The Badlands of South Dakota

This is it.  The last post on the big 2013 family vacation.

On our way home, we continued our small detour and ventured into the South Dakota Badlands.  We spent quite a few hours driving through the park, admiring bizarre landscape and its abundant wildlife. 

While most of the mountainous formations were a pale ash color, there were splashes of color.  These pink and yellow layers in the rock were very striking. Looking at these pictures now, it's easy to let the imagination run a little wild.  Could this be some alien landscape undergoing human terra-forming? Hmm. Story fodder for later, perhaps. 

They were so ready to go home and weren't quite as impressed as mom and dad at this point.  This changed, though, when the animals started to appear. 

We might not have spotted these bighorn sheep if some other tourists hadn't been out photographing them.  They were several ridges away and their coats and horns really didn't stand out in stark contrast against the backdrop of the sand-colored mountains.  

We watched these fellas (I assume they're boys because of those I wrong?) for some time. Eventually, though, we decided to leave them to their sunbathing. 

Not too far around the next bend we found the prairie dog town.  Can I just say that I think these little critters are adorable?  

There were hundreds (thousands?) of these little critters in the Badlands, but this concentration of burrows were fairly close to the road and easily accessible. I was able to get fairly close to this mama and her babies without alarming them.  When I got a little too close for comfort, they chittered at me to keep my distance. Strangely, they did not bolt below ground. 

There were, of course, more pronghorns.  This feisty pair even put on a bit of a show by locking horns a bit. 

Yikes!  Rattlesnakes?  I was walking barefoot earlier.  If I had known rattlesnakes might be in the vicinity, I wouldn't have gotten out of the car!

After seeing this sign, I tried my best to keep the boys from wandering off into the grass.  They found my paranoia amusing.

My oldest even did a little videotaping and cell-phone photography with my phone.  Although you can't really see it here, he was laughing as he kept the phone of my reach.  Stinker!

We were nearly out of the park when we happened to notice these bighorn sheep ambling along.  I snapped a few pictures from the car.  Ken was a bit braver.  He pulled over, grabbed the camera, and crept up along a grassy buttress that blocked him from the sheep's sight.  

They never knew he was there. 

After several hundred miles in the car later, we were home.  While it was sad to think we would soon be back at work and into the old routine, it was very nice seeing this little fella again!

We sure did miss him.