Expansive doesn’t begin to do Wyoming justice; at least the portion along rt. 26. The ratio of cows, horses and antelope to humans has to be in favor of the livestock, not to mention the mileage between towns or what use to be towns exceeds the number of years I’ve been on this planet. Lady Gaga blasting out of the speakers[one of the few stations on the radio, and yes, by choice], windows down and the highway peppered with rotting carcasses we talk about the radness of Badlands, and what we’ve seen in the past 2 days.
Badlands was intense, the landscape there was unreal; not to mention you have free reign, you can walk along the paths provided or forge your own path along the martian landscape. Stu and I decided to rock the latter; as Stu put it, “I didn’t sit in a jeep for 20 hours to not walk where I want to walk”. We climbed up and down huge rock formations, all the while amazed that all this landscape just appeared out of no where.
Something that struck us was the difficulty we had with perspective, something you never really struggle with back east. Everything out west is just bigger. Standing in the middle of Badlands we try and determine how far away some of the peaks were and then, just as we had came to a consensus, some people would appear on the horizon and would have us all confused again. After wandering around for a while we got out tent set up, ate dinner and then climbed around on some of the smaller peaks around our camp site. Talked to a few other campers and called it a early night.
We were not prepared for what rain all night would bring us. The Badlands in general is made up of sedimentary rocks, the ground we set up on was cracked dirt. In the morning, rain had turned what we thought was cracked ground into this clay cement like substance. Just walking around the tent, both our sandals had collected a massive amount of terra on the bottom and easily tripled the weight of our footwear. It also sticks to everything. Everything.
With Badlands in our rearview, we headed to Mt. Rushmore and Devils Tower. Again, perspective. Mt. Rushmore was not this grand monument that we both thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, we were standing right in front of it amazed at the technical precision these guys displayed while building it and we enjoyed learning how they did it; but, it didn’t awe us like Badlands. It was cool. Being through grade school and high school you always see pictures in books and on the web and you image how huge this thing must be. It wasn’t nearly as large as we thought.
Checking Mt. Rushmore off the list, we point the Jeep west toward Devils Tower. Both Devils Tower and Mt Rushmore are worth seeing. I am not sure what else to say. Devils tower was impressive, you can walk around it and climb boulders up the base of it, and the surrounding area was gorgeous.
With the sun long gone, Devils Tower looming in the background and the stars on full display you can’t help but look up and realize how relatively small everything is. As cliche as that sounds, you’ll never see as many shooting stars, or stars for that matter then in big sky country. With the exception of the laptop and camera, we have boiled things down to simplistics. Food, water, shelter and companionship. Everything else for the time being has been put on the back-burner. I can’t speak for Stu, but while taking pictures at night, in the complete silence you begin to realize how insignificant most of the things you worry about really are. Instead you take all that wasted energy and begin to divert it to really enjoying what this world has to offer. Perspective.
Try this on for size………
Up Next: Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier