As I mentioned in my last post about South Dakota, the drive was full of flat but slightly rolling plains, lots of cows, and even more billboards, until we saw the Badlands opening up on the left.
We took the separate route through the Badlands National Park, Route 240, and paid $15 to take the drive. It was the best $15 we've ever spent, it was absolutely amazing. It's hard to put into words the way it looks, so I took a million pictures and posted a couple so you can get a sense of it.
We easily could have taken an entire day driving through the park and stopping at every scenic overlook, but it was starting to get dark, and it was 8pm Mountain Time so we were getting hungry for dinner. The best part of the drive however was near the end when we were startled by several large mountain goats (I'm guessing that's what they were, if you are a zoologist please feel free to examine the image and offer your opinion) grazing on the side of the road. We stopped to take pictures and one moved in front of the car and started staring us down, looking like he was about to charge the Subaru!
He moved eventually though and we were able to continue on and out of the park. We went to Wall Drug but since their cafe was closed we crossed the street to the Cactus Cafe where R enjoyed a delicious Buffalo Barbecue sandwich and I had chicken fingers. We got back on the road and wanted to make it to Rapid City for the night. We had delusions of camping however a huge storm soon opened up and the car might as well have been swimming. The lightening was different from any I'd seen before, rather than seeing the clear strikes it lit up the sky in patches of lavender and was practically unceasing for over an hour.
When we finally made it to the campgrounds at 9pm (very much feeling that it was 11pm eastern time) we realized it would be $29 plus tax for just an empty spot to park the car which we were then going to sleep in the back of. R raised the point that we should just spend $20 more to get a hotel where we would have a real bed and a bathroom and save the camping for someplace cheaper (and dryer). That's how we ended up at the super posh Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City. Apparently we can live like kings in South Dakota because this room is amazing but it's as cheap as any others we stayed at. Looks like I'm moving to South Dakota, but only if I can have a Jackalope for a pet!