Day 9 – 9/8 Badlands National Park

My only concern with our setup is here: cold and snow, mainly freezing weather.  We knew temps would drop to near 32, but I was hoping it’d just stay around it and not drop any lower, but… I woke up, opened the windows and there was snow outside, like 8-10 inches.  Wow! 

We went from over 100 degrees a few days ago to below 32 and snow.  My concern is how the trailer, pipes, etc will handle the cold, and the possibility of anything freezing and damaging the plumbing.  I had a little concern about how well it’d be able to keep us warm too, but not much.  We had the furnace going most of the night, and we were quite comfortable.  I eventually lowered the furnace temp to 65 and had only a space heater going.  It kept us warm enough from 1:30am until 6:30am which is when I got up.  Then I got the furnace back on to 68 and the temp in here is very nice.  Furnace is using our LP tanks to heat, so we’ll have empty tanks soon, which is fine, but will have to buy more.  Space heaters do an ok job during the day and are electric, so we use the campground electricity.  It is best to use the furnace so the air circulates better, it warms up more of the piping as well. If it gets too cold outside we will run the furnace more often.  I had a good night of sleep though, it was comfortable, but I was a little (still am) anxious about the temperatures being near freezing, I’m hoping I won’t have any surprises later. 

And, as I sit here typing, it is snowing again.  We had the furnace on all day, but used space heaters when we were in the camper.  Carol did laundry and kids did school work in the morning.  I worked on getting things outside cleared from snow, and double checked all connections, worked on emails and bills, and had a call. 

Girls are doing good with school, getting things done pretty much on their own.  We asked their teachers if they were on track and got back that they are and all looks good.  After everyone was done with school I was putting away the hotspot they are using, and was amazed again that it had used 17GB of data for the day, that’s crazy.  We are at 70% of the plan for the month, in 2 days.  I am more and more convinced it is our phones that when they connect, the pictures and videos start uploading to iCloud and chew up all the data, so I’ll be disabling the phones from connecting there for now as the priority is the kids school.  But, I’ll have to find alternate solutions to get more data, maybe I’ll have to pay off the ATT device to get it unlocked, then get some type of pay as you go plan from someone.  We ate some sandwiches for lunch, and got ready to go.  We had Badlands National Park as our main destination for the day, and we’d do Wall Drug as well, if we had time. 

We left the camper kind of late, it was almost 1pm, and we’re 1hr away from Badlands, but we made it there, bought the annual National Parks pass, and we were in…. Our first National Park visit ever, for all of us!  That right there was exciting!  We drove in from the Pinnacles entrance, which is the one closest to Wall, and turned right on the loop road right away. 

And right away we stopped at a cliff that had an amazing view of the Badlands, this Grand Canyon looking like area that transforms into grasslands.  This was the bottom of the sea some 75million years ago, and you can see layers of eras marked on the sides of the walls of each cliff, peak, etc.  We took a few pictures and kept going. 

The views were amazing.  Soon we stated seeing holes on the ground on our right, and little by little more Prairie Dogs, many of them.  We stopped at the Roberts Prairie Dogs Town area and the girls had a blast. 

They were walking towards the animals with their devices, taking pictures and making videos, and even had some come up to their boots, they loved it.  The area is flat (right side of the road) and very muddy, so muddy the shoes were getting full and caking.  It was tough to clean it so lots of mud got into the truck when we were done at that stop.  The girls were extremely excited they got so close, and that the Prairie Dogs licked their boots, they even said this was the best day ever. hahahaha. 

We went a little further to one more view point of the amazing canyon like scenery, and turned around towards the other side of the loop road.  Now we were going East on the loop road, the canyon was on our right and the grasslands on our left. 

Oh, I forgot to add that as we drove in going West, there were Buffalos right next to the road, so we stopped to take some pictures as well, they were pretty big and were eating the grass not too far from the road.  We saw them again on the way back East.  We crossed the main road we originally came in and continued on loop road, now right away seeing Deer, and RAM which were eating right on the side of the road, next to the cars, you could almost touch them they were so close. 

Going East from there was amazing, we saw lots of animals, Buffalo, Ram, Deer, Prairie Dogs.  We saw amazing views, the clay like ground on the canyon changed to yellow at some point, we went through them, over them, etc.  Amazing views all the way.  I had some trails written down that we needed to check out, so we did a few towards the end, near the visitor center.  First one was super easy, with a wood boards path and stairs. 

Easy, nice views, and we were done in 15 mins.  Bella was busy talking to Calina’s on there iPad.  Bia was enjoying the path, she liked to get off the path and onto the mounts, etc.  We kept going and stopped at another one that had some information about fossils. 

And then we stopped at the Door trail.  I had written down that this was a tough trail, and one spot in particular had some steps made out of rope and wood boards which went almost straight up, so I just wanted to go far enough to get to the stairs as I didn’t think the kids could do it. 

Well, we were off into the trail and it was all rough trail, as in no wood boards or anything, it was in the middle of the canyon like area, right on the gravel.  We were going in between rocks, and peaks and valleys and Bia was really enjoying it.  The views were awesome, and it was super fun to be walking around there.  Then we got to the stars area, and Bia said she wanted to go at least half way to get some pictures, and out of nowhere we all decided we’d go all the way. 

I went up from the side, via the rocks, and got up there to get pics of Bia coming up.  She made it all the way with no problem, and loved it.  Carol came up the same way I did, and Bella stayed down as she had her iPad with her.  I went down quick to keep her iPad, and Bella went up via the stairs, again with no problem, and loved it. 

We checked around that area a bit, the girls found a dead deer (likely) carcass, and we started going back.  Bia was feeling adventurous, so we decided I’d start running through the rocks on the way back (slow run) and she’d follow me, and that was pretty cool.  She was right behind me, no fear, going up and down, jumping over, and enjoying it.  She said she loved that, and wants to do it again. 

When we got to the car we all agreed that was the most fun trail we did so far, and if we have time we’d go back. 

By this time it was already 6pm or so, the weather had changed a bit and was no longer overcast, we could see the sun out and it had warmed up a bit to 45 or so, we were on our way out of the park. 

There were a few final stops in view points that we did, amazing views of the park and now we could see the sun up above the grasslands, awesome pictures.  We stopped at the Badlands National Park Entrance sign to take a family selfie as a memory of our first national park visit. 

We had just enough time to make it to Wall Drug, so I stepped on it and we went there.  We got there right around 6:25, and they were closing some parts at 6:30, and others at 7.  We had enough time to see what the place is about.  It is a neat little place with all kinds of things, souvenirs mainly of all kinds, but also some food.  The girls were going crazy with so many little things to see (meaning buy), so I personally was kind of glad we didn’t have much time there. hahahaha… we saw a bit of it, and decided to eat somewhere before heading back.  We had a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant down the street.  We drove home from there, which is a 1 hr drive, got back and Carol finished laundry.   Everyone got ready for bed, and we were out for the day.  Really nice day.

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