It began as many days do, with the sun shining in my eyes, waking me up. Except this time it was through The windows of my 2003 Mazda and not my bedroom. Today's itinerary was to check out Wind Cave National Park and camp in the area, allowing myself to relax a bit. I ended up getting to Wrinkled Rock Trailhead campsite about 12:30 the night prior. The drive from Rapid City to the campsite last night was interesting. First, after about 11 PM in Rapid City, apparently most of the stoplights just flash yellow, turning hem caution signs so as to not require one to stop and wait for the light to change (very convenient). Second, the drive snaked through the mountainous terrain that surrounds Mt. Rushmore, which in the dark took some serious concentration. I've been to the 4 big heads a couple times already so I didn't add it to this trip, but I drove right by the entrance. I also had to periodically stop for deer that were just chilling in or around the road as I tried not to overuse my brakes going up and down the winding roads of the Badlands national forest.
The Badlands National Forest is a beautiful area, I liked it more than I expected, and would love to go back and climb all the big rocks. When I got to the Wind Cave National Park it turned into a Prairie and the amount of wildlife surprised me. Bison, Pronghorn, and prairie dogs were scattered throughout, alongside the worlds nearly 5th largest cave system, the wind cave.
As I left the wind cave national Forest and noticed all the wildlife, I had a flashback to Ilex Forest in Pokémon Silver which is the only way your character could get to the next town. Since I was driving to Hot Springs, SD it felt like that was the main way to get to the town and therefore why I had that flashback. It was an odd feeling and brought me some nice nostalgia.
For some reason Google maps took me through a couple ranches to get here, which were bumpy dirt roads where I drove 15 to 20 miles an hour, and occasionally I had to navigate herds of cattle... A true pioneer. When I got to the reservoir I parked right next to the water, made some dinner and a little fire, then as it started to snow, went to sleep in my air mattress cubby of a car.
Then it happened, around 3:30am...I noticed a rustling of a bag somewhere in the car. At first I thought it was underneath my mattress and just readjusted...But then it happened again, and again, until finally I realized it was happening even when I didn't move a muscle...I wasn't alone in my car. DUN DUN DUN!
I quickly grabbed my flashlight and looked around. out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. I Iooked but saw nothing...so I waited, and sure enough, a field mouse scampered into view on my passenger seat, 2 feet away from my face. The whites of its beady little eyes caused a fury of rage as I realized I would have to get up and out of my warm cacoon...the worst...
I spent 20 minutes reorganizing the front seats with no mouse to be seen. I hoped he had jumped out (Also how I hoped he had got in). Then after crawling back into my sleeping bag within a few minutes it happened again. I looked up towards the shifter, and eventually the mouse ran back down through the passenger footwell up towards where the foot air vents were...that sneaky bastard...(Honestly taking my shoes ona nd off annoyed me the most)
I spent another 15-20 minutes stuffing paper towels in the various places I thought the mouse could come into the vehicle from. Then finally settled back down into bed close to 5am, over an hour of sleep lost as the sky was beginning to lighten,
Lesson: When you invade someones home, they may try to invade yours.
I love exploring. I did this growing up, usually through my experiences with Boy Scouts. But climbing the rock formation this morning made me feel alive. After, as I was driving, I stopped at a lookout and took a picture. An Asian gentleman in a Volkswagen going the opposite direction stopped as well and we exchanged brief introductions. Then he was also on the guided tour of the wind caves a couple hours later. This made me ponder about coincidences and what brings people together at different points in life, making me also consider the people I am interacting with now and what significance they will hold in my future.
I began asking a lot of questions about how they discover new things and the process of getting involved with those groups. It requires some certification, and then your resume of cave exploring gets reviewed to see if you're capable of navigating it yourself. I decided I'm going to do some research when I return about finding local chapters of the National speleological Society for cave discovery and exploration. During the summer there's a spelunking tour you can do of the wind Cave, and I may just have to return in the future to do so. Jack of all trades, master of none…
Lastly, because climbing above and below ground made me feel so free, I realized what's been happening with the mindset of my career and creativity the last few years as I was driving to my next destination. I've been following a standard career path which has led me to think in the lines of the picture that society wants us to color in. I used to thrive on coloring outside the lines (being homeschooled I think helped in that regards), thinking outside the box, not being restrained creatively...not that I can't come up with a good idea every now and then, but I definitely feel like I've developed too much association with these boxes. I need to start approaching my career and life mentality again from an "outside of the box" method, because I think that's why I've been having difficulty with my creative side the last few years. "
Out of the box, out of the box!"...
... for those who love the cardboard world created by the Nick Jr. show "Out of The Box"...