>Travel Pictures


A trip out west

With family in both Minnesota and Montana, a yearly rite of passage for us is to travel out along the highways and byways to explore the west. Bits and pieces of cultural history are scattered along the way, and it is usually pretty exciting to get a glimpse of our country's past, present, and future.

 Highway stops

The Corn Palace in Mitchell is one of the first stops you come across as you head west. Inside is a basketball court, but outside is a decorator's dream (or nightmare). Every year, corn is collected from the fields in the area to make huge murals and pictures. That's right, everything you see in these pictures is created with corn. That's how it gets its name (for anyone who needed that hint).

A couple of the stops along I-80 bring the past to life. One of these is the 1880s town "Where Dances with Wolves was Filmed" as they say in their advertisements. While we've never paid the $10 admission price to actually walk among the buildings, the sights from outside are pretty neat too.

One can see everything from an enormous cow head to a herd of wild horses (not to mention the carved eagle sitting out front of the complex)


Of course the big granddaddy of these stops is Wall Drug in South Dakota. Originally founded as a travelers' welcome to the Badlands, it has blossomed into a destination in and of itself.

There, one can get everything from the free ice water to buffalo burgers to the latest in western wear...

and a ride on a jackelope!!

The Badlands

Just past Wall Drug are the Badlands. I've discovered a nice (not super pretty, but very handy) free campground outside Wall where I've stopped a couple times. It is a convenient place to stay and offers good access to the road around the area - very useful to see some of the sights without actually going into the park itself.

In the early summer, the colors of the rocks against the green of the still-watered grasses makes for a stunning combination. 

While there are obviously some people who have tough stories to tell - 

and some who are still telling those stories - 

for the most part the landscape is given over to the animals.

Devil's Tower

In the northeast corner of Wyoming stands Devil's Tower. Revered by the Indians and noted by Lewis and Clark, it was immortalized in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
I think that the speculation is that it is the magma center of an ancient volcano. The rock on the outside has long since worn away, and just the center remains, sticking straight up into the blue sky. It reminded me of another promontory in the area that is now called Chimney Rock (although Alea thought it was pretty funny when she found out how the Native Americans referred to it. Obviously they didn't have chimneys, so they named it after what they saw in their area and called it "Antelope Penis").

Little Bighorn Battlefield

The site - formerly called Custer's Last Stand - is located about an hour or so south of Billings. It is the site where the George Custer and the 7th Cavalry were completely destroyed by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians on June 25th, 1876, and is today a national monument.
The headstones and memorials (to both soldiers and Indians alike) are scattered across the rolling hills.

and cutout figures stand as a mute reenactment to the events of that day.


We've been to several live rendezvous reenactments, where people dress up in period costumes and pretend to live as their ancestors did.
They live in authentic shelters from the times, including lean tos, cabins, and even the occasional teepee.

End of the road

Our new property in Rimini - just outside of Helena - is near Lincoln, where the Unabomber shacked up. For us, though, the highlight is the Lincoln rodeo. The small town atmosphere is fantastic, and the spirit of the competitors lets us know that we are at home again, at least until the end of the summer.

These are collected from a number of trips. Check out one of them here.

back to the USA page...
To the Stutz's Welcome Page