Entering the Badlands!
Not too much of this in Illinois, I must say. The scenery is great, but the lack of tire-swallowing potholes is a bit unnerving.
The start of the day saw the Mighty Furd being refueled at a Sinclair station, seeing as how it seems to like Sinclair diesel fuel best. In airing up the tires behind the station, their system got both fronts to 75 PSI, but the couldn’t top 70 after that. I could hear the inside air pump re-pressurizing the tank, but it didn’t make much difference. The station next door didn’t have any air supply, so I popped the Ford’s hood and hooked up my Viair pump to finish the job. The new ARB digital pressure gauge thingie worked better than I’d hoped for, but I’ll save that tedium for another time.
Did I mention lots of bikers?
After quite a few miles through Buffalo Gap National Grassland, I hit the eastern-most entrance to Badlands National Park. My America the Beautiful Senior Pass netted me entry and a very helpful brochure with map. This being a Wednesday, there were lots of visitors, the majority being refugees from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally still ongoing. Most of the drive through the park is on the paved Badlands Loop Road, which has oodles of viewpoints distributed along its length. Toward the western end, you can either cut north toward Wall, South Dakota or keep going on Sage Creek Rim Road, which is not paved. It’s in pretty good shape however, with mild to moderate washboard that probably wouldn’t be noticed in a car. Except for captions, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. A follow-up post with more hard-core Badlands tourist pictures will follow.
The speed limit is mostly 35 MPH, and nobody I saw went any faster. Counterproductive to the purpose for being there.
Many of the more breathtaking sections came and went, because there’s not always a place to pull over.
This makes my passage look easy. It wasn’t. First, they trotted away while staying on the road. That delayed my pass. Then they actually wound up crowding around and crossing back and forth in front. Another car crawling in the other direction let me pass, and then appeared stumped as to how to wade through without a mishap. Can’t blame ’em. Youngsters were taking their time in front of my bike rack. Unlike geese, these don’t seem to mind the diesel clatter.
Quite a few acres were taken up by prairie dogs (center and upper right), and the Park is proud that ferrets have been successfully reintroduced as their natural predator. You don’t want to get too close, as the fleas from them carry diseases that you do not want to contract.
Opah! Buffalo! Again, this shot was taken while things were clear. The van ahead had to stop awhile and gingerly ease through a considerable number of these beasts crossing the road. Good idea not to appear as an annoyance with these. Fortunately for me, the bulk of them had not yet made it to a turnoff in the road that led to my camp. But I still had to crawl haltingly through, since I didn’t want to have to explain what happened to my insurance agent back in Illinois.
They like the grass right beside the road, which is a bit greener than elsewhere.
Just a small piece of the herd.
Camp! The Sage Creek Campground is a large oval with a curbed inner rim. The center area is intended for tenters. The tilt-down beside the curb makes it unsuitable for RVs, so we imposed on an adjoining lot that is mainly for horse ridin’ folks. The story is that buffalo occasionally wander through camp, which, as a tenter, I would not care for unannounced.
The view out my windows on the other side. The path coming down looks like a buffalo trail, due to its width and roughness. Cool!
I’m amazed that I have a workable Verizon signal here, since the iPhone is showing just one bar of five. Usually, that means dropped calls and no Internet at all. I’ll adjust somehow!