Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Driving Through the Badlands

[I have moved to a cellular-friendly location that I found on my own, so I’m resuming posting, but in the original sequence.]

Emerging from the camper with a typical old-man groan, I instantly heard a rumbling. A herd of Antelope was apparently startled and dove off the plain down into the erosion, and stayed there until I departed!

Yup, With temps being forecast to be in the high 80s and low 90s for almost a week around Wall, I reluctantly decided to vacate the premises. I had considered doing a week south of the Badlands (in the vast grasslands that surround it) because a Ranger had recommended it for its wildlife, but livable weather has its priority with me. I needed significantly more elevation.

So I packed up and instead of making the short hop to Wall and I-90 west, I looped back down into the Badlands National Park in order to take advantage of the free hot shower, potable water and dumpsters available at the campground next to Cedar Pass Lodge. The Badlands Loop Road is nearly 30 miles long, so at the Park’s 35-45 MPH limits, it takes a long while to go end-to-end. And, unless you’re on a mission as I was, you’re going to stop and at least gawk a dozen times or so. Then Wall for groceries, propane, and lunch.

This vintage Honda was parked outside the hardware store & laundromat in Wall. Turns out “Motorcycle Mike”, who said he lives in back of the local Harley dealer, likes to restore old bikes. Parts are hard to come by, and they ain’t cheap, so forget about getting a deal on this CB90. It is, however, still less than a new model. Just don’t break it.

In the spirit of taking advantage of the extra miles involved, I once again stuck my iPhone in back of the Mighty Furd’s windshield and, halfway through the loop, set it to record. The low whine at the beginning could be assumed to be engine noise. It isn’t. It’s tire whine. The Cooper Discoverer ST/Maxx tires were pretty quiet when new, but have gotten progressively louder as the treads have worn, so some quiet ambiance music now covers over it. (In trade, the Maxx’s original uncertain handling has long since tightened up as well.)

Anyway, I clipped the results down to a 16 minute run time at 515MB file size. Why so large? It’s at 720p resolution, which is the bottom end of High Definition, and that extra screen size takes a heap of data. Could be worse – I settled for the lowest available quality setting to avoid the 1GB & 1.5GB file sizes of the medium and high quality settings. In this instance, it’s all worth it as long as you go to the lower right of the box and select the set of brackets which denotes switching to full-screen display. (Pressing Esc – the Escape key – switches the display back to normal.) Do not start this video if you are on any type of limited-data cellular account. You need unlimited data and a fairly hearty signal strength. Should you watch this video in the tiny standard size used on this blog page, you’ll be dimming the experience quite a bit. What you will see on YouTube is not as sharp as the actual file, but I suppose that can’t be helped.

A heavy thunderstorm had gone through a couple of days before, just missing me but inundating the west end of the Park with several inches of water. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sage Creek Campground was flooded, with access issues. This video shows a heavy cloud cover, which dims the colors of the land quite a bit. Still worth it, though.

If you have never been through the Badlands National Park and don’t hope to anytime soon, you’ll want to watch this all the way through. Naturally, the camera being on a fixed windshield mount, you’ll see only the road ahead and the hills rising above you, rather than the valleys off to one side and below you. But ah, what hills they are, as you wend your way between them! You may find yourself mesmerized by the undulating ribbon of road, but the passing scenery should break the spell. If you waste 15 minutes of your life watching this thing, you may as well go all the way to the end. After presenting a solemn tour of such majestic wonders, then returning to the mean streets can be an emotional let-down. To that end, I have taken care to set the viewer back into reality – my reality, with a capital “D” – just before the screen goes black. 🙂 Enjoy.

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