Published: May 24th 2023
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What a wonderful day. Started with a really good breakfast this morning. The food was really good and lots of choices.Then off we went to Badlands National Park, an hour and a half drive from here. We took a Mile and a half hike when we got there. I was kind of worried, been a long time since I walked that far in the heat. Beautiful breeze, but still pretty hot. The Badlands is a an open national park, meaning you can hike anywhere, but we stayed on the path. Also there is a pretty great amount of erosion annually, though most of us would think 1 inch a year was not much. But in the great scheme of things, when a place has been dated to be hundreds of millions of years old. An inch a year is pretty much, there is not a lot of heavy rain to erode things. A lot of fossils are found around the area and paleontologists depend on visitors to report new findings. Unfortunately, we did not find any. But at the visitor center got to see some bones of what looked like a hippo with two horns on the snout, a saber tooth cat and a couple of other animals. We were told that a long time ago, and I mean long, the badlands were part of an inland sea that stretched from Canada through the Dakotas and eastward to the Carolinas. They know this because although they did not find dinosaurs here, they did find alligator fossils. They also found a mastodon skeleton. After we met up with our guide, we headed out to visit other views. The spires in the park reminded me a lot about the hoodoos in Bryce. We saw a couple of female mountain sheep and a place where the mounds became yellow in color. Scientists believe that after the inland sea receded, rotting and dying trees leaked tannins into the soil and changed the color.

Then off we went to the small town of Wall, SD. Wall is noted for its giant “Drug Store”. It is more like a slightly odd Walmarts filled with SD souvenirs, stuffed bison and grizzlies, fake giant jackalopes with a saddle, a fast food hamburger restaurant that has seating for over 500 people, Native American art and just about everything you can think of, plus a very tiny drug store. Place was going out of business back when it was announced that Mount Rushmore was beginning to be carved. In order to get tourists to come to Wall, they erected billboards along the routes heading to Rushmore offering free ice water to the visitors. As evidenced by the present state of the establishment, it worked very well. Wall Drug is well know in many states.

On to Rapid City and the Prairie’s Edge and a presentation on the uses of the buffalo hide by the Indians. An amazing talk by a lovely lady who had been working there for over 40 years. Never knew that everything was used on the buffalo, including using the brain (full of fat) to tan the hides, the sinew as thread to sew on beads, tie on arrow heads and flight feathers, decorate cradle boards, etc. The horns of each buffalo/bison were individual and the covering of each horn was made of hair, like that of a rhino horn. When the buffalo died, the covering slipped off and was cared into spoons, cups and other things. Porcupine quills are hollow and were flatted to use as needles with sinew thread and also for weaving onto things after being dyed. The sharp point was not cut off, just woven into the next place. Hides were used for recording history through pictographs or paintings. I had already learned that it was illegal for all but Native Americans to possess, and even Native Americans can not kill an eagle, and if they find a feather they have to report it to fish and wildlife and it can take over two years for them to get it back. So many things to learn and so little time. I think I will look into this fascinating culture. Makes me feel sad and embarrassed by the the people in our past and how we treated others. Sometimes I am afraid the pendulum is swinging way back that way too quickly. After this, we walked the streets and took pictures of the brass statues of most of the presidents on the street corners. Each is pretty close to the truth with a little added character. If we had not gotten tired, we would have gotten most of them.

But to end tonight on a better note. I am really glad I decided to come on this trip. The 4 of us including the guide, are really having a great time. East meets west and have a lot in common, especially ice cream. Time for sleep.

Goodnight to all.


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