Sundance, July 2005

A thunderstorm creates dramatic mammatus clouds over Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
A thunderstorm creates dramatic mammatus clouds over Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

Many years ago, Abby and her family traveled to the open rangeland of Wyoming to hunt and camp. She wanted to return and see the sites as an adult, so we decided this would be a good time to go.

• Driving to Nebraska

Abby poses at The Chubby Pickle on a roadside in Kansas.
Abby poses at The Chubby Pickle on a roadside in Kansas.

We drove from our home in Ada, Oklahoma, through Kansas into Nebraska, and on the way stopped and shot the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas, which, as Abby pointed out in a video clip from the day, “is not a haystack.” We also stopped at a place called The Chubby Pickle by the side of the road in Phillipsburg, Kansas.

Your host poses with The Chubby Pickle in Phillipsburg, Kansas.
Your host poses with The Chubby Pickle in Phillipsburg, Kansas.
This nice lady in Cawker City, Kansas, told us all about the world's largest ball of sisal twine.
This nice lady in Cawker City, Kansas, told us all about the world’s largest ball of sisal twine.
Abby smiles as she photographs Main Street in Cawker City, Kansas.
Abby smiles as she photographs Main Street in Cawker City, Kansas.
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

• Scott’s Bluff and Carhenge

We stopped by Courthouse Rock and Jailhouse Rock in Nebraska, which was interesting, but which didn’t make very many pictures. We also stopped at Chimney Rock, which was interesting from a historical perspective.

Abby makes pictures at Scott's Bluff National Monument, Nebraska.
Abby makes pictures at Scott’s Bluff National Monument, Nebraska.
A U.S. Flags waves in the breeze at Scott's Bluff National Monument.
A U.S. Flags waves in the breeze at Scott’s Bluff National Monument.
Abby made this image of the curved road leading to the top of Scott's Bluff.
Abby made this image of the curved road leading to the top of Scott’s Bluff.
The city of Scottsbluff is visible from Scott's Bluff National Monument.
The city of Scottsbluff is visible from Scott’s Bluff National Monument.
A covered wagon is commemorated at Scotts Bluff National Monument.
A covered wagon is commemorated at Scotts Bluff National Monument.
This view looks west from Scott's Bluff National Monument.
This view looks west from Scott’s Bluff National Monument.
Overview, Scott's Bluff National Monument
Overview, Scott’s Bluff National Monument

We drove and hiked at Scotts Bluff National Monument, which is a 19th-century landmark on the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail.

Carhenge was one of our most interesting stops. Exactly like it sounds, it is a replica of Stonehenge, made of grey painted cars. It was a beautiful day, and the light and sky were perfect for it.

Our second day on the road included the elaborate and fascinating Carhenge near Alliance, Nebraska.
Our second day on the road included the elaborate and fascinating Carhenge near Alliance, Nebraska.
The author approaches the vehicles at Carhenge, a replica of Stonehenge made entirely of cars.
The author approaches the vehicles at Carhenge, a replica of Stonehenge made entirely of cars.
Carhenge and Car art Reserve, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge and Car art Reserve, Alliance, Nebraska
Abby photographs Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska.
Abby photographs Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska.
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge and Car art Reserve, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge and Car art Reserve, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge and Car art Reserve, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge and Car art Reserve, Alliance, Nebraska
Abby hikes the Red Beds Trail around Devil's Tower.
Abby hikes the Red Beds Trail around Devil’s Tower.

• Devil’s Tower National Monument, Sundance, and Black Hills National Cemetery

It was a nice day, but hot. We drove to Devil’s Tower National Monument, where the Marklars were out in force. We left them behind by simply taking the first real trail around the tower, the Red Beds Trail. It was a 2.8-mile trail that took us the long way around the Tower.

Next was Sundance, Wyoming, and after visiting we named this trip “Sundance.” We saw and photographed a bronze statue of The Sundance Kid.

Abby smiles as she poses with the bronze statue of The Sundance Kid in Sundance, Wyoming.
Abby smiles as she poses with the bronze statue of The Sundance Kid in Sundance, Wyoming.
Devil's Tower, Wyoming
Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
Black Hills National Cemetery, South Dakota
Black Hills National Cemetery, South Dakota

A brief stop at Sturgis to honor Abby’s motorcycle riding history was followed by our final stop at the Black Hills National Cemetery, which was elegant, beautiful, and according to Abby, “sobering.”

Your host makes pictures at Badlands National Park.
Your host makes pictures at Badlands National Park.

• Wall Drug, Badlands, and Minuteman Missile National Historical Site

We started the day at a tourist attaction called “Wall Drug.” It was garish, crowded and enormous, but we all had fun, especially Abby.

We arrived at Badlands National Park at 10 am, and while we saw the whole thing as fascinating, the light was harsh and bland, and the scenery itself was redundant. The Badlands are epic in scope, but not as interesting as, say, the Bisti Wilderness or Angel Peak.

Abby photographs Wall Drug in South Dakota.
Abby photographs Wall Drug in South Dakota.
Abby smiles as we hike around at Badlands National Park.
Abby smiles as we hike around at Badlands National Park.
This telephoto view of Badlands National Park shows the depth of the erosions from which the park gets its name.
This telephoto view of Badlands National Park shows the depth of the erosions from which the park gets its name.
Sunshine and cloud shadows create this dramatic scene at Badlands National Park.
Sunshine and cloud shadows create this dramatic scene at Badlands National Park.
The author smiles for his wife's camera at Badlands National Park.
The author smiles for his wife’s camera at Badlands National Park.
Abby and Richard smile for a self portrait at Badlands National Park.
Abby and Richard smile for a self portrait at Badlands National Park.

By far the most interesting thing about the day was the tour of the Minuteman Missile National Historical Site. It included the tour of a launch facility, as well as a drive out into the middle of nowehere to see an actual missile in its silo.

 

A ranger gives a tour of a launch control room at Minuteman Missile Silo National Historic Site.
A ranger gives a tour of a launch control room at Minuteman Missile Silo National Historic Site.
Control Panel, Missile Silo, Minuteman Missile National Historical Site, South Dakota
Control Panel, Missile Silo, Minuteman Missile National Historical Site, South Dakota

 

Launch Control Panel, Missile Silo, Minuteman Missile National Historical Site
Launch Control Panel, Missile Silo, Minuteman Missile National Historical Site

By late afternoon we drove the length of Badlands, making a few nice images, particularly at sunset.

Abby photographs Mount Rushmore National Monument.
Abby photographs Mount Rushmore National Monument.
Mount Rushmore National Monument
Mount Rushmore National Monument

• Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Custer State Park

We made two visits to Mount Rushmore, the first in the morning. They were powerwashing the mountain. It was amazingly crowded.

Between visits we saw the Crazy Horse monument, and oddity that seems to have turned into a huge tourist affair. The monument itself is on a 100-year completion timetable.

Also, we had an excellent drive through Custer State Park.

By nightfall, we had returned to Mount Rushmore for the lighting ceremony.

Workers rappelling on lines with power washing equipment are visible in this Mount Rushmore image.
Workers rappelling on lines with power washing equipment are visible in this Mount Rushmore image.
We photographed Crazy Horse Memorial in the afternoon. In addition to the memorial, it was my impression that the entire complex had been turned into a pricy tourist attraction.
We photographed Crazy Horse Memorial in the afternoon. In addition to the memorial, it was my impression that the entire complex had been turned into a pricy tourist attraction.
This view of the Crazy Horse Memorial shows how the mountain sculpture is supposed to eventually look.
This view of the Crazy Horse Memorial shows how the mountain sculpture is supposed to eventually look.
The faces on Mount Rushmore are illuminated by deep amber light during the nighttime ceremony at the Monument.
The faces on Mount Rushmore are illuminated by deep amber light during the nighttime ceremony at the Monument.
The author hikes on the Castle trail at Badlands National Park.
The author hikes on the Castle trail at Badlands National Park.

• Ellsworth Air Force Base and Badlands

We took a tour of the South Dakota Air and Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base, which allowed us to actually go down inside a decommissioned Minuteman Missile silo.

Abby was tired, so I dropped her off at the motel and headed for Badlands, where I had a nice, decently difficult hike and made some really nice images.

Abby smiles as she posed in Abbyville, Kansas.
Abby smiles as she posed in Abbyville, Kansas.

• On the Road

We were able to see the Enchanted World Doll Museum in Mitchell, South Dakota. Later we photographed Abby in Abbyville, Kansas.

Additional images:

Scattered stones on a playa along the Castle Trail, Badlands.
Scattered stones on a playa along the Castle Trail, Badlands.
Cracked mud flats like this were common along the Saddle Pass trail at Badlands National Park.
Cracked mud flats like this were common along the Saddle Pass trail at Badlands National Park.
Pinnacle, Castle Trail, Badlands
Pinnacle, Castle Trail, Badlands
Castle Trail, Badlands
Castle Trail, Badlands
Hoodoo, Castle Trail, Badlands
Hoodoo, Castle Trail, Badlands
A classic Chevrolet sits by the side of the main road through Badlands National Park.
A classic Chevrolet sits by the side of the main road through Badlands National Park.
Strata, Door Trail, Badlands.
Strata, Door Trail, Badlands.
Pinnacles and Haze, Door Trail, Badlands
Pinnacles and Haze, Door Trail, Badlands
Peaks and Prairie, Badlands
Peaks and Prairie, Badlands
Badlands National Park strata picks up intense evening light
Badlands National Park strata picks up intense evening light
Peak at Sunset, Badlands
Peak at Sunset, Badlands
Cracks and Eroded Soil, Badlands, Sunset from the Pinnacles Overlook
Cracks and Eroded Soil, Badlands, Sunset from the Pinnacles Overlook
Badlands National Park sunset is seen from the Pinnacles Overlook.
Badlands National Park sunset is seen from the Pinnacles Overlook.
Black Hills National Cemetery, South Dakota
Black Hills National Cemetery, South Dakota
Black Hills National Cemetery, South Dakota
Black Hills National Cemetery, South Dakota
Black Hills National Cemetery, South Dakota
Black Hills National Cemetery, South Dakota
Abby makes picture at the Black Hills National Cemetery.
Abby makes picture at the Black Hills National Cemetery.
This welcome sign greets visitors to Sundance, Wyoming.
This welcome sign greets visitors to Sundance, Wyoming.
Devils Tower, Wyoming, Viewed from the Red Beds Trail
Devils Tower, Wyoming, Viewed from the Red Beds Trail
Devils Tower, Wyoming, Viewed from the Red Beds Trail
Devils Tower, Wyoming, Viewed from the Red Beds Trail
We spotted this handsome Standard Oil sign in Nebraska
We spotted this handsome Standard Oil sign in Nebraska
Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, South Dakota
Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, South Dakota
Rockwell B-1 Lancer on Display, Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, South Dakota
Rockwell B-1 Lancer on Display, Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, South Dakota
Overview of Launch Control Unit, Minuteman Missile National Historical Site
Overview of Launch Control Unit, Minuteman Missile National Historical Site
Missile in Silo, Minuteman Missile National Historical Site
Missile in Silo, Minuteman Missile National Historical Site
Needles Highway, Custer State Park, South Dakota
Needles Highway, Custer State Park, South Dakota
A Custer State Park employee told us about some wild donkeys in the park, and Abby was able to coax them close enough for them to eat out of her hand.
A Custer State Park employee told us about some wild donkeys in the park, and Abby was able to coax them close enough for them to eat out of her hand.
"Eye of the Needle," Needles Highway, Custer State Park, South Dakota
“Eye of the Needle,” Needles Highway, Custer State Park, South Dakota
The author walks through "The Keyhole," a tunnel on the Needles Highway in Custer State Park, South Dakota.
The author walks through “The Keyhole,” a tunnel on the Needles Highway in Custer State Park, South Dakota.
Custer State Park, South Dakota, is noted for its wildlife, like this pronghorn.
Custer State Park, South Dakota, is noted for its wildlife, like this pronghorn.
Also in Cister State Park, we spotted this young deer.
Also in Custer State Park, we spotted this young deer.
Sunset, Needles Highway, Custer State Park
Sunset, Needles Highway, Custer State Park
Abby poses with a giant prairie dog.
Abby poses with a giant prairie dog.
Railroad Crossing, Stop Sign and Abandoned Farm, Nebraska
Railroad Crossing, Stop Sign and Abandoned Farm, Nebraska
Worker with Power Washer, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
Worker with Power Washer, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
Workers with Power Washers, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
Workers with Power Washers, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
Workers with Power Washers, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
Workers with Power Washers, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
The flags of all 50 U. S. States, including ours, Oklahoma, are displayed at Mount Rushmore.
The flags of all 50 U. S. States, including ours, Oklahoma, are displayed at Mount Rushmore.
Promenade, Mount Rushmore National Monument
Promenade, Mount Rushmore National Monument
Developing Thunderstorm, Custer State Park
Developing Thunderstorm, Custer State Park
A thunderstorm billows over Badlands National Park.
A thunderstorm billows over Badlands National Park.
Thunderstorm at Sunset, Near Mount Rushmore
Thunderstorm at Sunset, Near Mount Rushmore
Abby smiles at me as she photographs a chipmunk at Custer State Park.
Abby smiles at me as she photographs a chipmunk at Custer State Park.
Evening light catches the erosions of Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
Evening light catches the erosions of Badlands National Park, South Dakota.