Reflections from the Badlands

The stories about the naming of the Badlands is mixed. Either it’s from  the Native American Lakota tribe who said this landscape was hard to live in, although they had recognized—and learned to survive in—the hardship. Or the French who discovered this land on their routes for trading and declared them “bad.” Whichever. The environment stands stark and hard and beautiful. And, yes, bad.

Phil LaBelle, 2017.

But there is beauty to be uncovered. Like the spring flowers on the prairie that still are in bloom in early July. Or in the playfulness of the prairie dogs running in and out of their dens and jumping up and down. Or the cracked dry mud, peeling up in large chunks. Deep blue skies giving way to glorious sunsets followed by more stars than you can imagine.


This is the first overnight National Park stop in our road trip. We’ve spent one night so far, and another tonight before packing up and heading down the road to Wind Cave National Park. We cook outdoors at the picnic table. Sit in our chairs taking in the vastness of it all.
And through it I’m reminded of all the goodness of the created earth, even in these lands designated as “bad.” They are harsh and terrible and beautiful and glorious, just like life.

As evening draws near and the heat of the day begins to wane, I find myself filled with gratitude. For this time away. For the amazing things I’ve seen. For the love of my family.

I don’t always remember it—although I was reminded by a man out running the trail Noah and I hiked this morning—but I am living the dream. I’m living a life filled with goodness.

It helps to slow down and be reminded of this.