Break(ing) in the Bad(Lands)

Alexandra & David
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Travel Tales, On On! Brake(ing) ~in the~ Bad(lands)

* Break Bad * is a term with many meanings. One of them relates to adapting to a new lifestyle. One that is totally different from the one you had. Or it can mean someone who is *good*, or *follows rules & regulations * but who then adopts behaviours which deviate from that, behaviours that could be seen as *bad*. Rest assured that while we are certainly adapting to a new-to-us lifestyle (from sailboat cruising to highway driving), there were no rules broken during today’s Adventures. Other than (perhaps) braking when we shouldn’t have, or (perhaps) braking a little too often to the chagrin of anyone who might’ve been stuck behind us. And of course (perhaps) this pun of a play on words.

We’re somewhere on the road again, this time driving along an inconspicuous two lane state highway. It’s sunny and hot and dry, the skies bluer than blue and the landscape that surrounds us quite blah and nondescript. The green prairie grasses are billowing in the wind, showing no promise of what was to come.

Dave braked suddenly and hard when I yelled “Stop the Car!”, and I instantly focused my camera lens on the brown wooden “Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway” sign. “In here” I exclaimed, pointing my finger along the stretch of highway that disappeared over yonder horizon.

The Badlands Loop, or South Dakota Highway 240, is a breathtaking Journey through some intensely dramatic Lands, that were way back when (geologically speaking) the bottom of a very wet streambed. With time and extreme temperatures the streams evaporated, the winds gusted and eroded, and the lack of rainfall certainly didn’t help. The landscape spiralled out of control, emerging from the horizon dry and rugged and jagged.

Would you believe that the Badlands didn’t exist until 500,000 years ago? And with each passing day the formations are eroding and changing, growing and disappearing. Who knows what it will look like tomorrow, or if they’ll even exist 500,000 years from now?

The Visitor Centre informs us it takes about 1 hour to navigate the approx 35 miles of the Badlands Loop Road. “If you don’t brake too often” continued the Park Ranger, with a smile. Back in our MoHo, a sudden brake at the Stop Sign, a Left out of the Parking Lot, and we were on our way. What happens next was a true episode of Brake(ing) ~in the~ Bad(Lands).

We drove along the road ahead of us revealing nothing. And then, almost out of nowhere, a rock formation appeared. A little small, a little grey, a little jagged on top. We kept driving the curvy road and the rock formations exploded exponentially, bigger and bolder with each passing twist in the road.

The Lakota people named this place Mako Sica, or “Lands Bad” . The French-Canadian fur trappers travelling through here also called this place “les mauvaises terres” (bad lands). Today, in the comfort of our MoHo, we found ourselves braking every few minutes (thank Goodness there was no traffic behind us!) as we stopped at every turn and corner, scenic overlook or not, for that picture perfect Photo Op.

We spent the day getting in and out of the MoHo as we hiked the numerous trails. Driving through the passes where we were left gasping at the majestic height of rugged walls of sediment and rock that surrounded us, marvelling at the sharply eroded buttes, and mouths agape at the jaw dropping views of colourful and indescribable pinnacles and spires.

There are two designated campgrounds at the park (Cedar Pass and Sage Creek) for those interested in staying and exploring for longer periods of time (reservations recommended). We hadn’t planned for either, so no braking here! But we did stop for Lunch at the conveniently placed and well shaded picnic table, hot soup and sandwiches courtesy of MoHo’s well stocked galley cupboards.

That afternoon we just *had to* brake for some wildlife snaps, and for a scramble up some dusty hilly terrains to capture this splendid shot of our amazing LTV Unity IB.

And then just as it had all dramatically appeared out of nowhere, it all disappeared away into nothingess. We were back on the two lane state highway. It was still sunny and hot and dry. The skies were still bluer than blue and the landscape that surrounded us was once again blah and nondescript. The green prairie grasses were still billowing in the wind, except this time we knew exactly what secrets they were hiding.

Two hours later I yelled “Stop the Car” as I eagerly pointed at the brown wooden sign, and read out loud “Horse Thief Lake Campground”. Dave braked, suddenly and hard, turning left and heading towards the campground office, enquiring about any openings for the night.

Moments later we were backed into our non serviced cement pad of a lot, instantly level with no overhead branches to worry about. A hard pull up on the Emergency Brake, and we were home.

The next morning, we grinned as we grabbed our hot coffee and settled in our comfy seats, this time releasing the Brake and shifting into Drive, wondering what new Adventures waited for us over yonder horizons.

On On !!


Alexandra & David

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