The Wyoming Steppe and Sundance

Because I am pressed for time, I decided to split last week’s trip report into two posts, with the first half dealing with the “going there” part.

“What trip is he talking about?”

“Did they go somewhere?”

“Who are you, and why should I care?”

All good questions.  Let me take them in order.  Last week we went on a driving trip precipitated by me reading the article Visiting the Bear’s House.  I gave a quick preview of it while on the road (if you missed it, click HERE, or just keep reading).

As to who we are, and why you should care . . . I don’t know.  I mean, I know who we are, but don’t know why you should care.  I assumed since you came to read this, you knew.

Anyway, we modified the suggested route a bit, incorporating the detour mentioned for the return trip into our getting there portion.

03-16-20_Wyoming Steppe and Sundance

That little jog through Hot Springs and Custer, South Dakota, was not worth-while.  I mean, it would have been had we planned to spend some time in the places mentioned, but as a drive-through, it was a bust.  Sure, I took a couple of pictures, but the nearly two hours of travel time it added to the trip to Spearfish was not worth it.  It would not have been worth it on the way back, either.

But let me step back a bit . . . we left home around 10:30am, and made our way to the Aurora (CO) Costco.  “Why?” you ask.  Well, we needed gas and food . . . and I looked at bicycles.  We bought sandwiches, salad, sliced vegetables, a fruit platter, and sliced apples.  Other than a small amount of the sliced vegetables, none of those survived the trip home.

We left Costco at noon heading North, driving through the annoying mass of humanity that calls itself Denver.  Normally we would take e-470, a toll road that circumvents this Denver place, but that adds to the drive time, and we were already running late (we wanted to avoid driving at night).

We made our way through Denver, passed Fort Collins, and continued North toward Wyoming.

There is something that happens to me when I cross into Wyoming.  My spirit lifts (well . . . I don’t have a spirit; more like my mind tells me to be a little happier), I relax, my breathing slows, and my blood pressure gets down to normal.  Wyoming, you see, has more cows than people . . . and cows don’t drive.

See!!  Cows . . . not driving.

Just past Cheyenne, we veered East, getting onto US- 85, and . . . emptiness.

I differ from most people, and even from my wife insomuch that when I look at vast open expanses with nary a sign of human presence, my first thought is “I could live here.  I could be happy here“.

What I wish my front, back, and side yard would look like.

Heck, I would not even mind some of them cows as neighbors.

The far end of that ridge looks perfect for a walled compound, complete with gun turrets and guard wolves.

Any one of them hills would make a perfectly good base for my Fortress of Isolation

The neighbors are a little smelly, but they are quiet, plus they be good eating in an emergency.  More than I can say about my current neighbors.

As my mind wandered and swam in endorphins-induced bliss, Melisa brought me back to the present  . . .  “Antelopes!”  I mean, we’d seen a bunch of them, usually grazing in the distance, but these were lying down not fifty yards from the edge of the road.

I stood on the brakes, and pulled over.  I’m sure had there been any other car within a mile of me, they might have been concerned at my sudden maneuver.  As it was, only Melisa witnessed my cat-like reflexes which, coupled with enormous mastery and control of our Tahoe, brought us to a halt nearly parallel to the Antelopes.  As it often does when I drive it, the Tahoe must have thought “WHAT NOW?!?” even as it obediently complied with my wishes.

The Antelopes were just as quick in jumping up and taking flight.

These things were a hundred yards away before I could bring my big lens to bear, seeking to freeze them in time.  I could almost hear Flock of Seagulls . . . “And they ran, they ran so far away”.  (Yes, I know I changed the lyrics).

. . . and they ran . . .

 . . . and ran . . .

 . . . and kept running . . .

I thought their reaction was a tad disproportionate to the threat I posed.  We’re talking multiple football fields in distance here, and this without me making any effort to give chase.  

I watched them run . . . and turned back toward the car.  On the way I saw an interesting dried flower (or something), and I took the shot.

I went all "Sarah-takes-pictures" on the thing

So, I’m back in my car, getting up to speed, when I notice the herd had stopped. . . . 

Apparently a half a mile is safe enough a distance from a balding old man with a camera.

Since I was not quite up to speed, I pull over again, and grabbed the camera . . . .  

. . . and they took off again!

Lesson learned: Antelopes are not partial to old men with cameras.

By the way; astute observers might notice wide variations in the brightness and tone of the pictures.  This cloud, you see, was playing defense on the sunlight.  Or maybe the sun was playing hide-and-seek.  Whatever the case, many of the shots were in the shade; a crappy kind of shade that washed out everything into blaahness.

Eventually we got to our turn-off at RT-18.  As I said above, I could have done without this leg of the trip, but I did get some nice photos.  For instance, these Antelopes were running alongside the road as I caught up with them.

They gave a half-hearted shot at scattering . . .

. . . but this guy kept them lined up along the road.

. . . and gave me multiple shooting opportunities.

Eventually they slowed down, and one of them gave me the "Wait! It's just a balding old man with a camera!" look.

In Custer State Park proper we did have a couple more shooting opportunities.  When I say “we”, I mean “me”.

Buffalo . . . wild buffalo.  There are no fences, and there are warning of the possibility of backups resulting from Buffalo on the road.

The thing is, I can’t really imagine backups here.  We did not pass any cars, and only a couple of cars passed us up while I stopped to take pictures.

Imagine, for a moment, what it must have been like to see hills after hills covered by these guys grazing, or see hundreds of them galloping up and down the grass-covered hills.

Eventually we got onto US-14 (could have taken it to Yellowstone if we wanted, and if Yellowstone had been open).  There I had another photo opportunity.  A burned-out hill.

By now the sun was going down.  Very difficult shooting, but I got a couple of decent pictures.

As usual, these look better on the SmugMug album

This lent itself to a B&W treatment

Because of this little detour, we ended up in Spearfish (SD) well after sundown.  The worry, you see, with driving after sundown is hitting a deer.  Luckily, with no other cars on the road, I was running with my brights on.  Unlike my previous GM cars, the Tahoe has fairly decent brights.    We unloaded, ate, and that was the end of the first day . . . 

Bright and early the next day (8:00 o’clock, or so) we embarked onto our second leg of the trip.


From Spearfish we head back toward Sundance.  There sat a statue I wanted to photograph.

Who could this guy be?!?

. . . ah . . . it's Robert Redford.

Funny, it does not look like Redford.

I took a number of photos, and they can be found . . . where else, the SmugMug album associated with this post. Click on any photo to go there.

Redford's forearm and boot.

Sundance is small, but interesting.  I did not take many picture of the town.  I did take a picture of the sidewalk next to the statue . . . 

The cement is imprinted with the pattern of an old-time wooden sidewalk.

I did not notice it until Melisa pointed it out.  It looks reasonably realistic.

There is also a bank . . . 

I was too lazy to walk all the way up to it and take a picture without the stop sign.

A totem pole . . . 

Still on the sidewalk by the statue, looking across the street.

Don’t know enough about Totem Poles to know if this one came directly from Poland or not.

The last picture is that of the bar . . . also across the street from the sidewalk by the statue.

An interesting sign . . . not really, but since I was there, I figure I'd snap a shot of it.

And that was Sundance, Wyoming.

The next stop is Devil’s Tower, but I’m saving that for the next post.  

As always, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for reading my stuff.


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