Charlie and I just found out a couple days ago that Ryon had two Religion tests and two papers that he still needed to turn in to
finish his Religion course and that they are due Monday (June 15). Needless to say, we have been insisting that Ryon spend the time needed to finish his work, so he got up early this morning and Charlie took him to find a wifi connection to send in a paper and a test. Now he is half way done.
After they returned, we hooked everything up to pull out. I was nervous about whether we were going to be able to get out of that campground. This part of South Dakota usually gets around 12 to 15 inches of rain per year. The campground owner was telling us that they had had 12 inches of rain in the past two weeks. The ground was pretty saturated when we arrived in the Black Hills – we saw large puddles of standing water in many areas (and having 6 boys means that lots of them walked right through those huge puddles – all those wet shoes make for some really stinky feet!). Well, it rained all day on Thursday leaving the roads in the campground muddy. Our campsite was situated toward the bottom of a hill, so as soon as we turned out of our site we were going to have to go uphill in the mud. I was worried we weren’t going to get the speed and traction we needed to get out, but fortunately we had no problems. Thank you, God!
We got out on the road, heading to the Badlands. We weren’t exactly sure what the Badlands were but had heard they were beautiful (I can’t seem to find my AAA book for the Dakotas, so I haven’t been able to read much about anything in the area). We finally found a good map so that we could drive through as much of the Badlands as possible, so we pulled onto a dirt road. As we drove down that road, we saw very few cars. In a little while, we realized why – the road was closed. We turned on another road that led us out and around some of the park. We finally got back into the park and began a scenic drive. The drive was gorgeous. It was amazing to see the beautiful sandstone formations of many colors, often with bison roaming through them. The formations really looked like giant sandcastles. The sandstone appeared so fragile; it looked as if it would crumble apart if you tried to walk or climb on it. I could easily understand how the elements have eroded these formations to be what we see today. The film we saw said that the Badlands could totally disappear in 50,000 to 100,000 years due to erosion. We had a picnic, visited the Visitors’ Center, did the Jr. Ranger program, and finished our drive through the Badlands. I am so glad we decided to drive through there, and we all wished we had had more time so that we could do some hiking while we were there.
Back on the interstate heading east we drove through flat southern South Dakota seeing large farms for as far as the eye could see. We finally got off the interstate and drove to the town of Huron, SD for more Wal-Mart camping, not far from De Smet where we planned to visit the Ingalls Homestead, the setting for the majority of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books.