Badlands. Because some readers appreciate a thorough recap.


Badlands: they’re not what’s for dinner. Badlands: because you deserve a break today. Badlands: Think Different. Have You Driven a Badlands Lately?


Honestly, sharing these is far more fun than that Pacific Rim: Uprising review I’m still procrastinating. How am I supposed to upconvert “Ehhhhhhhh” into a 1000-word fun essay?


Coincidentally, “Ehhhhhhh” was also my opinion of Samantha Bee before this week. Little has changed. except headlines gave me a couple more words to add to my Twitter “Mute” filter. Not sure I can milk all that for 1000 words, either.


Don’t get me wrong: I support free speech more than I do a lot of other Amendments. But that doesn’t mean I have to listen to all the free speech. Consumer choice and discerning readership are all part of my curation process for triaging my mass-media free time.


Frankly, it helps my emotional health to avoid some of those debates. If I thought other internet users were interested in true communication, meaningful dialog, and changing minds through actual logical persuasion, maybe I’d be entrenched more deeply in that fray . But no one’s out there trying to change minds for real. It’s all about the visceral satisfaction of punching the faces of the other side, then basking in the approval of their own side. Until they misuse a single word, inflame their own side, and get themselves devoured alive by instantly former allies for their fleeting misstep. That isn’t change. That isn’t activism. That isn’t a better world.


Because you see, we’re discovering in modern online communities and social media in general the deep, dark, awful, terrible, no-good truth about 21st century life: the real Badlands were the friends we made along the way.

It took a dozen or so miles before the breathtaking awe of the Lord’s beautiful design finally became a little tiresome. The park exit was another dozen miles beyond that point. We stopped hither and yon for a few more differently hypnotic sights before crossing the park border at last and heading toward the town of Wall.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[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!]

3 responses

  1. Nice distraction while wedging in some social commentary. This series of pictures reminds me of a set of pictures I took at a tulip parade in Amsterdam. Hey, look here, tulips. And…tulips. Wait, there’s more…tulips. We humans get a little goofy with our cameras.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We do! We’re overwhelmed by pretty or unusual sights and convince ourselves we have to see every conceivable angle of it, or else we risk bringing back flawed photographic evidence for reliving our memories in the future. My son gets annoyed with us sometimes whenever we spend too many minutes taking pics of an experience instead of actually taking the time to *just* experience it in the moment.


      • My tulip-capturing days are far behind me now. I’m like your son in that constant camera action annoys me. Before digital, at least there was a cost control, now people just go nuts. I’ve gotten in the habit of buying postcards when I go places – those photographers tend to be more skilled than I!


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