Posts Tagged ‘Badlands’

for One Word Sunday

An early start soon had me in Chamberlain, South Dakota, the place to “cross the wide Missouri“, the river in full spate after all the rain.

On the other side, the land stretches out seemingly forever, justifying the speed limit of 80 mph.

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© janet m. webb

Yellow Mounds, Badlands, South Dakota

for One Word Sunday and Lens-Artist Challenge: Blending in or Standing Out

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In my last post about the Badlands, this plant appeared in one shot.  I thought it was worth a closer look, so here it is: Wooly Verbena/Vervain.  These 1-4 foot tall wildflowers attract many species of bees and butterflies to the Badlands.  Plains Indians used this plant in their teas to calm stomach problems. The color especially pops in a landscape of tans and browns.

We’ve covered over half of the almost 32 mile Badlands loop and stopped at most of the 14 overlooks along the way.  The eclipse is over, so that light is back to normal.  I’m glad you were able to take the time to drive with me.  85% of people who rated the loop for Trip Advisor gave it an “Excellent” rating, 12% “Very Good.”  I heartily agree.  This eastern part of the loop shows off a bit more of the grassland part of the park.  Sit back and enjoy.

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The Badlands are more than just fossil beds and colorful layers.  Within the park is a large expanse of mixed-grass prairie, home to the black-footed ferret (the most endangered mammal in North America, bison, bighorn sheep, badgers, elk, coyotes, deer, antelope, bobcats, porcupines, and, of course, prairie dogs.  The official park site says “scientists have observed 39 mammal species, 9 reptile species, 6 amphibian species, 206 bird species, and 69 butterfly species.” All have to be able to handle extreme temperatures and find shelter, whether in burrows of their own making or by taken over those belong to something else.  Others survive through hibernation or dormancy or by taking shelter in canyons or other low spots.

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I know it’s a bit early, but we want to get on the road. You snooze while I load the van, then we’ll stop for breakfast at County Fair.

Can you believe that we got 2 eggs, toast, and almost an entire dinner plate of crisp-on-the-outside hash browns for $3!!  What a great place!  What? Yes, I dug in too fast to get a photo.  Sorry about that.  Into the van and fasten your seat belt. The rest of South Dakota and Wyoming await.

This part of South Dakota still looks like (and is) farmland, but when we get to Chamberlain and cross another wide river, the Missouri, the landscape will change to more grazing, although we’ll also start seeing fields of cheerful bright yellow sunflowers.

Whenever I cross the Missouri, I think of an American folk song we sang when the girls were little. I’d play “Oh, Shenandoah” on the piano and we’d all sing.  Here’s a version I like, although the lyrics are slightly different than the ones we sang.

© janet m. webb

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Everywhere you travel, you can find stone. There are even countries where people, especially woman, are still being stoned. Hopefully that type of stone that will disappear soon, although I don’t hold out much hope for that. But there are many beautiful examples of stone, made by God or man-made. Here are few examples from my travels, for the travel theme of this week, “Stone.”

This stone provides an excellent view of the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, a view we cherish every summer.  Elevation here is around 7,000′ and one of the special joys is that there’s no cell phone coverage unless you get closer to the edge of the mountain range, down the road and to your left a short distance.  There is now, however, internet, albeit slow internet, which makes my blogging life while on vacation much easier.

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Imagine you’ve gotten rid of almost everything you own, packed the rest in a covered wagon, made your hot, dusty way across the Great Plains and as your team of oxen pull you slowly through South Dakota, you suddenly spot all this stone–the Badlands.  While it might be better and easier to get around or through than the Rockies, I can’t imagine it brought joy to the hearts of the pioneers.  However, it brings joy to a variety of animals and all humans who take the time to drive through and appreciate its beauty.
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Glimpsed through a gap in an old Provencal wall, is a sight familiar to fans of le Tour de France. The top of Mont. Ventoux,  Windy Mountain, is bare due to trees being taken for ship-building, beginning in the 12th century.  Although areas are being reforested, the bald top rises majestically above everything else in the area.

When in Provence, it behooves you to visit at least a few wineries.  Our favorites, at least so far, are located in the appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), “controlled designation of origin”, of Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  During  visit to  Chateau la Nerthe, I spotted this bit of stone in the courtyard.  It was unfortunate that we could only bring back a few bottles of their outstanding wine, but they have begun importing to the US, so perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to find some for yourself.  If not, I highly recommend a trip to Provence to buy some.  🙂

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