I just needed to pick up some soy milk. That’s all. But a few minutes of talking to Breadroot Natural Food Co-op‘s volunteer cashier of the day (I didn’t get her name, will have to call back to thank her) and my day’s plans shifted. (She also suggested that my trip was a walkabout. I liked that.) Instead of a quick trip from Rapid City to Bear Butte (a bit of Counter Intelligence gleaned from the lovely women at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls–more on that later), Devils Tower in Wyoming was now part of the day. I had no plans to go to Wyoming but…so be it. That’s one of the benefits of long-term travel around the U.S.: you can add a monument here, a state there.
After stopping at Bear Butte just outside of Sturgis, SD (more on that later, too), it was just 89 miles along highways 90 and 14 to Devils Tower. One evening’s look wasn’t enough. I ended up staying two nights in Hulett, Wyoming, nine miles away. On my return visit to the monument–the nation’s first national monument, thanks to Theodore Roosevelt–I hiked around the 1.3 mile trail at the base of Devils Tower. (If you’re not a hiker, don’t be put off by the term “trail.” The whole thing is paved. Just put on some sneakers and you’ll be good to go.) Signs at the start say the trail should take about 45 minutes. If you enjoy taking photos, leave at least three hours for it. Really.
Back home in NYC, I love seeing how the look of buildings shift as you walk down a street. Devils Tower has them all beat: it’s the ultimate shapeshifter. Walk three steps and it’s a whole new land formation.
One day I hope to speak to a member of the Lakota people about Devils Tower. It’s a sacred site for them. I want to understand more about it. There’s a power to the place. The air is better there. It’s peaceful. It demands that you slow down.
The following photos were shot on May 9, 2012 from 4 pm to 7 pm.