We drove through Badlands National Park today. What a desolate, lonesome place. Steep jagged cliffs with flat tops surrounded our RV. Every once in a while a beautiful prairie meadow popped up, and, lest we be lulled into complacence by the pretty wildflowers and comical prairie dogs in the meadows, signs warning “Beware of rattle snakes!” reminded us that though they may look that way, perfectly serene landscapes don’t actually exist.
We’ve been on the road over a week now, all living in the confined space of a 30-foot-RV. The kids don’t have their usual security blankets of television and video games, and I don’t get to work with my books every day, as I would at home. Like it or not, we are all together all day long.
And you know what?
It’s pretty fun!
Oh, we’ve each had our moments of frustration or meltdown (like the time we lost the bike rack and the bikes off the back of the RV). But we’ve also each had time to contemplate life and each other, something that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of our lives at home, work, and school. For the most part, the togetherness has been great.
The appreciation of that togetherness has come because of the solitude of places like The Badlands, the small hometown of Thoughtful Husband’s late father, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead, which is a 90 mile drive on a two lane country road once you exit the main highway (Hwy 90). It’s peaceful out there, but not boring. You can’t get a cell phone signal or wireless internet. Instead, at sunset, we sit and watch the sun sink below the waving prarie grass, and then we sit some more, around a roaring fire and chat a bit. Then we go to bed, perhaps with a book and a flashlight or with travel journals and pens in hand.
Togetherness in the solitude is something I wish we had more of. I’m reminded of a sign I saw when we entered South Dakota. It read, “Howdy! Welcome to South Dakota! Y’all are home now.” Indeed, we’ve felt very at home with the beautfiul country and with one another here. I’ll try to bring that feeling back to the Bay Area with me.
Long drive to Cody, Wyoming tomorrow. We’re staying in Spearfish, South Dakota tonight. Once we get to Cody, we’ll be attending their summertime night rodeo. Then it’s off to Yellowstone National Park for a couple of days before beginning the long drive home.
See you at the rodeo!