Friday, September 2, 2011

How the West was Won, Part Two

You can find Part One here.

We woke up on day three to grey skies and slug bellied clouds that cast shadows and low lights all over the valley leading into the Badlands.  We loaded up the dogs and headed over to Wall Drug.  

If you've never been to this area of South Dakota then you might not be familiar with Wall Drug.  It's a Roadside Attraction that has grown into a town called Wall, or maybe the town came first... it's hard to tell.   The main street of downtown is fashioned after an outlaw city complete with painted statues of cowboys and 'pardner's, very odd window dressings, and plenty of skulls and hides.  If you've been to South of the Border in South Carolina it's pretty close to the same thing...
A big tourist trap.  

Lunch was lacking, people were clearly 'on vacation', and the chachkies they sell in every store lost our interest pretty quickly.  And we knew what awaited us being that we had both been to the Badlands before.  The skies didn't look like they were clearing up any time soon, so I took some time to adjust my settings and am proud that all of these photo's are SOOC (straight out of camera) except for a couple of them where I slightly adjusted the exposure.  That goes for Part One too.

The Badlands contain so many fossils that they can't even keep a count.  Rhino's used to roam here and saber-tooth cats.  We saw bison, bighorn sheep, deer, antelope, prairie dogs and tons of birds.  The plant life was so diverse and ever changing that if we didn't stop when we saw something cool, it might not ever be seen again in the park. 
And life was good.

The Roadside Bouquet kept growing and growing and the skies started spreading into rippled sheets of white ocean spray and memories.  As we drove through the almost 250,000 acre park, we couldn't help but stop just about every minute to take more pictures.  This place is beautiful and expansive and humbling.  It's green and red, dry and wet, rocky and grassy.  It's a beautiful balance of natures finest work.  And life was good.

It was dinner time by the time we drove out of the park and headed west towards the Black Hills.  Named so for the dense, thick, dark pine trees that cover the hills and make them look black even from miles away.  There are so many expansive fields with great farm houses and old cars littering the roadsides.  The skies were absolutely amazing and made me remember how many diverse shooting options there are.  By adjusting my ISO and Shutter Speed i could really capture the depth of the clouds.  And then all of sudden, they started to spread out and stretch thin and give way to bluer skies.

Day three was beautiful in so many ways... even though the weather was grey.  We decided to drive through the black hills during dusk and the blue hour and then continue on into Wyoming and get as close to Yellowstone as possible.

We had all of our camping gear with us and were so glad we did, because when we pulled into Cody, Wyoming every hotel was full.  Hmm.. so odd for a such a small town in mid August in little Cody, Wyoming.  But we found a camp ground that had a site available and had the tent up, the dogs walked and fed, and the bed made in no time flat. We lied awake and talked about what a nice trip this was shaping up to be and how much more of it we still had to go and how time flies when you're having fun.  We talked about how three dogs and the two of us in a tent might be crazy to some folks, but it was working just fine for us and we knew they would all end up on the air mattress by morning anyway.
And life was good.



  1. WOW great photos SJ I love this trip!!! These places look familiar though I have not been.


  2. Isn't it funny how that works!

    "Til things we've never seen seem familiar."



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