Finding My Limits
Since the last post, I've gone through a bit of Canada, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota. WHEW! No wonder I'm almost due for another oil change after less than two weeks.
This whole trip, I've been taking much shorter stops than I anticipated. Once I got to the U.P., I had made a conscious decision to slow the fuck down. Stay in one spot for a second. RELAX. Pull out the hammock for chrissakes and chill out. And the U.P. is gorgeous.
See what I mean? It's ridiculously beautiful up there. Perfect place to pull out a hammock and do nothing, right? Unfortunately, the mosquitoes and black flies think it's the perfect place for you to come out and set yourself up as a blood buffet. I wish I had more photos from Michigan, but I had to get out. I have a very rational hatred of mosquitoes, but on top of that, I also have an irrational hatred of mosquitoes. It's like a hatred cake with hatred icing. And the icing is made with buttercream hatred, so you know it's the really high quality hatred.
So, after massively increasing my chances of getting West Nile, I left the beautiful, beautiful Upper Peninsula in my rear view mirror. I met up with my friends Ellie and Tim in Wisconsin, in an adorable town just outside of Madison. The next day, I drove through Madison, but everybody I know in Madison was out of town, so I posted up in a coffee shop and did some programming and math calculations for astrophotography. More on that later, hopefully.
(I didn't get many photos of Wisconsin, but I did stop on the side of the highway to get these)
Sorry, Minnesota, I don't have much to say about you this time. I just drove through to get to the Badlands in South Dakota. If it's any consolation, the last time I visited Minneapolis, I thought it was a great city. Even in January.
By the way, when you're driving on I-90, once you hit South Dakota, the speed limit jumps up to 80 miles per hour. Which is when I found out that my van is speed limited to 77 mph. Luckily, everyone seemed to be pretty civil when they passed me. The weirdest part is that when I go downhill, the van won't let me even coast above 77 mph. She has her limits.
I was pretty excited to get to the Badlands and be in a National Park again. And, I have to say, the Badlands are pretty amazing. They are a bitch to photograph though, and when I got there, the lighting was terrible. It was dull and overcast almost the entire time.
I figured I'd drive around, get a lay of the land, and wait for better lighting the next day. I never really got to that good lighting (more on that in a bit). Even still, I'm not even sure I could capture the feeling of being there in a photograph. You really have to be there to get the whole experience. It's vast and hostile and delicate and just flat out weird.
And aside from the landscape, the wildlife is amazing.
(there were also prairie dogs and I spotted a deer, but I didn't get any good photos of them)
The park has a free (!) campsite, so I drove the twelve miles of extremely bumpy dirt road to get there and called it a night. The next day, it was a bright clear sky, but I woke up way after sunrise and missed that dramatic side lighting. The overhead lighting just doesn't show off the texture of the Badlands.
The other thing about harsh, overhead lighting from the sun is that it heats everything up. As I was trying to kill time until the sun was in a better spot in the sky, I ended up going hiking, because I make really good decisions, like walking around in 95 degree heat.
I didn't push myself too hard and only went on the easier hikes. I drank all the water, I wore all the sunscreen, I put on my adventurin' hat. But it still wore me out. I needed to find somewhere to relax and get away from the sun. Unfortunately, that area of South Dakota doesn't seem to have figured out shade. Dear South Dakota: Build a fucking awning somewhere.
Once the temperature hit triple digits, I hit the road, cranked the A/C, and waved goodbye to South Dakota. I have my limits.
Bonus pic! On my way out of South Dakota, I hit up Mount Rushmore, and managed to drive by right around when they were lighting it up. I also chatted with a family from Arizona who were also waiting by the road.