there isn't any sand in this desert.

As you can all see from the pictures... We arrived safely at the
badlands. Due to the time change, we actually arrived right around
the planned time! The drive (about 7 hours) went super quickly
without any complaints from the kids. They are already in a good
travel routine. Once we break camp, we pile in the car and get right
to driving. They spend a couple of hours just looking out the
windows, coloring and writing in their acitivity books. We do a
couple of cd's of fun road trip music and they dance and sing. After
we stop to make and eat lunch, we put on a show for them, then they
all sleep for the rest of the drive. They really are rockstars.

So, the drive was a breeze and after the few days prior... We felt
like we earned that! As soon as we got to the badlands, we took some
pictures and explored a little. Almost as soon as we got there, a
small herd of some animal, which is still in question, walked right
across the road super close to our van. One guy said "about a quarter
mile up there are a bunch of antelopes with their babies!". Then tom
called the sheep, which is way less exciting. So, for the sake of the
story, I will go witthhhhhh.... Gazelles. A herd of gazelles were
just hanging around the cars with their babies. It was awesome.

Shortly after that, tom's deep depression came to an end when a herd
of buffalo also crossed the road in front of us, putting tom in the
middle of a lifelong dream - and only feet from real live buffalo.
(Whether or not these buffalo are wild is a matter of serious debate
between tom and I. He takes the position that since these buffalo are
undoubtedly happy and would probably never want to leave the badlands,
then they are wild. I, obviously, disagree because that is the
stupidest thing I've ever heard. A happy buffalo is not necessarily a
wild buffalo. Wild means free. Even if the buffalo don't want to
walk down I-90 to go to Wall Drug, they aren't wild unless they COULD
if they wanted to. I digress.)

So, we set up our tent at a free, primitive campground right in the
badlands (or batmans as harper calls them). Then we hiked up a pretty
steep hill and had dinner on the cliff. The kids did great climbing,
even harper insisted on going the whole way without help. It wasn't
an easy hike, so they were pretty excited to reach the top, which gave
us an awesome view. We ate a fast dinner and headed back down to
camp. We had zero run-ins with rattle snakes, which was more than
some other hikers that we met could say. One buffalo did wander down
to our campground, but minded his own business as we took pictures
(from a safe distance, mom.)

We got right into our tent and did a little family devotional. (Tom
organized some devotionals with some memory verses that the kids have
already all mermorized the first couple lines. They are some verses
from deuteronomy about how god goes before you in your travels,
pitching your camp for you by fire, etc. It is perfect scripture for
our trip. after that we ate backpacker's freezedried ice cream which
was funa and the kids loved it. We slept without the rainfly for the
first time because we did not want to miss the sky. It was beautiful
and worth taking the very small risk of getting rained on.

This morning we got up and actually broke camp and left ten minutes
EARLY! Ahhhh! Granted we had to get up at 6:30am and it still took
us 2 1/2 hours to get going... But we had ten minutes to spare!

We continued exploring the badlands, which we may have appreciated
just a touch more than the kids. Don't get me wrong, they really were
in awe at the vastness of it. At first. A few hours in... Let's just
say that I'm glad the park charges per car and not per person, because
at one point marlie literally had a pillowcase over her head. What
can ya do?

From there we went to the famous Wall Drug. We splurged and got a
pizza and some homemade donuts. It was nice not having to deal with
coolers and campstoves and packing food. We just arrived back to the
badlands for night #2. There is a cactus on our campsite and we have
a view of the beautiful rock formations, as well as the prairies. So
tonight, we will enjoy another beautiful night at "the batmans" and
tomorrow: "Rount Mushmore."