Badlands National Park, SD: 70°
Mocksville, NC: 55°
Fairbanks, AK: 3°
Taken from my travel journal that I kept up with along our trip:
I'm writing this by flashlight in our tent at the Badlands. Sam and the puppies are asleep (lame... it's only 8:30pm). What had such a great day exploring the park. Badlands is located near Interior, SD. So the actual town itself is probably less than 50 acres, includes a tiny half-grocery store, a small church, and two bars... but they also are next door to the Badlands, which I guess makes up for the lack of - everything else.
It didn't take us long to jump out of the car and start hiking! We hiked around the Saddle Pass Trail, which is steep and rugged. We - including our awesome pups - climbed around and witnessed incredible views. From the tops of the craters, we saw where the grasslands met the cliffs. I was surprised to see cacti. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. We had heard the Badlands compared to the surface of the moon - it totally looks like the landscape of the moon with its deep, pointy craters, one after another.
The dogs did better than we imagined... they climbed around, jumped, explored, searched - within the restraints of their leashes of course. ;) We were impressed at how well they handled the steep and uncertain terrain, especially considering Kaia is scared of everything. So glad they are with us!
After our hike, we drove through the rest of the park, stopping at amazing overlooks from time to time and keeping an eye out for wildlife. Cliffs and craters and grasslands as far as the eye could see!
One of my favorite things about the Badlands was the wildlife. Just on the drive, we've seen bighorn sheep (in the middle of the road), prairie dogs (Luna went crazy), a coyote from afar, and bison. Just before we arrived at our campsite, we passed an entire herd of bison along the road! Never seen anything like this before.
We arrived at Sage Campground in the late afternoon and immediately began to set up camp. I enjoyed learning how to help Sam set up the tent. We grilled hotdogs for dinner on the campstove (thanks Gary and Jodi). Since it was quickly becoming chillier, we enjoyed a cup o' hot chocolate. As we were cleaning up and sanitizing the campsite, a lone bison walked through camp. He kept to himself and continued on his little ol way. It wasn't much longer when we heard the cry of coyotes.
As I'm laying here in our tent, I can still hear the faint cry of coyotes, and we think they are killing a bison or something because we also hear moaning. Creeeeepy. There is also a horrible smell that I can only assume is bison poop or Kaia's breath (all 4 of us in a tent). What a crazy feeling to be out in the wildnerness; so vulnerable to mother nature. I'm loving this adventure with my husband and our puppies, and tomorrow we continue our long journey to Alaska.