BootsnAll Travel Network

The Long And (Un)Winding Road

Badlands Forever

Originally uploaded by roupiesontour

It’s official – today we hit the middle of nowhere. I decided to take the scenic route through the Badlands – this was great to start with – instead of the farmhouses of Iowa it was an open road surrounded by “plains” of grass and no homes, no people, no cars – just grass – as far as the eye could see. Herds of horses running around their fields, sheep and more huge cows but no people! After 4 hours of the same scenery I was so glad to see civilisation again I nearly kissed the golden arches of McDonalds. Apart from the obvious road improvements, I imagine it has not changed much since the huge herds of bison swept across the plains, chased by the Sioux or Cheyenne. You could really picture it.

We had to take a small detour in the morning as petrol was getting low – we ended up in Akaska – population 42. I walked into the dinner/bait shop/gas station to ask how to use the single pump and everyone turned round to stare – OUTSIDER! If it had just been me I think I would have stayed and had lunch to find out more but with the kids I just imagine the worst (seen far too many horror movies) so filled up and off we went – quickly.

In one of the guidebooks it said the best way to open up the west is to greet passing traffic in the car by resting your right hand on the steering wheel and raising a finger to say hi. Bearing in mind the number of cars that you are likely to encounter – you should not have to do this often. I started doing it out of boredom but it felt like you were flipping the finger not saying hi at all. I progressed to a 3 finger Mexican wave and the joy felt when we got a reciprocal wave was great! For the record – pick up truck cowboys were the best wavers, women seldom responded.

Who did we meet today? Well there was Ed on the Indian reservation, an old very wrinkled Native American holding the Stop/Go sign for some roadworks. Being the only car for miles and having to stop was a bit puzzling but it went down to one road ahead. I was told I had to wait for the lead car to come from the other side – about 10 minutes! Time to stretch our legs and chat. Apparently the winters are not that bad around there – I just imagined they were awful as soon as the first snow falls. Ed said boredom was the worst thing – he whittles walking sticks out of wood and buffalo horn and just happened to have some with him but we were saved as the lead car appeared!

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