Sunday, July 19, 2015

June 19, 2015 - Devil's Tower, WY to Badlands National Park, SD

Edith wanted to be up so early to get pictures of the sunrise, but because she went to bed after 1:30 am she slept til past 7:30 am. 

The weather looked beautiful this morning and the breeze was gentle. It was in low 70's.

Nice view of Devils Tower from our campsite
Even when we are inside Lil' Home (LH)
we can still see the Tower. Awesome!!!

We checked out of Devil's Tower KOA at 9:30 am, parked the LH at Devils Tower Trading Post parking lot across the street from KOA.

We went in the park and the first thing we did was to check out the campground. We were impressed with the layout and the view, very nice. We will want to stay 3 or more days there next time we visit Devils Tower again.
Park entrance to Devils Tower
Prairie Dog at Prairie Dog Town - there were thousands of them

Next stop was to see the sculpture called "The Circle of Sacred Smoke". It was created by Japanese artist Junkyo Muto in 2008. The stone used in the sculpture and black granite base come from Italy's Fantiscritti Quarry the source of Michelangelo's marble. Over 20 Indian tribes consider the Tower to be a sacred place.

The Circle of Sacred Smoke

It was not easy finding a parking space at the visitor's center, but with Erwin's persistence it paid off. He found a shady spot and parked the Jeep there.  We went inside the visitor's center to get information on hiking around the Tower.  It has a small museum that explains the history. 

The Tower is a unique and striking geologic formation that attracts thousands of tourists and captured their imaginations since prehistoric times.  President Teddy Roosevelt designated it America's first national monument in 1906. 

We visited the Tower in September 2013, but Edith was not feeling well at that time, so we did not hike.  Today Edith is feeling GREAT and is ready to go hiking. She was anxious to take pictures and to enjoy the view as well.

Map of the walking trails
We chose to hike around the tower base.

During the month of June every year climbing the Tower is
closed because of Indians' sacredness month during Solstice
Prayer cloths

History tidbit: In 1941 a guy named George Hopkins parachuted to the summit to "prove that I can hit the impossible."  However, he was stranded on top for 6 days before being rescued by a party of rock climbers.

It took us nearly two hours to complete the Tower base loop and we really enjoyed every minute of it. Normally it would take about 45 minutes but with all the pictures Edith took, it took us 2 hours to go round the tower! The weather was great. 

Getting ready to leave

We were on WY-24 after leaving Devils Tower, then took 14 East to go to Sundance, WY, (which is where the Sundance Kid picked up his name) entered South Dakota state line at 1:42 pm.  At the first rest area in Spearfish, SD we picked up brochure and map for Badlands, SD.  We had a very late lunch while there.

Concrete tepee at Spearfish rest area
Erwin getting ready to get on the road
Spearfish rest area

We continued driving on I-90 until we arrived Wall, SD, took exit 110 to 240 (Badlands Loop) that leads to Badlands National Park.  

It was very hot when we arrived Badlands. It was 96˚.  First stop was at Pinnacles Overlook and there were a few mountain sheep. 

See the sheep?

We know it is not part of the Badlands scenery, but it was interesting

We started to feel tired and wanted to check out Cedar Pass Campground and hoped there is an availability. It was around 6:30 pm when we went in.  "Yes, there are few available, but you need to drive around and pick a site, then you come back here and pay", the attendant said.

Cedar Pass Campground

We drove around one time and decided on site #45. When we set up the LH we did not know that the site was already occupied.  There was no stub on the post.  The guy with the motorcycle had his tent set up way in the back.  The campground host came and told us to move a car length, so we and the motorcyclist shared the same site, since he slept in a tent. It worked out fine.  it cost only $10.55 for one night. 

A camper two sites down from us was complaining about us running a generator. Edith explained to him that we were allowed to use it until 8 pm.  

We had pork steak, pasta and buttered cauliflower for supper.  Afterwards Edith went out to shoot some pictures.

While Edith was away Erwin shared a cup of coffee with the motorcyclist and they sat down and chatted.  Around 9 pm the lightning started and continued for more than 3 hours.  Around 11 pm we noticed a unusual formation in the clouds. 

It turned out it was a BIG supercell.  It moved slowly to the east.  Few lightning flashes were right above us. Edith took lots of pictures and she was able to capture a couple with lightning strikes.  When the supercell started to move to the east Edith captured the most striking picture that details the shape and color of the supercell.

SUPERCELL! Look at how big it was!

Then the wind started to blow strongly so we went inside, it started to rain hard. The strong winds were blowing hard shaking the LH.  Edith suggested that we put the levelers up because the front tires were a few inches off the road.  We were afraid the wind could knock us down, it shook violently for a good while. Edith was really scared..., Erwin went to bed and slept like a baby.  While she was up Keri gave her weather reports on tornado and weather status near Wall, SD.  Because of the winds a few tents were blown down/over.  The guy, who complained about the generator, was one of them, he and his wife were in their tent when the winds blew it over several times and knocked them into their car. Luckily the winds weren't blowing the other way or they would have been blown into a 10 ft drop and into the river! The Park Warden came to tell them to go to the lodge for shelter.  He told us also, but we said we would be ok.  The family across from us had their tent displaced, also.  The motorcyclist tent was fine because he had it staked to the ground very good, unlike the other guy who just put his pop up tent on the ground without staking in down!

Finally the winds died down, but the lightning was still going on, further to the east

It was around 11:45 when Edith started to feel tired and went to bed. Erwin was still sleeping soundly, but she was still feeling nervous.  Then around 1:45 am Erwin woke Edith up and told her to go outside and take pics of the Milky Way. She replied that she was too tired and rolled over and went back to sleep! Erwin thought about it a little bit and woke her up again explaining that it would be her last good chance for a Milky Way picture because the next days going East there won't be any dark places to take pictures because there will be too many city lights!  Edith got dressed, went out.  The stars were everywhere and she could see the Milky Way clearly.  Click, click, click until she was satisfied.  Once back in the LH she went back to sleep cuddling next to Erwin cause she was cold and he was warm as a toast!

Milky Way at Badlands

Miles driven:
LH - 189
Jeep - 18

Today's route:
A: Devils Tower, WY
B: Sundance, WY
C: Spearfish, SD
D: Wall, SD
E: Cedar Pass Campground at Badlands National Park, SD

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