Thursday, May 29, 2014

Where the Colors are Kept


May 23

A pleasant breeze rolls across the meadow where we are parked as the first rays of day shine into our window.  

Dew is thick in the surrounding grass, causing heavy clods of mud to cake shoes and paws while out for morning "business."  

We are in Sage Creek Campground on the north west end of Badlands National Park.  



This campground has no water, but there are pit toilets and a place for trash and recycling.  It is spacious, mostly deserted during the day, and very secluded.  About twenty miles from anything else and twelve miles down a dirt road, the only sounds we hear are crickets, birds, and the heavy snuffling of buffalo as they crop the surrounding grass.  

Today is a good day for exploring, so we head out early and drive the dirt road towards the east.  

There is a bison trail leading from the main road into the wilderness and it looks like an easy hike for the dogs.  Otis and Murray gallop enthusiastically towards oblivion, trying to pee on every shrub and weed.  


A wild turkey struts his stuff to an invisible audience.


Back in the car and driving east, we finally hit paved road and the scenic bypass of I-90 that goes through the most spectacular part of the park.  


Bands of pugs run wild in these hills.
A winding and at times steep road wanders through mounds of brightly colored striations, sharp pinnacles, and occasional wildlife.



Trailheads and scenic overlooks allow visitors to get closer to the otherworldly beauty of this place.

A tiny Hoodoo (a geological formation caused by erosion of softer rock underneath harder rock)






We reach the eastern side of the park and drive through Cedar Pass Campground, just to check things out.  We see our third and fourth Airstream of our journey.


Cedar Pass Campground has spectacular views and full hookups, but the sites are cramped and too rich for our blood at $18 per night.  


Instead of driving back through the park, we exit on the south eastern side through the town of Interior, population 68.  The main industries seems to be campgrounds, putting up billboards for those campgrounds, and bee ranching.



Back at camp, I spot a black-billed Magpie.  


For some reason, when we were in the park four years ago, we named the first buffalo we saw "Pete."  I guess we ran out of names, because we named the next one Pete 2.  And so on.  We couldn't keep them all straight, so now all of the buffalo are Pete.  



A few Petes wander into our site and Otis is enthralled.  Murray just thinks they are big cows and he knows all about cows, so he goes back to sleep.  



As evening winds down, coyotes can be heard making their nightly yipping from behind the hills.  Birds sing and crickets chirp.  

We are so blessed.


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