Thursday, July 23, 2015

June 20, 2015 - Badlands National Park, SD to Atkinson, NE

Sun was already out when Erwin got up at 4:30 am, realized it was too early and went back to bed.

There were not many tents at the campsite because of the severe storm last night. The motorcylcist was already gone and left a note on the door of our Lil' Home. He asked if we could share some of the storm pictures with him.  He left his email address and Edith will get to that when we get back to Jacksonville, FL.

It was a sunny and beautiful day.  The sky was blue/grey with no clouds in sight. We left the campground, started exploring what is left of the Badlands Loop. There was a road construction along the loop.  Due to severe rains in the past some of the roads were washed out.

It is a rare sight to see the Badlands so GREEN! Normally it is brown!
That is because of all the rain this area has gotten in the last month.

We took a hike at Door Window area and it was already getting hot.  It is so easy to get lost in that place.  There were markers to follow if visitors want to wander away from the path.

We left Badlands National Park at 10:15 am. We were still on 240 to get on I-90.  Along the road there is a big Praire Dog statue (roadside attraction) just outside of Badlands.  Edith walked up to the prairie town and there was one momma prairie dog that posed politely for Edith while she crouched to take close-up shots of it.

We are now finally back on I-90 going east to Murdo, SD. Road construction began at Exit 178 and ended at Exit 192 where we wanted to get on 83 South to Valentine, NE. That was a very long construction! Driving in a single file and it was moving very very slowly.

On I-90 there were four overturned semi trucks from Mother Nature's fury last night. We were just very glad we spent the night at a campground last night instead of keep on driving or we could've ended up like the semis! Many road signs were twisted, billboards were knocked down. Silo tops bent, debris on farmlands. Wow!  We cannot underestimate the strength of the tornado and the winds.

Entered NE state line at 1:55 pm. Road conditions were much better than SD.

We had a lunch break in Valentine, NE. We took a walk around the town a bit, went in antique store, asked three ladies where we can visit Smith Falls. One of them knew sign language and her parents are deaf.  The other lady who gave us instructions to the falls  was her aunt.  

We left Valentine to go see Smith Falls, drove on NE-12 Outlaw Trail (Nebraska Byway) through Fort Niabeoi Wildlife Refuge.

To see Smiths Falls  there is a $5 entrance fee.  It is a half mile hike to get a close-up view of the falls.  It is a Nebraska landmark and is the highest waterfall (63') in the state.  It is located 18 miles east of Valentine, the falls is part of Smith Falls State Park and is adjacent to the Niobrara National Scenic River.

There was an old phillip 66 gas station and pumps in Basset, NE.

From NE 7 we took US 20. We were starting to get tired and Erwin asked Edith if she wanted to take over driving, but she felt she was not ready because of the backroads. Instead of continuing to our destination in O'Neill, NE to spend the night we decided to stop in Atkinson, NE.  

There was no campground in that town, so we boondocked on Main Street in front of Heating/AC store, then walked to Braun's Food Center to pick up stuff for supper.

After supper Edith started to get so sleepy she decided to go lay down on the bed for a power nap, but ended up sleeping all night long.  While Edith was sleeping Erwin went out for a walk.

Miles driven:
LH - 260
Jeep - 0

Today's route:
A: Cedar Pass Campground, Badlands National Park, SD
B: Murdo, SD
C: Valentine, NE
D: Smith Falls, NE
E: Atkinson, NE

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