Friday, September 28, 2012

The Badlands

We had a great day today.  We started out heading farther west and then stopped at a couple of museums and I took a bunch of pictures of the landscape.  The views changed from extremely flat where we  could see forever - Sweetz could only guess at 15 miles.  I don't really know, except the views just went out of our focus.  And my pictures don't do it justice. At times there were only two colors to be seen:  golden brown on the earth and pale blue in the sky.  As the day progressed, more and more fluffy white clouds filled the blue sky and it was gorgeous.  We saw some huge acreage where fires burnt the ground going right up to some homesteads, but they all seemed to have been  spared, but only by inches. 

As the hours passed, there were fewer and few trees until there were only a handful in the entire scene.  We saw a few deer along the side of the fields (one buck and three doe) lying down in the grass just looking at us.  There were a few horses at one farm and there were lots of cows (brown, black, and mixed colors) grazing on the driest grass on the thousands of acres along the highway.  Must have been something because harvesters had cut and rolled thousands of rolls of hay along the miles which were sitting in the fields waiting for a truck to pick them up.  Some were scattered singly along the property, others farmers had stacked them up in maybe stacks of ten.

Then the land changed and it became rolling hills, and then flat again, and then a few beautiful lakes, small towns dotted the highway many miles apart.  We crossed the Missouri River with the area dotted with lots of homes.  Then after we crossed the river, the landscape dried out again.  We checked out several of the towns and they were mostly centered around the needs and life of a farming community. 

We even saw several huge sunflower fields, with their heads drooped over drying.  There appeared to be no predators to bother them.  I did wonder how they got pollinated - guess there are bees or some such insect around.  I did notice there were no birds.  No birds!  Can't even imagine.  But we did see birds in the towns. 

We stopped at a couple of museums which was interesting learning of the nature of this area's history.  We ate lunch and dinner in two different mom & pop diners which is nice to get away from the chains - and they sure have some of the best food too. 

We toured an authentic prairie sod house and buildings that a family called home as they tried to eke out a life under extremely difficult circumstances.  They could buy these 160 acre tracts for $18 and they had to be married and stay there for five years.  Many didn't make it so packed up and left. 

On down the road a bit further we entered the Badlands National Park.  I was thrilled to have seen the beauty of God's handiwork.  I also got hundreds of photos which I really need to thin down.  There were some cows of some sort grazing in the bottom land, and also saw what seemed like some long-horned sheep.  There was a museum at one of the stops so we checked that out and saw some of the native animals and vegetation which can be seen in that area.  And there were lots of signs to watch out for poisonous snakes!!!  So I had no trouble staying on the trails.

Not sure what we're doing tomorrow - but it will be interesting and fun!

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