Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day 9: Badlands, SD to Mt. Rushmore, SD to Devil's Tower, WY

The weather gods seem to be with us on this trip. It rained during the night, but early enough that our rain fly was mostly dry when we were breaking camp. The weather held while the kids and I did a little hiking and Ron rode his bike on the dirt roads of the Badlands Park. The weather was hot enough that ice cream at Wall Drug was the perfect remedy. As we were driving the Mt. Rushmore, though, the skies opened up. The rain was so intense, I didn't even notice the rock tunnel I drove us through. We found a local burger joint and ate excellent food while the storm blew through. The rain slowed to a spit when we finished and we were able to have clear views of Mt. Rushmore. The sun was even shining as we hiked around the monument. The sculpture was impressive (the heads are scaled for 150 foot people), although it wasn't as big as I was expecting. Ron particularly enjoyed the museum displays, but the kids reached their limit faster than he could read, so we moved on.

Our next stop was Devil's Tower and I was again concerned about weather on our drive. The rain cleared up as we approached the park and we were treated to clear skies and a glorious sunset in view of the tower. We camped in full view of the Tower and did an evening hike partway up to the Tower base. It was a little longer than anticipated and Elli got a little scared high up on the hill in the dusky light. She slowed to a virtual crawl and Ron had to carry her down on his shoulders so we weren't stuck up there in total darkness. The angles of the leaf-less tree limbs did look a bit ominous, so I couldn't blame her.

We were treated to an engaging program by one of the park rangers before bed and all four of us slept soundly all night. In fact, it was the best night's sleep I've had on the trip so far!

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