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The road trip. Day 5: Badlands and more

The road trip. Day 5: Badlands and more

I'm not exactly a morning person, but I had no problem rolling out of bed to catch the sunrise across the plateau our ranch was on.

But the morning was made a few hours later when the donkey you may have seen lurking by the barn in a couple of other photos came over to say hello. We named him "Donkers" and he was beautiful and pure.

A tearful farewell bid to Donkers, we set off back toward the park to spend a few hours in the Badlands. 

 Ralph busted out his rally car pedigree to whizz up the dirt road.

Ralph busted out his rally car pedigree to whizz up the dirt road.

 We had to pass through the bustling metropolis of Interior, SD, to get back to the park

We had to pass through the bustling metropolis of Interior, SD, to get back to the park

I didn't really say too much while we were in the park - other than "wow" and "Holy..." and "Jesus Harold Christ" - so I'm not really going to say much more about the Badlands other than they're incredible. Being surrounded by such impressive swaths of earth makes you feel very small, but more in a awe-inspiring way than a helpless way. The earth staring at me was hundreds of millions of years old, and I think I know everything at 21. 

To feel better, Lia just blasted Chance 3 and we had a semi religious experience in an American national park.

 So very candid.

So very candid.

Suitably mindblown, we head north to the town of Wall, to complete our first "weird Americana" stop of the trip, at Wall Drug.

 *trumpets sound*

*trumpets sound*

Originally a drug store, it's now the town's main attraction. There's a restaurant (where I had a sub-par bison burger), a garden with a massive jackaloupe, a church, a leather good store... The list goes on. It's like kooky western Walmart. 

 The Yellow Mounds were formed from being an ancient tropical rainforest a few years ago. They were named because they were yellow. 

The Yellow Mounds were formed from being an ancient tropical rainforest a few years ago. They were named because they were yellow. 

And just because we decided we hadn't quite done enough for one day, we trekked on across the Mount Rushmore State to the main event. 

 It started raining lightly, but the grey skies worked to our advantage as the literal cliff faces and dark green foliage really popped against the colour. 

It started raining lightly, but the grey skies worked to our advantage as the literal cliff faces and dark green foliage really popped against the colour. 

Mount Rushmore ended up being one of my favourite parts of the entire trip. Firstly, it's not smaller than you'd imagine. Maybe Americans are conditioned to think things need to be massive to be impressive, but it was four faces carved in a mountainside. How much bigger would you want them?

To be perfectly honest, the monument was highlighted by our soundtrack of the very American road trip, the Hamilton Cast recording. (11 Tony awards. Holy moly.) Once we swallowed our pride and quickly googled which faces were on the wall, Lia felt bad for Teddy Roosevelt as he'd been put in the corner. 

 The monument had a walkway that wrapped around it, so you could see the cliff from different angles, and walk down to the artist's studio for the duration of the project. 

The monument had a walkway that wrapped around it, so you could see the cliff from different angles, and walk down to the artist's studio for the duration of the project. 

 Peace out, Mount Rushmore.

Peace out, Mount Rushmore.

Then we tried to go to the native American answer to Mt. Rushmore, called Crazy Horse, in the name of tourism and #equality, but admission to that piece of rock was $22. So we told the attendant to get stuffed, drove towards it to "turn around," took a few pictures from afar, and headed to our Airbnb at another piece of rock: Devil's Tower.

A non-road trip related post! There might be dragons

A non-road trip related post! There might be dragons

The road trip. Day 4: Sioux Falls

The road trip. Day 4: Sioux Falls