The journey has begun! Starting in Eagle River, WI we drove West.
Slowly smoothed by glaciers, the landscape of Western Wisconsin is flat and lake-spotted. Hwy 8 slices a swath of grey road through Aspen, Cottonwood, Maple and many pines. All the trees are vibrant, deep in the lush of summer. Huge grey and white collections of cumulous clouds billow above as we meandered toward Minnesota.
Driving through Minnesota at night is a fairly uneventful drive. The darkness of Hwy 23 is rarely interrupted by anything of note, except for the ominous, simultaneous red flashes from a line of wind turbine in the distance. And, Olivia, the corn capital of Minnesota:
Ah, yes. Corn in the morn’ – my favorite.
We crossed the Missouri River
and continued toward our first destination:
Badlands National Park, 82 degrees, 1.18p.m. MT. I loved the landscape of the Bandlands. Barren, and endless, with the biggest sky I have ever seen, it is nothing like the tree covered farmlands of Wisconsin. I could not get over how incredibly BIG my surroundings seemed. We clamored over the untamable erosion formations, picking further and further points to reach and balance on. It was amazing.
Despite the apparent lack of life of the Badlands, we were able to get our first shots of Western wildlife.
We left the Badlands more than satisfied with the first National Park experience of our trip – our appetite wet for what was to come next. However, our next stop was less than awe inspiring. As we had seen SO many signs for the famous Wall Drug in Wall South Dakota, we decided to check it out. I will tell you right now, this is the ONLY reason to go there:
One quick stop in Rapid City at the Firehouse Brewing Company for an amazing cup of gorgonzola ale soup, delicious Artichoke Dip, and an Extra Pale Ale later, we were headed to Mount Rushmore.
… and encountered a lot more wildlife
We did see one buffalo in the Black Hills, but the pictures we got of the elk were much better.
As we have entered the mountains, internet and cell phone reception is very difficult to find. I will try to keep up with this journey on inkinthebranches, but the old pen to paper journal has become the main record of this trip. Posts will appear when a sufficient amount of service does. (So family and friends that are trying to get in touch with us, email is probably the best option-we try and check it at least once a day, but again, service is very hard to come by. We are safe and sound-don’t worry.)
As we are embarking on this trip, we have with us an incredibly helpful book that was just published this year by our friend, Mike Oswald called “your Guide to the National Parks”.
Mike, we’re putting your book to the test this summer, and so far it has served us well!
Next stop, Wind Cave National Park!