To the Badlands, of course. More specifically, Badlands National Park in South Dakota. And you don’t have to be bad to go there as they let us in with no trouble.
Actually we made 4 major stops today. First to the Prairie Homestead, then to the Minuteman Missile Display, then through the Badlands National Park, and finally to the famous Wall Drug Store in Wall, SD.
We got up early to get going as we knew it would get hot. (Eventually, the temp as registered by the car thermometer reached 97!) We drover about 90 miles out to the road that goes into the Badlands NP. But first on the road for us was the Prairie Homestead.
This homestead was occupied beginning in the early 1900s by the Brown family.
Because of the lack of wood, they actually built the portion on the left with 3 walls and a roof made out of sod. Later, the portion on the right was moved from another location and attached to the house. The old portion has a clay floor and the new part has a wooden one.
I’m going to let Carol tell more about this part of our day as she has more pictures for sure and is also more of an expert on this topic.
Here is a movie I made of the visit (about 2 minutes or so).
After visiting the Prairie Homestead, we backtracked a couple of miles to the Minuteman Missile Exhibit. This was interesting to me because I was in the Air Force and worked in the Directorate of Operations for the 15th Air Force. 15th AF had command of all the land based ballistic missile wings and so I was very familiar with the Minuteman Missiles. If you don’t know much about them, you can click here to read an article for more information.
I thought this poster pretty much says it all. The missile flight time is 30 minutes and delivery is guaranteed or your next one is free! (of course you won’t survive to make your claim).
Each 10 missiles was controlled by a Launch Control Facility (LCF) pictured above. The 10 missiles were in a ring several miles away from each other and the LCF. Each squadron had 5 LCFs or 50 missiles and each Wing was composed of three squadrons, or 150 missiles. There were 6 bases that had the missile wings and all were commanded by 15AF where I worked. There were always two officers on duty in each LCF and they would wait for the appropriate go-codes to launch their missiles. Fortunately, that message never came!
Above is a picture of one of the actual missile sites. At one time, there were about 1000 of these scattered all over Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Missouri. Now only the Minuteman 3 sites remain as the others were deactivated through the START treaties.
Next we drove about 5 miles further and came to the park entrance for the Badlands National Park. Of course our $10 lifetime senior pass got us in with no problem. (If you are over 62 and don’t have one of these passes, you are missing out on a great deal.)
The sky in this area was really affected by the wildfires still burning in Colorado and Wyoming. So the contrast in the pictures is not as good as we would have liked.
Again, Carol will probably have better pictures on her blog as she touches them up. Be sure to see her entry at Carolksjourney.
I did produce a 3 minute video which shows some of the highlights of our visit. You can view it below:
I found this formation to be interesting and unique. We saw it just before we drove onto the plains and out of the park. Not sure why the two columns are left standing, but it is different than the other rock formations in the park.
Our drive through the park was about 45 miles total and when we left the park, we were only a few miles from Walls Drug Store in Wall, SD. Carol will have more detail on this very interesting city and stop.
Look carefully at the above picture. You can see the tourists engaging in the great pastime of prairie dog watching!