Left FL early in May with a dear friend who is looking forward to new travel experiences, seeing the west and making new friends. Little did we expect the weather we encountered. We made excellent time covering a lot of ground every day. Thursday we left Childress, TX, heading to Amarillo and then NM. The driving was about the worst I’ve encountered, veyr low clouds made visibility about 0. Then we hit hard rain and strong winds. Finally it got really ugly with thunder and lightning. We were very glad we got through it safely and when we did. I managed to get a photo as we were approaching Amarillo, finally a tiny bit of blue sky.
Light at the end of the tunnel. Approaching Amarillo after a nasty drive.
Once into Amarillo and then past it the weather was clear. The wild flowers at one rest area were very colorful.
We made it to Santa Fe and found sites in a NFS campground just north of town. Santa Fe is undoubtedly a lovely town but to us it was a place with heavy traffic and more stop lights than we’d ever encountered. We explored north of town, and took some interesting drives. The overpasses and underpasses on the main road north were all decorated with different themes, some obviously Indian and some more western.
North of Santa Fe the overpasses were all decorated with different themes.
Weather in Santa Fe was extreme, lovely Friday but a brisk wind, then Saturday turned very cold, 30s with strong cold winds. On the way back to the campground it snowed quite a bit, fortunately it didn’t stick very long. Then the sun came out a bit as the clouds blew by.
Mother’s Day it was 32 when we drove out of the campground and headed to Utah. Bluff, UT, tonight, 65 as we had hamburgers on the grill. Very nice!
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Finally got a pretty clear night, with actual darkness, in Jasper so I went out to see if I could see the Milky Way. Jasper is recognized for its dark night sky and I can understand why. First place I went was right off a major highway and busy late at night, second place was much quieter but more clouds were moving in. Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. I also went to Maligne Canyon and got a nice image of one of the large waterfalls there.
I left Jasper Thursday in the rain and it was a pretty wet drive with very low clouds all day and on Friday, too. Just south of Banff I got on Rt. 40, through the Kanananskis Valley, what a good road. What I could see of the countryside was lovely despite the low clouds and I know it would be really delightful in god weather. At Longivew I took 22 south, called the Cowboy Trail, to Pincher Creek. Another great road, through rolling hills, wide open spaces with cattle ranches, hayfields, very different from the mountains and glaciers!
Got into Glacier NP mid-day on Friday, overcast, wet and cold and it hasn’t let up any. I’m hoping for a break in the weather since the scenery here is spectacular but hard to see with the low clouds. Did get out to Many Glacier and watched a grizzly 1/2 way up a mountain with my binoculars.
Rolling hills in South Dakota
Crossing SD into Montana it was rolling hills country, some stock, usually Black Angus beef, and pasture with some cultivated land. Once I got into Montana I decided to take a couple of “back roads” which took me through farmland and up closer to the ranches and small towns than staying on the interstate highway would have. The roads were in excellent condition, straight and with speed limits of 70 I could easily maintain the 62 mph that I would have done on the interstate.
Interesting building in Lavinia, MT/
Would be really interesting to know the history of this building. I passed some very picturesque old barns but there wasn’t any way I could pull over and take photos.
On up into the hilly part of MT and then down into the prairie. I stayed at the Cracker Barrel in Billings, MT, after getting some last minute items at the Walmart in town. This morning, June 3, I was up and on the road early. Made such good time I crossed into Canada and was able to get a spot in a nice community campground for the night 2 hours north of the border. Border crossing was fast and easy, I think the man asked me 6 questions, most of which were answered with “no” and I was waived on.
I noticed once I got north of Billings the grain elevators were much different than the ones I’ve seen south of there, maybe because of the different grains stored?
Grain Elevators near Shelby, MT
Will be heading up to Banff NP on Wednesday. Weather has been a variety of rain, sun, cold, wind. Hoping for some nice weather now.
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The adventure has begun. I decided to stop at Badlands NP on the way to Alaska. Back in 2012 I visited here for a few days and since I’ve started doing night photography I thought this area would provide some impressive foregrounds for the Milky Way. Unfortunately Mother Nature isn’t up on the game plan. The last 2 nights were cloudy, so I made the best of it and got some nice images of lightning over the area.
At Pinnacles Overlook
Storm clouds and lightning over the Badlands.
There has been some sunshine and the Big Horn sheep have been in their usual location so I tried using my new-to-me telephoto and am pleased with the results. The young ones are fun to watch as they romp around. They romp with abandon for a while then crash and sleep.They’re also very curious and at one point got so close I couldn’t focus the lens, right about then one of the ewes came along and shooed them away.
A visit to the area isn’t complete unless you stop by Wall Drug in Wall, SD. It may have started out as one store but it has expanded over the years, now occupying many square feet, and carrying a large variety of items. As much fun as shopping is looking at the many displays.
Very intricate stained glass window above one of the entrances to Wall Drug.
Patience paid off and Sunday night I was able to photograph the Milky Way over some of the peaks in the park.
Milky Way over the Badlands, after moon set
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Arrived at Riverside Oasis RV park in Moab Sunday May 5 in the afternoon. Got settled in and took a quick drive to Arches NP, just a couple of miles up the road. Mostly went to get a map and a bit of a feel for the layout. The drive, views, buttes and bridges are spectacular. Monday morning I was in the park shortly after 8 am to take a few photos but it was very cloudy so I didn’t stay long. In the evening, after a cold mid day rain I headed back into the park. Got a few shots with evening light and watched as a storm moved in. I decided to stay where I was and wait out the storm, glad I did because it made for some nice photos.
Balanced Rock with storm clouds moving in
Turret Arch in the rain
Balanced Rock, after the storm
Tuesday morning I left the rv park at 0630 to get some more early shots, good thing I did. The clear sky and clouds made for some great shots but I could see clouds moving in yet again. Temps were in the high 40s with a wind and I hadn’t prepared for that so I left.
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