From the Badlands to Custer State Park (Day 8)

Sadly, clouds blew in overnight, and the morning scenery was more dour than it had been the day before. After a tasty buffet breakfast at the lodge near the campground, we headed to the Badlands Visitor Center. Ranger Ryan recommended a hiking route for us – the Notch Trail – and we headed off to hike the Badlands.

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The hike was beautiful and not too challenging, and the landscape was completely alien. It looked like a cross between old Lone Ranger shows and the planet Mars in Total Recall. After making Rebecca nervous with my climbing prowess, we escaped intact and continued our drive west.

I'm part mountain goat.
I’m part mountain goat.

After several more hours of driving, we stopped for lunch in Rapid City at what had to be the saddest TGI Friday’s ever. Our meal was mediocre at best, and started a conversation about how much money we’d been spending eating out … and how utterly forgettable most of it had been.

Inspired by that barely palatable meal, we drove up the street to Walmart, where we finally took the time to plan some meals and stock the cooler with campfire food and traveling snacks – to help us eat healthier and spend less money on food we weren’t really enjoying anyway.

We then headed for our campsite in Custer State Park, and getting excited as we passed signs for Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument. The drive to our campsite was stunning, and we were thrilled by the beauty and tranquility of our campsite when we arrived. 

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We were also excited to see the shower facilities, which were a dramatic  improvement over the previous night’s. We set up camp and tied out our new camp stove and cook set. Rebecca made a delicious dinner of pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad. After dinner we sat and enjoyed the fire until we got too chilly and turned in.

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I grew up in New Jersey, went to college in Virginia, and married a girl from New Hampshire, so I can drive the East Coast in my sleep. I love exploring, jumping out of airplanes, whitewater rafting, fast cars, comic books, and generally refusing to act my age. More practically, I love budgeting and financial planning, renovating and updating older homes (and now campers), and learning to make our family as self-sustaining as possible.

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