Monthly Archives: October 2016

Les Mauvais Terres Pour Traverse (the Badlands)

Our next stop was Badlands National Park.


In the early 1900’s, French Canadian hunters called the area “les mauvais terres pour traverse” or “bad lands to travel through.”  It was named as such because the land was subject to extreme temperatures and lack of water and the terrain was exposed and rugged.

Of all of the places to which we traveled this summer, the Badlands was my absolute favorite by far.



Friends, it is a must-see in my book and truly bucket-list worthy.  I snapped a lot of pictures at this stop, so apologies in advance if it gets boring!

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We hiked all around the Badlands.  There was lots to see.  Luckily, it wasn’t crowded and despite the arid conditions, the temperature was comfortable and on occasion even chilly.  I was thankful that we hit the park at such a good time because I have heard that the weather can be oppressively hot and downright miserable.  Hence the name.

We saw plenty of the rocky terrain.



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The scenery was breath-taking.


dsc_0171In contrast to the rocky desert lands, there was also expanses of gorgeous prairie-lands with herds of big horn sheep and buffalo.


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This picture I call “Four White Sheep Boo-tays.”

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dsc_0234 dsc_0236I suppose if I had to travel through the area on foot, with no access to water and no relief from the elements, I would think of these lands as “bad.”  But from my perspective, it was nothing short of spectacular.


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On Our Own

The Sheffields peeled off and flew back home.  We down-sized to a smaller mini-van and continued on eastward to Custer, South Dakota where we managed to get several more stamps in our National Parks Passport.

First, we hit Mount Rushmore.



and got some great shots of the monument in the daytime and at night.



We also spent some time in Custer State Park, which I thought was a lot more fun and more interesting than Mount Rushmore.  There was wildlife-o-plenty.

Herds of buffalo…


…and they just mosied around like we weren’t even there.


At one point we were stopped on the road watching a large bull grazing.


He put his head down and crossed directly in front of our car.  Aaron thought he was about to ram us and he dived onto the floor boards screaming, “I don’t think any of this is a good idea!!”  The bull innocently walked to the other side of the road and kept on munching the grass.

There were mama buffalos with their calves.


This one reminds me of Ferdinand the Bull.

dsc_0120As we drove around, I kept thinking about that scene out of “Dances with Wolves” where the Native Americans and Kevin Costner’s character are learning how to say “buffalo” in each others language.

“Tatanka…” “Buff-a-lo…” as Kevin Costner puts his 2 fingers up to his head for horns and paws at the ground with his foot.  “Tatanka…” Buff-a-lo.”

We saw prarie dogs.

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…Feral donkeys

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and these pronghorn antelope.

dsc_0107With the departure of the Sheffields came a downward slide of the quality of our accommodations.  We significantly downgraded to a cabin at an RV park.  The cabin was really just a box with a roof and a bed, no kitchen (although there was a small refrigerator) and no bathroom, just a shower house down the road.  Coincidentally, the owner of the park was from Jacksonville, Florida.  What a small world it is!

Because it would afford us another stamp in the ole National Parks Passport, we took a 50 mile detour to visit the Devil’s Tower National Monument.  Some of you might recognize this rock formation as the one featured in the 1970’s Steven Spielberg movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”




You can’t get to the top of the formation without doing actual rock climbing with ropes and all the gear, so we settled for a hike around it.  It was a worthwhile detour.




Rocky Mountain High

Our last stop with the Sheffields was Rock Mountain National Park.

dsc_0007We went for a 4-hour horseback ride.  I guess it wasn’t interesting enough for Aaron because he actually fell asleep in the saddle as he was riding.  He was several horses ahead of me and all I could see was him swaying to the steps of the horse, head drooping backwards while his body precariously leaned from side to side.  At first I thought he was just goofing around and then I realized he was snoozing.  I was surprised he didn’t fall off the horse altogether.

dsc_0002dsc_0001My horse’s name was Peaches…. and she was anything but.

dsc_0003I am a horseback riding novice and, although I’m a good sport about it, I’m not necessarily an enthusiast.  It’s something fun to do as a group, so I’m usually cautiously game.  The few times I have done it, I’ve enjoyed myself.  I have had one or two bad experiences, however, so it’s not something that I seek to do at every opportunity.

My horse Peaches was obviously well aware of my lack of horse sense and enthusiasm.  As Shane put it, “she owned me.”  She took the opportunity to be as stubborn and contrary as possible.  On a number of occasions she donkey kicked other horses that got too close to her.  I was holding on for dear life and she went where ever and whenever she very well pleased.  A renegade she was.  I was a little annoyed that our guides smugly remarked that she’s usually a really sweet horse.  Needless to say, I was glad to get off of her at the end of our ride and I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual.

We spent some time hiking and enjoying the scenery.

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As we drove higher, we hit quite a bit of snow.  We also spotted some wildlife,

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We passed this herd of reindeer (I think that’s what they were) as we were driving down the mountain. By the excitement in the van, you would have thought we had just spotted Big Foot himself.   The door to Shelly was literally wide open as we crept slowly by them.  Jen and I were hanging out of the side furiously snapping away on our cameras as if we were National Geographic photographers.


This one is thinking, “what the heck….crazy humans…”


We actually pulled over for these shots.  I love the antlers on these guys and the field of wildflowers they are lying on.

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And thus ended our trek through Colorado with the Sheffields.

dsc_0031It was a trip not without its mild irritations, small disappointments and disagreements, but it was full of belly laughs, good times and fantastic experiences.  The good news is that we all made it through with friendships solidly intact and we came away with life-long memories!  We loved it so much, we’re already planning a trip for next summer.  Utah here we come!!