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Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Badlands

We were travelling through the badlands. I was travelling through my mind: visions of bleak red landscapes inhabited by bronzed Ogala, some in buckskin and beads, their chiefs resplendent in long feathered head-dresses. In a squint, tiny men in blue galloped on horse-back, sabres drawn and bugles sounding, lost in ochre canyons and dwarfed by giant bluffs: The mental bric-a-brac of a very small child. (scroll down to blood red skies)

The reality was just, well….empty; hills and canyons a glare of gold beneath an unrelenting sun. We took photographs, walked some way in a narrow gulley, realised how easy one could become quickly and hideously lost in the complex twists and turns or ancient rock, how quiet it was, how dry.

We travelled a bit farther on and I walked on prairie, pushing through grass. It was pale green and wiry, and stretched forever. I was here – in the west – the dream of a very small boy come true and yet, somehow it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t 1850. . . or 1700. I was trapped in a twentieth century time-line and there was nothing I could do about it, except day-dream and write.


Maria Zannini said...

The Badlands is such an unimaginable place. Beautiful yet terrifying as well.

I can only imagine pioneers trekking into an oblivion just to reach their final destination.

It took a lot of guts. Braver people than me.

Mike Keyton said...

Courage is only one element: desperation, greed, and that most enduring of human qualities - blind curiosity

Terri Coop said...

I've just arrived via Maria's blog party and will definitely be back. What an adventure!

I used to get in the car and just go until I got bored and tired. I love trekking. Right now family obligations have me anchored firmly (with battleship chains), so my adventuring will be virtual for a while. Thanks for the trip.


Mike Keyton said...

Terri, thanks for passing through, speaking of which, do I pass anywhere near where you live? I'll check your blog and find out :)

Shelley Munro said...

We didn't get to The Badlands when we visited South Dakota. Maybe next time. Our ancestors were very brave traveling through all sorts of terrain to get to a better life. I'm in New Zealand, but we have our pioneers down this way too.

Mike Keyton said...

Thanks for calling in Shelley. There were pioneers in Australia and New Zealand, I know - only no comics ever glamourised them like America.

It's pretty humbling when you sit back and think of sacrifices made by others - that's assuming their motives were all worthy. Where else have your been in America? Did our paths ever cross other than in South Dakota?