From Glacier to the Badlands and beyond / by Kenneth Benson

There were so many locations on this first leg of the trip that were cut due to time. Wanting to get to Vermont and spend as much of the summer as possible with "Mimi and Pops” we hade to make some decisions. Off the list went Nelson B.C. Bye bye Yellowstone, Denver, and the San Juan Islands. We 86’d Mt. St. Helens and Whistler. We’ll get to those some day. 

So we are cruising through faster than we would if we had no place to go but that part of the trip will come soon enough.  At that point blog posts will come once a moth because nothing will change. There are two places however that in the last week that have been highlights.  One was always on the list and one was just on the way and actually an afterthought. Our first, and a long time bucket list item for Devon was Glacier National Park. Tucked away in northern Montana it is... anything from here on out will just sound like I am quoting the website, so go there.

If you haven't been, go. Don’t take your dog and hopefully your children cooperate.  Most of the best vistas are accessed by hikes (website fact: over 700 miles of trails), most were hikes we couldn’t take due to the dog, in fact the dog wasn't allowed. We lucked out with a 75 degree overcast day so the dog stayed in the car for our hike to Avalanche Lake Just getting a mile or two off of the main road puts you away from the crowds enough to feel the solitude and magnitude that the landscape can inspire. The "Road to the Sun" is amazing and you can drive it or access it via shuttle. Camping is first come first served so get there early.

Apparently Glacier is now on fire, so if it becomes forever a burnt shadow of its former self then, so sorry you missed it. But seriously you should go soon because it is day by day becoming a shadow of itself and will soon have no actual Glaciers to speak of.


The Badlands of South Dakota were never really on either of our radars, and while stunningly beautiful it will leave those who have spent any time in southern Utah or even better, grown up with Zion, Bryce and Arches in their backyard a little underwhelmed.  It’s beauty comes from the stark contrast of the landscape that surrounds it. Sorry South Dakota but... Our gas milage sunk to zero because of the incredible headwind that existed across the entire state. Devon couldn't stop wondering why there were no windmills.  We are still wondering, as soon as we passed into MN they were everywhere. We stopped at Sturgis.  This year is the 75th anniversary of the rally and the town is geared up to sell about 100,000 t-shirts next month. The place looked like any spring break town right before the break hits. Two of the most interesting stops on this part of the trip were Devils Tower and the Little Bighorn Battle site, neither in SD.

The Badlands were beautiful though. I can't diss them too much.  We camped in the park, saw some amazing sunsets and dehydrated ourselves hiking in the heat. Pro tip: The rubbermaid food bin makes a great swimming pool for Vega.

Visiting these two parks in such a short space of time gave us a small glimpse of the extreme climates and vistas available to us as we cross the country.  We seem to prefer mountains and rivers to deserts and grasslands, but so do countless others.

We are now in Minneapolis and I wish we could spend a week, but we leave tomorrow. This was just a short stop on the way elsewhere but one that has been recharging. We have discovered that if we go more than five days camping and not staying with friends and their shower that a motel room is more than a luxury it is a necessity.

Neither of us are beginners at the camping don't shower for a week lifestyle. Working in wilderness therapy can create a comfort with certain levels of dirt and gross that most would find offensive. In wilderness though, everyone is dirty, it's the norm. Not so generally out and about. I had a wake up call today as I held Vega's hand in an exceptionally fabulous free kids pool in Souix Falls SD. I was wading with Vega helping her climb the stairs to, and not drown going down, a water slide in the pool. On one of our trips back to the stairs I dipped my hat into the pool and put it on my head. As refreshing as it was, when my eyes opened I got a look from the lifeguard the reminded me how filthy I probably was. Standing there wading in 1 ft water in the grimy tank top and shorts I had been wearing and hiking in for 5 days I must have looked awful and smelled even worse. Thank you Vega, if not for your legitimizing effect I may have been arrested.