Lewis and Clark to Badlands

All the men here look like the Marlboro man.  Maybe not all.

We are trekking through South Dakota, and the landscape is alien. It is both green and desolate. Long stretches of rippling grass, flat for miles, where the road seems like it goes straight on forever, and when I can't see any further, the road glimmers and ends in sky. The sky is huge and clear, brighter blue where it is raining miles ahead. No hint of grey; a conciliatory ocean for the landlocked. 

When we passed over the Missouri River, over Lake Francis Clay, suddenly the landscape burst and rocky bottomed, roly green hills popped up all around us. Even the little ones were impressed. Lilly took better pictures than I managed to take.  The water was Caribbean blue and very surprising. 

 Lake Francis Clay 

Lake Francis Clay 

Three days in, we have some new car rules. 

1. No one may eat something that everyone else is not also eating.   Exceptions only for medicine. 

2. Yes you do have to go potty.   Unbuckle. You are going. 

3. No one may ask "how much longer?" We are not annoyed by this question. We are annoyed by the second time you ask it and say "but you SAID an hour two hours ago!" 

4. Silent time is strictly enforced, or, we wish it were. The only way we have found to enforce this is by passing out lollipops. Doesn't last long. Right now, we are out of lollipops and on a merged two lane road, under construction, in heavy rain and wind, with five loud kids and one 31' trailer. Be quiet, now. Also there's hail. Stephen swears the wind is blowing at 40 miles an hour. 

5. Don't touch Jane.  

6. Do not crunch up styrofoam cups. Why would you do this????  Henry, why would you do this??

We are getting near to Badlands and beginning to see all kinds of taxidermy, tacky Wild West types of billboards.  "See an 11 ft. elephant!"  "Shootin' Range!". "No mean, all keen, no growl, no howl PRARIE DOGS!" Maybe we'll line up for one of those sepia-toned western pics.  I hear we ought to be prepared for kitch beyond our wildest imaginings. We chose fairly rustic campsites in hopes of a counterbalance.  Tonight, a park inside Badlands with no amenities and roadside spaces but amazing views, and tomorrow, Custer State Park where we hear Bison will roam freely through the campground. 

 somewhere along I-90W in South Dakota  

somewhere along I-90W in South Dakota  

 pulling into Badlands

pulling into Badlands