All 50 States Day 50:
Though I went through the states alphabetically, Wyoming is a pretty good closer, especially since my pictures from the state come entirely from Yellowstone and Devils Tower. I’ve only played two shows in the state, at a community college in Sheridan in the late 90s, and at the University of Wyoming in Laramie in 2007. My visit to Yellowstone was in 2003 when I was in Bozeman for a summer orientation show at Montana State. I flew in a couple of days early and the orientation director and I took a trip to Yellowstone, a weekend that included the first day of summer when it of course snowed.
My first time through the state came in ’95, before a show at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota, a town so far west it’s only 12 miles shy of the Wyoming border. On my trusty Rand McNally Road Atlas I could see that Devils Tower, in the northeast corner of Wyoming, was only an hour away and that I had time before my show to make the round trip. This is the trip that included my Most Epic Roll of Film Ever, which featured prominently in my South Dakota post, and the shots from Devil’s Tower practically earn that title on their own. It was a good day to have a roll of black and white film loaded into my Pentax K-1000.
Devils Tower, the mountain where the Close Encounters alien encounter is set, is a fascinating formation that’s the remnant of an ancient volcano core. You can see it from a dozen miles away, rising out of the flat landscape like a monument to the universe. Even before you get on the grounds of the National Monument you understand why it inspired legends in several Native American cultures. When you see it up close the giant granite columns look like pipe organs, or the fossilized remnants of an ancient machine.
On the other side of the state, the Yellowstone trip was also brief, only one night. That’s definitely not enough time to see a lot of the park, but I got to hit some of the big spots like Old Faithful and the edge of Golden Gate Canyon. I also saw a ton of wildlife like buffalo, elk, foxes, bear and more.
Both Devil’s Tower and Yellowstone are worthy bucket list entries. If you’re ever traveling through western South Dakota and think you want to stop at Mt. Rushmore outside of Rapid City, skip it and drive the extra hours to Devils Tower. It’s far more awe-inspiring than some heads carved into granite. And if you get to Yellowstone, give yourself a few days to see as much as you can.
So that’s a wrap on 50 states in 50 days! New York City is still shut down for at least a few more days, probably longer so I guess I’ll have to find some other project to pass the time. U.S. territories? I think I’ve only hit Puerto Rico and St. Thomas so far. Canadian provinces? I’m only 6 of 10 and none of the territories. Can’t wait to get back out there and add to the list!
- Devils Tower, close, 1995
- Selfie in Yellowstone on a snowy first day of summer, 2003
- Old Faithful, 2003
- National Park sign near Golden Gate Canyon, 2003
- Buffalo in Yellowstone, 2003
- Elk in Yellowstone, 2003
- Devils Tower from miles away, 1995