02 April, 2016

B is for Badlands



The best advice I ever got was, “Don’t base your decision on the money.”


I was living in Delaware, agonizing over getting to two milestone events for two godchildren in separate states, two weeks apart. I’d done the math, and technically, getting on a plane to the first location, flying home for the intervening weeks, and flying to the next destination for the second event was financially reasonable. But I wanted a road-trip.



I did the math on the road trip and it was significantly more expensive than flying cross-country twice – first to Kansas City then to Detroit – even including car rental. Gas, lodging, meals, campsites… Could I afford it? Yes, but it would leave my bank account slightly anemic.


“Don’t base your decision on the money.”


I took the road-trip.


I drove, with several stops and visits, to the first event over near Kansas City, spent a couple nights, and headed north. Through Iowa, to South Dakota. Crossing the great prairies. Beautiful.


Some people go to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore. We did that when I was about seven, and during that trip we drove through the Badlands of South Dakota. Drove through, didn’t stop. It captured my imagination. This is the coolest  landform I have ever witnessed in all my travels around the world!


At seven years old, I couldn't stop the family vacation, but this road-trip was ALL MINE! I camped there for two nights.


Arriving in the evening, I set up camp as the sun set. Very windy on the Great Plains. I feel like a master-camper just for getting my tent up and secure in that wind, by myself!


The next day I hiked. And hiked. I packed my backpack with water, granola bars, trail mix, donned my hiking boots and bandana and chose the longest hike I could that didn’t require special equipment. 

Near vertical climbs through crumbly, clay-ey, sedimentary rock formations, followed by a relatively level hike through (presumably) snake-filled prairie, past other rocky formations, and ultimately downward along a winding road. 


SO GLAD I took the road-trip instead of the cheaper short trips! 


I felt exhausted, exhilarated and hungry when I got back to camp. I ate something, relaxed, and took another, shorter hike near the campground before bed.


In the morning, I packed up, and visited some of the other short “hike to see the view” spots that I passed while taking the long way out of the park. 


I would love to go back. I would love to take Brett and show him this favorite place of mine, and see which completely different elements of the Badlands might catch his imagination! …But he hates camping. We’ll have to get an RV if I’m ever going to get him there.


Moral of the story: Don’t base your decision on the money!

15 comments:

  1. Yes that's true. The expensive things don't always imply that they will be good!
    Another example I would like to add: Eating food at a local restaurant. There may be options of high end restaurants at the place you visit, but you will get authentic food at the humblest of hotels.

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    1. I agree with you. One thing I loved about living in Delaware: no chain restaurants were on the avenue leading to the beach. It was all local, privately owned. It's become a badge of pride for me to eat local! Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Mithila, I love the out of the way restaurants. The little mom and pop places are the best places when on a road trip.

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  2. Dear Red,
    I enjoyed your post. Relaxed road trips are/can be great fun, and travel is worth the expense, IMO. (Unlike so many material possessions we waste our money on.) Good on you for undertaking this trip alone.
    @RhondaGilmour from
    Late Blooming Rose

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    1. Thanks Rhonda. I've had many road-trips while I lived on the east coast with family in the midwest!

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  3. We took our family to the badlands and Mt. Rushmore last summer. Like you, we decided that it was time to be less concerned about expense and more about experience. Our kids loved it...and so did we. Thanks. Mike

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    1. Family trips are some of my best memories! Good for you. Keep it up and you'll be hearing stories forever!

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  4. I got to see a bit of the badlands when I was on tour with the band, but would love to see more of it. You might be able to talk me into it.

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  5. Very good advice. So glad you persevered. Good luck with the challenge!

    Pam Margolis
    An Unconventional Librarian

    Co-Host, Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
    http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

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  6. Very cool. I just took a road trip and well the money was a factor but I said the hell with it. Is this going to matter in 5 years, no so I went with the husband. We drove to Richmond/Washington D.C. He had business I had, going to do nothing and seeing the Cherry Blossoms <3 I need the hotel, you lost me with the snakes. I do like to watch survival things on tv though. Safe travels on your trips, blessings <3

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    1. I read that post! You made a wise choice to go. When I lived in Delaware, I visited DC a couple times every year - it was just a 2-hour drive to the Metro. Thanks for visiting!

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  7. We did the visit to Mount Rushmore and drive by to the badlands when I was a teenager. I'm jealous of your trip, it looked pretty cool through the windows as we flew by.

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    1. Yeah, that's why I went back as an adult. I like scrambling over rocks. Apparently! Good to see you back, Jeff!

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