Dear Holiday Inn in Spearfish – I am very sorry that I left about a half-inch of mud in the bottom of the bathtub last night … here’s the story: My family and I left Mitchell, S.D., at about 9 a.m. on Wednesday and after a couple of various adventures (more about the 5-cent coffee, 45 cent cup later …) we found ourselves in the Badlands and it had FINALLY stopped raining. But it wasn’t 100 degrees like it always has been, so my nephews, my father and I felt bold and decided to explore some of the trails. That’s where we met Joe the Park Ranger who informed me that although there are marked trails, all 240,000-plus acres of federal land are up for exploration – just watch out for rattlesnakes.
I don’t think that Joe thought that I would take him literally.
“I bet the view farther out would be better,” my father commented to me once we had climbed this anvil shaped rock. (This whole time, my three nephews were literally RUNNING across the rock formations. Crazy.) We were looking at a space that was probably about a quarter mile away, the landscape then fell off and he was right – I was pretty sure that the view farther out would be better.
I pointed down a slight incline. “We can get down right there,” I said. And we were off, down the slippery slope and into a flat canyon where my nephews sprinted across while my father and I marveled at their agility and meandered our way out to where bandits used to hide and more history had been forgotten than I would ever learn. I can’t give you too many specifics – the view wasn’t as awesome as I thought it would be once we got there, but it was a lot of fun to go off the beaten path.
The mud all over my legs, my shorts, my favorite shoes, etc., happened when I tried to climb back up from where we came and was thwarted by the really, really damp clay like soil. Finally, my papa gave me a helping hand while my nephews laughed like hyenas.
To paraphrase that really lame credit card commercial – Cost of entry into The Badlands – $15. The memories that my nephews, my father and I will have forever? Priceless.
So I’m very sorry Holiday Inn in Spearfish – if I ever go hiking in the Badlands again, I’ll remember to wear pants next time. But this was a piece of frugal fun that money can’t buy …
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