Sunday, December 20, 2015

Exploring in the Badlands

It happens too frequently that I'm able to get out and explore this beautiful state for work and I feel sad that my littles aren't able to be there exploring with me. I had been to Badlands National Park a few times with the kiddos over the summer months for work and knew they needed to get out there to explore for themselves. Cody hadn't been there since high school or earlier and was also eager to check out the area again.

One Saturday morning we all piled into the car with freezing cold water in my new favorite Stanley thermos, snacks, tennies for adventuring, and cheery faces. Badlands isn't too far away, so it was only about a 2 hour drive and we were there.

Our first stop? Duh, the giant prairie dog was calling our name. Little did the kiddos know, there was prairie dogs the sizes of cats running around the property. The little shop on site sells peanuts and those prairie dogs are about as tame as cats and will practically come grab the peanut from your hand. So, naturally we had to FaceTime Poppa about the prairie dogs and tell him who needs to go prairie dog hunting when all you need is a bag of peanuts and they'll come right to ya!

Our first adventure was an easy one. We took the marked path just a little ways into the Badlands to show the kids what this place was all about. I loved seeing their faces discovering this land that looks so foreign yet so tangible and ready to be explored.

Soon after, we knew we wanted to get a little "off the beaten path." I had the perfect trail in mind. The kids were up for anything. Cody was too, but he was a bit more cautious wearing his Dad hat. I should have been too, but I was so excited to show them everything and take them to my favorite places. I may have slightly forgotten that my "guests" with me this time was my own precious family, not travel journalists who can fend for themselves and are often outdoor adventure writers.

Yup, we went up that. Grace was a maniac of course and hit the trail and ladder hard. Annie monkeyed onto me and I hauled her up this steep, precarious thing. But we made it!! We were immediately fearful of how we were all going to get down.

The view from above is amazing. AMAZING. As you can see, there isn't much for shade in the Badlands. And, for your dose of South Dakota Tourism tour guide in me, Badlands National Park was named after the Lakota name "mako sica" or "land bad." Can you imagine being out here with very little amenities to help you get to and fro? How about hunting out here, or braving the hot summer days or brutally cold winter nights? Anyway, we caught some shade in a small indent in the land and replenished with water. 

(chewy the rabbit also went on the adventure with us!)

And another water break. Basically a Stanley ad right?!

All in all, they had a great time out there. I was so happy to show them quite possibly my favorite place in the entire state. Annie was so happy to be able to "climb it" (even if it was just a small pile of dirt) and get out and get dirty. Grace was unstoppable and fearless. I love that about her. 

No trip that direction is complete without a stop at the famous Wall Drug. Annie's new favorite thing to do there is go and talk to all of the questionable looking fiberglass characters in the entire building, and trust me, there are a lot. 

I'm so happy this family of mine is up for any crazy adventure I might take them on!

(PS - I'm going to try really hard to catch up on some of my favorite moments I've missed blogging about over the course of the last year or two so that I can catalog moments here. I'll leave them up in all sorts of un order for a few weeks so peeps can see the pics and catalog them back into their proper month and year later!)

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