June flew by! I didn’t even send my monthly email to you, so busy was I at the shop. Two regular staff members left, one without notice, so I’ve had to scramble to staff the store and the Farmers Market. And to cover the shop during my vacation scheduled for the first two weeks of July.
We switched it up a bit this year, heading for the Badlands in South Dakota before Colorado. My husband is an avid photographer and he wanted to capture night shots of the Milky Way. We decided to camp for three nights at one of the “dark sites”, prized for lack of light pollution.
It’s been tremendously wet there this summer. Indeed, we encountered some of the worst rain driving I’ve ever seen between between Minneapolis and the Badlands. When we arrived at our camp site, much of it was a swampy mess. We pitched our tent away from the wet and made camp. Greg set up his camera before sunset. Then the wind started and the clouds moved in. We hurriedly went to the tent with our dogs. And the camera.
At first it seemed okay, listening to the rain on the tent and watching the tent sides billow in the wind. Severe lightening with thunder rolled in and the storm intensified. The feel of the rain against the tent walls was sharp, like hundreds of pin pricks. And the tent was rocking side to side. We were lying on our camping mats when I felt a fine spray of wet. It was raining in the tent. First a little, then a lot. Then more. The noise was tremendous; our dogs were distressed.
One of the tent walls started to collapse in–we staved off disaster for awhile by pushing that side of the tent outward, bracing against the wind. After one incredible lightening strike and clap of thunder, we realized that the bottom of the tent was floating, rather like a waterbed and that it was time to abandon ship.
At that point the storm began to subside. We ventured out with the dogs first, so they could be safe in our truck while we broke camp. The water in places was up to our knees. We quickly began heaving our dripping wet gear into the vehicle. Lastly, we took down the tent and found that a number of the tent poles had been bent by the storm. Straight line winds will do that.
We had trouble deciding what to do next–too tired to think straight and the hotels in the immediate area were sold out. At first we thought we should head to Colorado immediately, then realized that would take hours and hours and it was already well after midnight. We eventually made our way to Wall SD, checking into a Best Western motel around 2 am.
Our dogs Comet & Zorro are great travel companions.
My husband and I are great problem solvers. After considering all options, we decided to try to find a SD two-night accommodation on VRBO. We knew chances were slim, as it is the 4th of July. We lucked out: I found a cabin near Hot Springs that was available. The property manager was super efficient, messaging back and forth swiftly.
So here we are, in a small cabin, dozing in our chairs. Oh, and it just started hailing a few minutes ago.
My husband I are known for our vacation disasters, all mechanical, usually involving a tow somewhere, once to the tune of $1500 (all the way home from Iowa). We laughed last night at this new iteration–as Gilda Radner said, it’s always something.
I am left in awe at the power of the natural world. Such force is to be respected. And ready to continue our adventure. I wonder what will happen next?


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