At long last, it was time to head home. We split the 12-hour drive into two days, which gave us lots of time to poke around along the way. As we started south, we stopped in Hot Springs, SD. Hot Springs has some really distinctive sandstone architecture along its main street. The area is full of natural hot springs and spas.
We didn't really have time for a soak, so we checked out Mammoth Site, which was awesome! A few years back, a developer started construction and dug up a mammoth tusk with his backhoe. Paleontologists came in to examine the site, and to date they've uncovered the bones of 60 mammoths (as well as 85 other species of animals, plants, and insects.) Mammoth Site is run as a nonprofit and volunteers come in every year to help excavate new bones. Sweet!
The rest of the ride home was ... boring. We wanted to check out the Oglala Grasslands, hoping it would be our last shot of rolling green prairie before heading back to the desert. No such luck. It was flat, gray, and bleak. Oh well. At least now I know never to move to Scottsbluff, NE!
All in all, it was a really fun vacation. It was nice to soak up some green and explore places I hadn't seen since I was a little kid. Of course adjusting back to reality is annoying (oh boy, maintenance audit!) but fall is just around corner and it's time to plan some desert-y autumn adventures. :)