Onur first visit to South Dakota’s Badlands National Park back in 2009, it was hard to stop taking photos. The same held true with our return engagement, which is why they’re getting two galleries. This one features a key difference from the other one: signs of life in the photos besides rocks, nature, and geological beauty. Animals! People! Literally signs! And more!
Show of hands: who wants an entry that contains more pictures than words? The sort of blog post you can scroll through in twenty seconds or less and still feel as though you’ve given the author an appropriate amount of attention?
Wow, that hurts, y’all. But maybe we can accommodate.
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.
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!
Continuing my stroll down Memory Lane to revisit the spirits of road trips past, while looking forward to the spirit of road trips yet to come.
2009: South Dakota and friends
Our longest drive to date, our first foray into the Mountain Daylight Time zone, and our introduction to South Dakota, land of a thousand casinos. There’s more to see than mere impressive Mount Rushmore.
The Badlands greet you on your way into Rapid City, major tourism hub.
Custer State Park, located in the Black Hills, is inhabited by animals accustomed to being spoiled rotten by tourists. They have no compunction about invading your personal space, and may be the secret masters in charge of the park. Notice how Intrusive Burro is very intrusive.
When you’re done with Rushmore, you can visit the other massive stone monument in the area, the perpetually in-progress Crazy Horse statue. The ongoing project is taller than Rushmore and funded entirely with private donations. The nearest approach is even more distant than Rushmore’s observation area, but you can do what I did for an extreme closeup: max out the digital zoom on your camera, pop a quarter into the stationary viewers, jam your camera lens into the viewer eyepiece, and snap away.
Since we were only a few dozen miles away anyway, we spent one day on a diversion into neighborly Wyoming, home of Devil’s Tower, the free-standing mesa As Seen On Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Bring your own mashed potatoes.
Our primary destination was Virginia Beach, but I spent the week under the weather and trying my best not to dampen our spirits. The three of us also discovered something unanimous about ourselves on this vacation: none of us actually enjoy beaches. Consequently, many of our stops on the way to and from Virginia Beach were more interesting to us.
Largest of those was the U.S.S. Wisconsin, decommissioned and moored in Norfolk. Tours are guided by retired veterans proud to be serving as tour guides even when the weather is in the triple digits.
One of the nicest looking places in the area was Natural Bridge, great for scenic photos and some of the most unusual roadside attractions nearby. One caution: if you love animals, you might want to skip their zoo.
All photos are excerpted from lengthy travelogues that I wrote for each of our last several vacations for fun and posterity. If it weren’t for humility and concerns about copyright issues (will theme parks really throw a tantrum if their mascots appear in your published photos?), I’d consider compiling them into a genuine Book, also for fun and posterity.