Saturday, October 4, 2014

Good Times in the Badlands

Our trip from Custer did not go without a hitch.  We had only driven three miles when the PressurePro tire monitoring system screamed for attention.  Remembering the last time we heard that sound, we stopped immediately and determined that the culprit was the right rear tire on Tracker.  Fortunately, we were in Custer where help is readily available.  John used our rechargeable air compressor to air up the tire, and quickly drove to the nearest tire-fixit-facility.  While I walked the dogs in the city park, he learned that the problem was a damaged valve stem and had it replaced.  Then we were on our way for the second time, traveling more slowly than usual because of the rain.

Pulling into Rapid City for our obligatory WalMart stop, John remarked that the truck brakes “didn’t feel right.”  Sure enough, when we stopped and he checked the brakes with the hand-held laser temperature monitor, the front brakes on the truck where hotter than they should be.  It seems that the trailer brakes, which normally help to slow or stop the rig, were not functioning as they should be.  That is not an insurmountable problem, because the truck can stop the rig on its own.  It just takes longer when the trailer brakes aren’t helping.  

We made our WalMart shopping run, put in a quick call to our truck mechanic and a fellow Escapee friend about the problem, and were again on our way.

The rest of our trip to the Badlands of South Dakota was without incident.  The rain stopped as we left Rapid City, but when we pulled into the Badlands National Park, the skies were still threatening.

We spent a comfortable evening in the Badlands RV Park, and early Thursday morning Rue and I set out to take a few photos before we moved on.

As the sun peeked over the canyon rim, I took this shot of the bottom of the canyon.  Then Rue and I moved on to photograph the other-worldly landscape.

The Lakota called the place mako sika.  Early French trappers referred to it as les mauvaises terres a traverser.  Both mean “bad lands.”  It may have been a bad place for early travelers, but to us, it is magical.  Here are some images I captured early on Thursday morning before we left the park.  Because of recent rains in the area, the formations were moist, making the colors more vivid than they have been on our previous visits.

Each time we have been here, the views have been different.  This may have been the best so far.

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