Devils Tower at sunset
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. [click to continue…]
The photos (shot May 1-4) tell a small part of the story. To just barely start to really see South Dakota’s Badlands–a massive unimaginable otherworldy place–requires days of driving, hiking, and just looking. The first day is all jaw drop. After that, it’s still all jaw drop but you start to recognize the Badlands’ massive formations, you remember to look down to see bees in the wildflowers, you watch for dramatic battles between the bighorns, and remember to stand still long enough to see how the sun upends the landscape’s colors. Oh, there are rabbits, too. How long would it take to fully understand the Badlands? That may not be possible.
The motorcycles passed by as I was stopped for yet another photo session on the Needles Highway in Custer State Park. Both bikes were, let’s call them, sizable. The rust-colored bike was even towing a trailer. When I looped around the hairpin turn at Cathedral Spires and pulled into one of the spaces near the trailhead, the bikes were there. There were a few other cars so I started to play one of my new favorite games: match the people in the area with the vehicles in the lot. After going a short way down the trail to snap a few photos, I hurried back to see the vehicles and their owners match up.
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One of Custer State Park’s wild burros (just before he tried to stick his head into the car) and artist Gary Underwood’s fully domesticated pack mule in Hill City, South Dakota.
My grandfather, Sidney Friedfertig, was a talker. By the end of every restaurant meal or every stop at a store, he knew at least something, if not everything, about the waiter or store clerk. I’ll admit that as a kid I didn’t appreciate this quality in him. I found it embarrassing. Turns out I’m my grandfather’s granddaughter. Buying an iced tea is never a quick interaction. Filling the car usually leads to my finding out about the gas station attendant’s favorite place to go in the off-season. But I don’t hoard people, I want you to get the chance to know them, too. And, perhaps, you’ll consider stopping in to visit them when you take your own drive, short or long. Here, the start of an ongoing series: People Along the Way.
Leesha may be one of the most powerful people you'll ever meet: part of her job at Dubuque's National Mississippi River Museum calls for her to reshape the Mississippi. Ok, a model of the Mississippi. She carves the river's curves into sand made from recycled plastic bottles. Leesha is, quite simply, one of the most joyful people you'll ever come across.
A visit to the Corn Palace is something. A visit to the Corn Palace when the Shrine Circus is in town is something else.
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Most of the parking lots sat empty. Spring and summer travelers haven’t started pulling in yet. The park, for now, belongs to the locals. As always, the Falls and the Monarch of the Plains were waiting for them. Today there was also a game of leap frog.
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