Sunday, July 3, 2011

Beauty in the Badlands

Thursday, July 10th. So it turned out the one night we didn't put the fly on it rained. We quickly got up and tossed the fly on and covered the bikes before getting what sleep we could. But like always, we awoke to the sauna. At least the mosquitoes were leaving us alone this morning. We broke camp and started up the auxiliary road. The road wasn't in bad shape initially but about a mile up the road it simply got HORRIBLE. It really got so bad I didn't know how much longer we'd last. We were going at least half speed it was just so shitty.

About three miles up shit-road we came to a dead end. Literally. The road just ended. We could see the highway about a half mile away, but walking through tall grass and fields seemed like more work than simply back tracking. So we biked all 3 miles back along the gravely POS. A total of 6 miles of wasted work which is not a good way to start the day.

Right before we got to the highway we came to a cute little church. I really need to find a bathroom and it appeared no one was there. We knocked a few times with no answer. The door was unlocked so we kinda just walked right in. That's right. We broke into a church. Josh is a man of God so I figured he could make some prayers and clear up our indiscretion. But c'mon, when ya gotta go ya gotta go. We filled up some water, apologized to the Big Guy for our B+E and hit the road.

There was no denying it. It was straight up hot today. By the time we got a move on I-90 it was the heat of the day and it was definitely taking it's toll. On top of that remember that whole "flat geography" thing I have been talking about? I was entirely wrong. There are no major hills or mountains. But the entire area was just a bunch of tiny rolling hills. Just enough to piss me off. I fueled myself with rage and took the lead over Josh.

A few miles outside Wasta I looked back to see Josh biking with someone else which was clearly perplexing. I waited up for them to catch up and learned he was a fellow Transcontinental biker who went by Smilin' Joe. A trucker from Pennsylvania. Really nice guy with one helluva laugh. We welcomed the company, discussed our routes and decided to bike together for a while.

Around 4pm the three of us made it to a town called Wall, SD. It's a weird place. You'll see signs for Wall for hundreds of miles in every direction. It's this little tourist trap in literally the middle of nowhere. We stopped at their main attraction Wall Drugstore which was had everything but pharmaceuticals there. Things such as this-

As you can see, all clearly important things.

Afterwards we went across the street and grabbed a pizza with Smilin' Joe. It was a really damn good pie. The whole town seemed to have a atypically large amount of young foreign employees. We grabbed our waitress (who turned out to be Ukrainian) and asked her how on earth she ended up in Wall, SD. Turns out she's part of a "work in America" programs where college students sign up to spend a summer working in the good ol' US of A. This poor chick probably thought she was gunna be in the Big Apple or LA or something and ends up in one of the smallest cities on Earth. I felt bad for her but hey- welcome to America babe.

We finished our food and Josh and I decided to rest a bit. Smilin' Joe on the other hand was determined to make it further today. We said our goodbyes and wished him luck. He was a nice dude, but I feel better running this operation with 2 men. I'm not sharing my Joshypants with anyone! While he left we decided to order a second pizza. It was just that good!

Around 6pm we were debating what to do with our day. It was hot. Like balls hot. 95 degrees hot. And I do not do well in the heat. I was concerned how far we would make it and where we'd refill our water if the heat continued tonight/tomorrow. Regardless, Josh convinced me to not be lazy and get moving.

On our way out of wall we saw a few signs for the Badlands National Park. I had always heard great things but wasn't really sure what to expect. It was hot, it'd tack an extra 20 miles on to the trip, and I was feeling lazy. On the other hand we had purchased a National Park Pass back in Yellowstone and felt inclined to get the most bang for our buck. I mean, when else would we ever be back here again? Might as well go take a peak. And God was I glad we did! Here's a comparison. The entrance to the park was a very gentle hill. Here's before the hill, then right after...

A shocking night and day difference!

It was just so amazing! So beautiful! For as far as the eye can see massive rock spires jutting up from nowhere! Gorgeous streaks of red and yellow and brown. You just can't describe it well enough. No photo here will do it justice. As the evening cooled we took our time and took in the gorgeous scenery.

We biked well into the night. There was a campground on the eastern edge of the Park we planned on stopping at. It was a real cool experience seeing the park at night. I must admit, the Badlands really impressed me. To date it is without a doubt my favorite sight on this trip.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 59.9
Total mileage- 1591.0

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel no shame in admitting this, but the first time I saw a Jackolope when I was in Montana, I thought they were a real animal.