Mako Sica, “Land of the Bad” Day 1

The urge to take a road trip has grown every day since landing on U.S. soil. We haven’t had a personal vehicle in two and a half years while we lived in Korea. Now that the situation has changed, the wild lands of America that I haven’t explored seem to be beckoning. We are fortunate that my wife landed a job a few months after our return. I’m still on the hunt for an income, but I just couldn’t get away from this desire to be alone with God in the wild. With my wife’s blessing (she’s a keeper ;-)), I answered this beckoning. I set my tires south and made my way to Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

My radio clock showed a bit past three pm and I was nearing the northeast entrance of the park, but still surrounded by grasslands. “Where are these lands they call bad?” I thought. “I don’t see much that looks wild or intimidating.” I paid fifteen bucks for a seven-day pass and as soon as I passed the ranger station I came upon Big Badlands Overlook. I quickly realized that I had spoken too soon about a lack of wild. I made a sharp left and parked my car to get my first views. Looking back at the ranger station across deep canyons I realized how easily I lose track of the big picture while I’m surrounded by “ordinary” grasslands.

The Northeast Entrance of Badlands National Park

According to the park guide I stumbled across, the Oglala Lakota Indians called this landscape “Mako Sica,” meaning “Land Bad.” For early locals and travelers, it’s easy to see why this wild landscape is called the Badlands. I can’t imagine trying to cross this place in a wagon without paved roads.

Big Badlands Overlook, and a reminder of our place.

Fortunately for others and myself, there is now a road that goes through what would have been a difficult pass.

Badlands Loop Road

I resisted the urge to stop every 100 yards to take a photo. My motel was just outside the park in a small town called Interior (Population: 67), and I needed to check in. A kind older woman greeted me at Badlands Inn. I asked her about the best places to watch the sunrise, then checked into my room. A few minutes later I was ready to spend at least a few hours with the remaining sun light.

“Some 69 million years ago, a great sea covered this area and deposited sediments here, a process that continued as changing land environments replaced the receding sea until it ended 28 million years ago. The erosion that continues to carve the Badlands began only half a million years ago and will stop only when the buttes have worn away.” – National Park Service and Badlands Natural History Association.

Surrounded by towering spires, I imagine myself at the bottom of a deep sea. Both the past and present landscapes leave me in awe. After a long day of driving and dying light, I call it a night, and head to the only restaurant I can find for some dinner. My plan is to go to bed early so I can watch the sunrise. A park ranger informed me that it will break the horizon at 6:19 am tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to the sunrise. Stay tuned for: Mako Sica “Land of the Bad” Day 2!

Check out: Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 

5 thoughts on “Mako Sica, “Land of the Bad” Day 1

  1. Pingback: Mako Sica, “Land of the Bad” Day 2 « Lee Phelps Photography

  2. Pingback: Mako Sica, “Land of the Bad” Day 3 « Lee Phelps Photography

  3. Pingback: Mako Sica, “Land of the Bad” Day 4 Finale « Lee Phelps Photography

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