The sun was just rising and the air had a hint of cool to it from the night, though the promise of new heat was evident. I rode slowly down the wide highway toward Badlands National Park, past dry, open prairies, the Badlands on the horizon like torn paper against the sunrise. They're like icebergs in reverse, made of heat and contoured by wind, and soon I was in them, and they grew around me, and as they did my amazement grew as well.
The Badlands are hard to translate. They appear to be made of sand or dust, fragile and delicate though massive. And yet they have a kind of shell - one can walk up a crest without sliding; sometimes you leave a footprint, sometimes, no trace. I cruised through and around this strange terrain, the Badlands pulling me deeper in, the road following their shapes in steep curving rises to crest and point and drop, down, down, steeply into the heart of this landscape, and from there all that you see are prehistoric peaks growing from you in every direction, penetrating the sky.