Sunday was probably the best day we’ve had on the entire trip. We met a rancher in town that I really got along with. We told him we were headed out to the Badlands and he suggested that after we finished we should head out to his ranch. He and his family were exceedingly generous and hospitable, but more of that later.
We headed out to the Badlands. The day was gorgeous and clear, which meant that the sun was so bright that it washed out some of the pictures, but you couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to ride through: warm, bright, and calm.
We road out rim road along the north edge of the badlands and even walked out onto some of the ridges.
Since it had just rained the day before there were actually bands of color visible on the ridges (we were told that you only see the bands after a rain). The top surfaces of the ridges were a gray dirt or mud that had split and dried like the pictures you see of droughts in Africa. I suppose that works its way down the sides and covers the color bands until rain washes it away. We stopped at the gift shop and I picked up a Badlands National Park decal for the gas tank to add to the Wind Cave sticker I got the day before. We road to the bottom of Rt 240 and then turned around and road back through the park.
Beth said that she really likes riding through the middle of some of the formations, but I liked riding across the high plateaus with the dramatic landscape falling away on either side. Also really cool was Conata Basin Rd. It winds down through a few of the formations and then goes straight and flat for a couple of miles before turning gravel. We turned around when we hit the gravel and road back into the badlands at about 60 mph. Just a really cool feeling riding across completely flat land into something as dramatic as the badlands.
After the ride through we headed out the Gerald and Sharla’s ranch north of Quinn (the ranch is about 15 miles northeast of Wall). The ride there was easy until we had to turn off of Quinn Rd on 230 which was sandy gravel. I had to laugh when I saw a sign saying speed limit 50…not a chance for me. When we arrived we just sat and talked like old friends for a while. After a while we headed out in the truck and Sharla drove us around the ranch with Beth in the cab and Gerald and I riding in the bed. They run a calving operation with about 7000 acres of land. We rode up to a ridge line with the cattle and watched the annular eclipse. When we got back to the house a couple of the guys were just getting back from varmint hunting. I got to try out one of their AR-15s…it’s been a while and it was fun! They served us dinner and then we headed out.
Gerald was concerned that it was late and he didn’t want me riding down the dirt road after dark and there are plenty of deer in the area. I guess I seemed pretty stubborn so he took it to Beth and convinced her that we needed to take the car. Evidently the first thing she asked him was, “You asked Ryan and he shot you down, right?” Wow my wife knows me! So finally we just took the car back and picked up the motorcycle in the morning. So somehow on a motorcycle trip I ended up driving the Ford Taurus of someone I had just met that morning!