Day two began early – I was awake at 5 a.m. in anticipation of the shuttle landing, thinking it was at about 5:30. Turns out it wasn’t until 7:15. Oh well, t was a beautiful morning. The landing was exciting as usual. Didn’t sleep well anyway as it was still about 90 degrees when I crawled into the tent and then the wind blew all night long, though it didn’t seem to cool things off any.
I rolled out of the campground about 9 o’clock and discovered that the Badlands entrance was just a few miles from my scheduled stop at the Minuteman site. Since my tour wasn’t schedule until 1:30, it was the perfect way to spend the morning. I took a leisurely drive through the Badlands park, stopping to take some pictures. It’s an amazing landscape. I can’t image being one of those early pioneers running into that mess in a covered wagon.
The Bandlands loop drive (westbound) ends up at Wall, SD. I stopped at Wall Drug, but it was pretty much as I remembered, so I don’t think I spent 5 minutes there. From there it was a bit of a backtrack, only 20 miles, to the Missile Site. It was pretty interesting, but I think it’s clear what spending 24 hours at a time locked in a box prepared to destroy the world does to a person. One of the Park Service Rangers who led the tour was a former Missileer, and he was just a bit odd. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
I pulled into the Mt. Rushmore campground about 6 and have my campsite set up, so I’m going to grab a bite to eat and then think I’ll head over to Mt. Rushmore – I think they still light it up at night.