As usual, my husband was up at 4am making lots of noise in the bathroom. That's his 'silent' way of saying, "Darling, love of my life, please get up immediately." So I did. We finished packing and left the house by 6, excited to get going. It was sprinkling, but we didn't care one bit. As we drove west through Da Plains and crossed the Missouri River (hello, Grandpa Larry in Heaven!), the terrain changed and got all amazing-looking. I remain absolutely in love with this place that I live.
First stop after the river was Al's Oasis, which is quite the tourist trap. But I love poking around their collection of Minnetonka moccasins, jewelry, and Native American toys.
After a couple more hours of driving, the skies cleared and shined the brightest blue we'd seen in days. And you know what they say about the sky out here. Wow. It also got hot and I had to roll my sleeves up.
The Badlands are bad-assed. I ask to stop every time we pass them because they take my breath away. That our Creator God made such an Earth for us to appreciate, it's quite a gift. It is joy!
On this trip, we parked and hiked through the Badlands, which we've never done before. Bryon spent summer trips here as a child so he's been everywhere, but I took two steps and marveled.
And we have never, NEVER seen the Badlands this green before. Typically the grass dries up and looks like desert by the end of the summer. But in the spring with the huge amounts of rain we have had this year? Yowza.
There were pronghorns and prairie dogs wandering around with us, too. It was quite the vacation for seeing wildlife.
Speaking of wildlife, my husband was so hawt while walking around the Badlands. Such a bad-ass.
I was determined not to be on my phone (Pinterest, Facebook, CandyCrush) any more than absolutely necessary during our trip. I wish I could say the same for my husband because, despite his efforts to the contrary, his phone rang the entire time we were gone. But he hung in there and gave his best effort to be relaxed, and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for terrible cell reception out there.
So instead of dinking around on my electronic devices and since I forgot to pack a book to read, I passed some time devouring Hayley's giant word search book. I swear, if there was an award out there for fastest word searcher, I would win it. That's thanks to Judy. Call me a nerd, I don't care.
As we approached the Black Hills we noticed our sunny skies diminishing. Storm clouds were rolling in over the mountains and sprinkles started to hit the windshield.
I'm grateful we made it into Rapid City, down to Keystone, and up to the Norbeck lookout on 16A before it got too rainy to get out and wander around.
It is breaktaking to be 5,000 ft up in the air. Closer to God, I say. Even the buffalo looked full of Jesus!
After getting just a tiny bit lost among these buffalo, we reached our cabin in Custer State Park. Whitetail deer and buffalo wandered around the campground during our entire stay. It was majestic!
We did a lot of driving along the winding mountain roads. We stopped and soaked in the beautiful scenery. Over and over and over I kept thinking, even the rocks will cry out to Him. Even the trees will reach for their Creator God. It was overwhelming to see such beauty.
The weather was amazing on Thursday.
And Custer State Park was no disappointment. SO much wildlife. We saw more buffalo than ever - even baby buffalo calves! Wild horses, mule deer, whitetail, pronghorns, mountain goats... thankfully, no mountain lions.
It was amazing. More to come.