Saturday, June 28, 2008
South Dakota Travels Part 5
Thursday would be my last day in the west and I would began the long drive back to Viborg. My plan was to drive back through the Badlands National Park and then head back. As you drive along the Interstate you can see the outer boundaries of the Badlands area but as you head South and enter the park, an amazing otherworldly place opens up around you. I knew it would be interesting but after going there I think I found it to be the most interesting place I saw on the trip. It's a bit hard to describe so I'll let the pictures do the talking.
I wanted to get in another short run so once I got about 2/3rds of the way around the park drive I came to a parking area at one of the trailheads. There aren't many trails in the park so the choice was easy to make. The photo above was taken along the Capital trail. The trail is marked with metal post every few hundred feet but in areas like in the photo, the trail is not always clearly defined. With the mounds of dirt and rock all around and because of the hard surface, footprints don't show up in dry weather. It would be very easy to get dis-oriented and get lost. Fortunately most of the trail is easy to see once it opens up in the prairie but coming back I got slightly off course. I was only able to regain my bearing because I could catch glimpses of the parking lot when I was on higher ground.
Because of the recent rains the prairie was in bloom with a myriad of wildflowers and I was able to get a few shots of them on the run. I went another 4 miles, feeling ok but fighting a strong headwind on the return trip. Once again it was only about 57F while I was out running. After the run I took a short walk through a fossil interpretive area. South Dakota and Wyoming are known for vast amounts of fossil finds from many eras. In the badlands are many mammal fossils and in other parts of the State dinosaur bones including the worlds largest most complete T Rex have been found. I would really like to spend more time in this area in the future.
Finally it was time to head back to meet Frank and Karla back in Viborg so I began the long drive back east over the prairie. On the way I made a stop in Mitchell Sd to check out the famous Corn Palace which is decorated differently each year with corn over the entire exterior. I was disappointed to find that only the murals were decorated this year while the rest of the normally colorful areas were plain plywood so I didn't take a picture. Here is a site with some from previous years. Then the final hours drive back to Viborg and into another late day thunderstorm. Back in Viborg and more visiting with the Strunk family and then Saturday we drove back to Omaha for the flights home.
I really enjoyed my trip to SD and highly recommend to anyone to visit if they have a chance. I hope to go back someday and spend more time hiking in the beautiful areas I saw now that i have done the tourist visit.
Here are the last days photos