South Dakota continues to be a little difficult. Had to break the under $100 a night rule again for a hotel room, since it was hard just finding one (admittedly, it’s a weekend night during the summer). And then I had the most annoying fellow tourists when I went to the Badlands National Park: one actually honked me for stopping briefly to take a photo (as others in the park were doing; also, we were the only two cars on the road within view and they could’ve just passed me), while the other, still parked on the side of the road, made “pay attention to your driving” gestures at me as I pulled out from behind them after taking my photo (which, again, was a matter of seconds). For the record, I didn’t hit their car, come anywhere near to doing so, and didn’t put anyone behind me at risk (because there was no one). Very annoying considering there weren’t too many people going around, and comparing it to Yellowstone, which might have been constantly jammed but where everyone was really quite surprisingly tolerant of each other’s sightseeing when driving. Seriously, road rage in a national park? Maybe you should take a deep breath and look at the park instead?
Anyway. South Dakota badlands are both less and more extreme than Montana badlands. The hills aren’t as high, and the rocks aren’t so brilliantly colored. But the canyons are much deeper, and they’re kind of inversions in that sense; in Montana, the rocks twist up from the plains, while in South Dakota, the canyons take deep, tearing dives into the thin green carpet of grass. And the grass is a lot greener and more lush, so the contrast against the washed out pastel of the rocks is more startling. Maybe that’s why it was here that I finally saw some bighorn sheep, one of which had a very impressive pair of horns. The prairie dogs were cute, too, if not as fearless as the their North Dakota cousins; they have a funny way of hopping as they chirp-bark, starting out on all fours and then flipping their top half up and coming down on all fours again.
On the way out, I had lunch at Cedar Pass Lodge just within park borders. Buffalo chili didn’t taste much different than regular beef. The fry bread with wojabi (a Sioux-style berry sauce) was good, albeit misplaced in the appetizer instead of the dessert section. The chocolate chip kuchen was really very delicious, being of the pie with custard filling variety, not cloyingly sweet and fun with the chips.
At the rec of a colleague, I also stopped at Wall Drug, in Wall, SD. It started out as a drugstore and now it’s basically one giant, sprawling, Old West gimmick emporium, which is a bit odd considering it began in the Great Depression. Overall, it’s a bit terrifying, although the bookstore inside is a hidden gem; I have never seen such variety of Western books (fiction and nonfiction) before.
Overnighting just outside of Sioux Falls. Again, no Airbnb fitting my needs, so as mentioned above, had to scrounge for a hotel.
Animals not photographed: More pronghorn.