I've logged a lot of miles this past week! We made a trip to South Dakota to attend a memorial for my Dad's sister, my Aunt Jean who passed away earlier this summer. It was so lovely to spend time with the family! Shown above are the remaining siblings, my Dad, my Aunt Mary and my Uncle David.
My Uncle Fred ~ husband to my Aunt Jean. He's worn a beret ever since he and Aunt Jean returned from their time in Africa in the late 70's or early 80's!
The family gathered in Wall, South Dakota, a small town on the western prairie known primarily for Wall Drug, home of free ice water for the weary traveler and 5 cent coffee as well as it's proximity to the Badlands. All of these towns have grain elevators and to me they are the iconic images of the towns on the western plains.
Another icon of Wall Drug is this dinosaur on the east side of town. Had to get my parents into the picture!
In Wall Drug, I always get a kick out of the Jackalopes! I've heard many a tall tale about them over the years! If you look at my flickr photo stream, there are other fun bits of taxidermy to view from Wall Drug.
One evening, my cousin Jackie and I headed out to the Badlands to capture the sunset. The colors of a prairie sunset, even in a clear sky, are blazing with color and breathtakingly beautiful.
The pinnacles of the badlands pick up the evening light. So lovely.
On our way back to Colorado, we detoured north to Devils Tower National Monument in northern Wyoming. What a shame that it is called Devils Tower due to a translation error in the 1800's and not something closer to the original name, Bear Lodge, given by the the Kiowa who lived here in the past. Regardless, it's a stunning sight to see, rising above the hills and fields surrounding it.
Across eastern Wyoming, the vistas are immense. At the National Grassland Visitor Center in Wall, SD, we saw a quote that summed up just how I feel about these vast spaces.
Anyone can love the mountains
but it takes soul to love the prairie.
North of Lusk we came upon this herd of pronghorn (aka antelope) grazing by the road. They watched us for a moment and then lept away across the hillside, flashing their white bottoms.
In Wyoming we saw another gorgeous prairie sunset!
Stormy cool weather followed us all the way from Wyoming into Colorado. The next day, there was snow on the peaks!
Leaving for "home" gets harder and harder each time. To make the journey more pleasant, I made many stops along the way to visit sites that I'd seen signs for but never stopped at previously. One of these was the Ludlow Massacre Memorial. 63 men, women and children were killed by the militia during a mine strike here in 1914. Outrage over this attrocity was one of the things that eventually led to nationwide reform in mine safety and improvements in wages and housing for miners. I found the monument to be quite touching, even more so as my Granddad was a coal miner in West Virginia in the 20's and 30's.
Nearby the Ludlow monument, there are many abandoned buildings including these old school houses. I love the aqua shutters on them! It seemed to be a day for taking pictures of old abandoned buildings. I took many that I hope to share at a later date.
Heading south on I-25, the Spanish Peaks stand high above the surrounding lands. With their fresh snowcaps, they were quite stunning in the clear morning light! I'm convinced that the powers that be, looked for the best view before placing telephone and power poles. They always seem to be in the way of the best views!
One of my stops was at Capulin Volcano National Monument in northern New Mexico. It is similar to the cinder volcanoes around Flagstaff, but you can drive to the top of this one and hike around the caldera! Just as I reached the top, a cold and windy snow squall blew in and grouple (little snowball like snow) came down hard! I decided not to walk the trail but did enjoy the view into the caldera from the little shelter there.
The views from the top of Capulin provide stunning vistas across the high plains and mesas of New Mexico! They say that on a clear day you can see four states from here; Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas!
Near Wagon Mound, I stopped at another abandoned farm for this shot. The windmill still pumping away while pidgeons roost on the chimney!
I'd hoped to visit Fort Union National Monument on the Santa Fe Trail, but arrived too late in the day. Sweeping views of the the Fort Union Ranch were gorgeous though!
Now my travels are over for a little while. Autumn is in the air and the leaves are changing. There are so many handwork projects I want to work on and things to share! I'm looking forward to settling in for a while and having time to create. Meanwhile, my sister and her hubby have bought a new house and will be moving soon and my parents are hoping to sell their home and move soon as well, so it may turn out to be quite a busy autumn season!