Day Two

BadlandsWe saddled up at the break of dawn. Six riders. Two trail guides. It was supposed to be a simple little two-hour trek through the woods. Little did we know that bison would block our every path.

“They are chasers; horses are runners. The two just don’t get along,” explained our lead guide after spying more than a few piles of cow pies.

Our small group picked up on the tension in the air, but the horses seemed calm enough. Then the lead guide said in a very strident voice, “TURN AROUND.”

Those horses did exactly as they were told and we all beat feet in a Monty Python-styled “Run Away” with the side guide running interference between us and the big bison.

And so it went for two hours with us dodging these very territorial and cranky horned beasts. We took all manner of detours even climbing up and DOWN slippery slopes studded with rocky scree.

“Keep your legs on each side and your head in the middle,” said our guides. We focused and managed to return hale and whole, but more than a little keyed up and a lot saddle sore.

Kathy and I self-medicated with an ice cold beer and a rib-sticking lunch in Hot Springs, then trekked on out to the Badlands. My map quest directions were faulty. That became abundantly clear in the first 15 minutes. But my navigator consulted her multitudinous maps and came up with an alternate route.

When the road transitioned from asphalt to a washboard-pitted gravel, I looked at her in silent question.

“Huh,” she said. “I guess that’s why the map has Route 2 as broken line and not a solid line.”

“And how long is that broken line?”

“About an inch and a half.”

Two hours…and a most magnificent drive later we hit paved road once again. During the solitude of that alien landscape we saw not one other human being or car. The wind was the only other living thing. And it was good and spirited company.

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