In addition to traveling to the Pipestone national monument yesterday I also drove through eastern South Dakota and into the Great Plains. This is Big Sky Country. Here you can see for miles around just looking outside the window.
Along the highway there are numerous roadside attractions from the man walking dinosaur and the giant concrete prairie dog. Everyone knows the tourists are here to visit Mt. Rushmore and the badlands and they all try to find some way to bring you off the highway into town. A lifelong prairie dog fan, I did stop to see the concrete prairie dog and also found a real prairie dog on the prairie. He popped out of his little hole and posed for the camera.
My last stop yesterday afternoon was to go through Badlands National Park. For hundreds of miles in South Dakota there is softly rolling hills covered in long grasses and ranches. But, all of a sudden you turn a corner and it is as though the land has been cut in half. Jagged scars of rocks dot the horizon and as you move closer you see these great peaks and valleys where white rock touches blue sky. In some ways this country reminds me of the painted desert in NM, a barren landscape with minimal vegetation. It is a beautiful place. Towards the end of the badlands the cliffs take on yellow and pink tones from different deposits on the rocks. Then just as suddenly as it appeared, you find yourself back in the prairie. The land is flat again and the grasses wave across the valleys.