We have arrived! We took 2 days to get to the Badlands National Park, stopping in a campground in Adrian, Minnesota on Saturday night and arriving in the Badlands mid afternoon on Sunday. We quickly set up camp, everyone scurrying to fill their role. Childhood memories immediately rushed to the forefront as I recalled many summer nights under the stars. I could hear the sound of crunching gravel under my feet and the crickets in the woods. Flashlights flickered across the pitch black sky. The campfire crackled and my fingers were sticky from s’mores. As long as I live, those will be some of my fondest memories. And now I hope my children will say the same.
After reviewing hiking plans for Monday, we enjoyed a nice sit down family dinner cooked in the RV (pre-made by dear friends for our trip). Then, we strapped on our headlamps, tightened our hiking boots, zipped up our warm jackets and headed out into the crisp, cool prairie for an evening program to learn all about the Badlands. Afterwards, we spent time looking through a telescope at the moon and marveling at its intricate detail. This is truly a place covered in God’s fingerprints. Peace and tranquility settled upon my soul, and for a small moment, everything was right. It’s good to be here. It’s good to be together.
Yesterday, Monday, we spent a full day hiking and exploring together. My eyes couldn’t quite comprehend the beauty of what they saw. Massive buttes, deep gorges, layered rock formations, steep canyons and towering spires. Strenuous hiking trials, including the infamous Notch Trail, were checked off our list and we reveled in a day of adventure. Evan was fearless yesterday and I allowed him to push the limits that I set upon him. Then, I quickly recalled the elite climber that he is and his steps are always well measured and calculated. He’s meticulous and knows his capabilities. Cole followed suit and conquered some amazing climbs himself. I love watching them explore and I will never forget how the grandeur of the Badlands made them both gasp in wonder as they summited climb after climb. I’d like to think that although they felt small and insignificant next to the towering buttes and steep drop offs, they built confidence in the great outdoors. It was truly a magnificent day. (Lots of pictures…blog continues below)
As evening approached, the sun began to rest behind the buttes and the brisk air was invigorating and awakened my soul. We gathered around the campfire and made s’mores while Jeff’s IV dripped. As the fire began to roar, sparks leapt off the wood and made a cracking sound. Oh how I love that sound. It’s calming to my restless and anxious heart. We replayed the day that we spent in nature with tales of adventures and misadventures. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by the people I love most, in a place that words cannot even come close to describing. It was a great day and I am grateful!
Jacks are up, van is tow ready and we are off to Mount Rushmore followed by Custer State Park.