Saturday, October 11, 2014

Driving West to Colorado: Day 2

Day two begins with breakfast in the hotel lobby and loads of cheap ground coffee and instant waffles.

On our approach to Badlands National Park, the first National Park I properly get to visit and explore with my father, we stopped at a gas station outside of Kakoda, SD (hey that rhymes!) for a fill-up. Clearly this tee-pee was worthy of a picture. Almost echoes back to the golden days of roadside attractions on the great American road trip. Onward to the Badlands...but before entering the National Park we had to stop at this. I mean, seriously, how could you not?. This is even more hilariously epic than the teepee. As you drive down 240, entering into Badlands National Park from the town of Cactus Flats, SD, you'll pass a 12ft concrete prairie dog.

True fact. Signs for prairie dog feeding? Why not stop to fuel our curiosity! Strong winds blew tumbleweeds across this fairly desolate roadside attraction. I also was able to get up close and personal with a few little critters. Check out the last picture! Crazy little animals these prairie dogs are. My dad and I both had never seen something quite as bizarre as this.

My dad and I both suggested visiting Badlands when planning out our route to Colorado months ago. I was stoked because stopping here would be my first time actually visiting and exploring a National Park. Number 1! And this for sure gets crossed off my bucket list of adventures.  Badlands National Park is sheer breathtaking and one of the coolest places I've ever been.

For dozens and dozens of miles, you'd see deep canyons, basins and sharp, jagged towering rock formations. What's neat, is that you can see the changes in color from the water levels, many years ago from all the erosion that eventually created this natural masterpiece. Oh, and we met a few Rocky Mountain Long Horn on the road that were within arm reach of our car. One day wasn't nearly enough time to really soak in and absorb this place's wild energy. I cannot WAIT to get back here again someday soon.

Another must-stop at on our road trip out to Colorado was Mount Rushmore, in Keystone, SD. For as long as I can remember, this national icon has been of interest to me, having learned about it in school and hearing stories about its insane sculpting process. My father, was equally just as excited to see this historical art piece carved into the side of a ginormous granite rock face. It definitely was a lot bigger than I had expected and surely drew a lot of  "Wows," out of my mouth. Let me tell you this, after reading up quite a bit about Mount Rushmore....holy cow they used a ton of dynamite.

The closer up you got, hiking around on some of the paths, the more details you could spot on each of the four presidents' stone faces. I never knew Teddy Roosevelt, the most bad-ass president in US history, actually had his glasses chiseled onto his ~60ft tall face on Mt. Rushmore. Sadly, the battery on my Canon DSLR camera died so all these next pics came from the cell phone. Driving back through the Black Hills as the sun set, we stopped for dinner at a hilarious grill that made you feel right at home.

Props to everyone at the Hat Creek Grill in Edgemont, South Dakota. Hands-down some of the best food I've ever ate and the country, small-town bar feel was too enjoyable. I'd highly recommend stopping if you're ever in the area. Oh...and what the heck is with the millions of Wall Drug Signs littering this gorgeous SD landscape?  Gross. Looks like I'll need to make another trip out to Rushmore at some point and get more, bigger and better pictures.

Back in the wagon with the western horizon in eyes. Continuing onward to Colorado, who knows where we'll end up tonight.