The end of our first week started bright and early, we left the motel quite early after some breakfast due to needing to fit in the Green Giant Statue visit today as we didn't have time for it yesterday. It was a nice and sunny, so a good start to the day.
We all got in the van and headed to...

Blue Earth, MINNESOTA:
You could see fields for miles and then we pulled up to the Green Giant Statue. I was inadvertently dressed for the occasion, in green and it the sun the statue looked pretty incredible against the bright green scenery.

Even through there was bright sunshine it was really cold so we all just viewed the statue from a distance and hopped back in the van to warm up. No one was really interested in seeing any other areas here. It was fun to see, but we didn't spend very long here.

If it had been included in our driving day yesterday, we would have spent a bit longer here, but as we had a very exciting National Park coming up we all wanted to get on the road.
It was also here that one of the girls realised she had left her iPad at the motel we stayed at. Jake said we were too far away to go back in order to fit in all our day's activities, so they called the motel and after an anxious wait and call back they had found it. They arranged for it to be posted to the hotel the trip was stopping at in Los Angeles (Custom Hotel), as it seemed the most likely place we could meet back up with it securely. Rather than risking it go missing at any hostels we went to, National Parks wouldn't really be easy to send it to and most motels we would only be there for a night, so again it was a bit risky.
After a bit of extra time sorting this out we carried on our journey into our eighth state arriving in...

It had warmed up by now and it was nice to get out the van for a bit longer, take in the sun and to visit another roadside attraction, 1880 Town.
This does what it says on the tin. Its an indoor and outdoor attraction giving you a glimpse of rural 1880 America. In the sunshine it was quite a fun visit, all the buildings look like you imagine and see in films. Some you could go inside and were decked out like they would have been back in the day, like the saloon. Some were pretty eery, like the church, which you couldn't get into and were peeking through a metal grate to see where there was eery music being played inside. We had the opportunity to dress up but no one did!

We spent over an hour here learning about Dakota and America in the 1800s and of course, had a look in the gift shop.

On our way out we stuck a pin on the world map to show where we were from, the people running it were lovely, cheery and spoke to us for a while. It was the first pin of someone from Finland as well, so they were happy...smiles all round!!
Then it was back in the van and on to...

This was our first overnight stop in a National Park and boy was it incredible. It was such a nice day and the sun was still shining as we wound our way round the roads into the Badlands. We were slowly seeing the flat green land turning into a sandy colour landscape with first small rock formations and larger ones in the distance. They felt like they were growing into peaks around us through the winding roads in the National Park.

This was the second time, apart from Niagara Falls, that I really felt like we were seeing an incredible natural landscape. If you can do an American trip including a visit to the Badlands should be high on the list, I highly recommend it, it was like no other landscape i'd seen before.

After driving through the landscape for quite a while and getting close ups of the rocks passing by, we pulled into a lay-by area and stopped to get out the van and take in the scenery. We wandered around some different areas of the badlands, climbing some of the peaks and reading about them. The different coloured lines in the rocks are known as the Bands of Time and show different time periods in the earths history where layers have dried and cooled and contain different fossils from the ages, with the lower bands being from 75 million years ago when there would have been underwater.

The earth under your feet felt different to other places it felt like a mixture of sand and clay, with lots of bobbles of harder rock and then softer areas. It felt like some cratered moon landscape. The sun was shining and we had some amazing views.

On our way out of the Badlands we decided it would be fun to do a barbecue at the camp site for tonight. We stopped at the only store to pick up meat and the other food we would need, but as the store was small and on the edge of the National Park it didn't have enough for a decent dinner for all of us.

We got back in the van after getting some snacks and Jake drove us to the Badlands gift shop with restaurant / cafe attached. They were really accommodating and pulled some tables together for us. We all ordered hearty dinners, I had a carb overload on tomato pasta with cheese (I love the American tomato pasta sauces, even if though I imagine they are not that good for you!). Most of the others went for jacket potatoes or burgers. It was nice to get an early evening meal before staying in cabins for the night. After spending a while here we finished up dinner and had a look round the gift shop before getting back in the van and heading to...

Interior Township, SOUTH DAKOTA:
We drove down to where we would be staying for the night, the KOA campsite. This wasn't too far away on the edge of the Badlands (love that saying), taking in the sunset from the van.

As we were staying in cabins again so we got into mostly the same groups of three from before and each grabbed a cabin. It was exactly the same set up as the other cabins we had stayed in, a double bed and set of bunk beds with a couple of power points. We stuck our cameras and phones on charge taking turns and then my cabin mates and I headed to the shower block to get sorted before we got an early night.

These were a bit further away than any other campsites we'd used before but still only a couple of minutes walk and were the same set up again. These were slight more shabby chic but had an open sink are with lots of sinks and individual lockable cubicles with a bench and shower at the end. I'm not sure if it was because all three of us took up all the three showers but they were freezing! Only cold water by this point so after the shock of that it was back to the cabin quickly to try and get warmed up.

TOP TIP: If you're a camping or cabin newbie like me, try to use the showers as early as possible when you get to campsites. Using them before dark is always better. We rushed a bit to use the showers here and it was well worth it because we didn't have to wait to use them like others did later on and the longer you leave it the more chance you have to get cold waiting for them, as well as the water getting even colder later on. Some campsites turn hot water off overnight or turn the water off overnight so the pipes don't freeze, even in May! Bit of a shock to the system!

I think some people had drinks and chilled for a bit but as we were going to watch the sunset over the Badlands the next morning and had to be up for 5am we all got an early night...

ITINERARY (LISTED):                           Badlands NP - Short Hikes
ACCOMMODATION:                            Badlands KOA - Interior, South Dakota

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