A Time to Love

Custer, SD-5979

After leaving the Badlands, Dan and I (along with Tindra) spent the next few days in and around Custer, SD.  This was Tindra’s last trip with us and we were so grateful that we had this time with her. The magical views of the Black Hills National Forest never do get old.  The Black Hills get their name from the Lakota Sioux, “Paha Sapa”, meaning the hills are black. From a distance, the hills of this area do appear black due to the towering Ponderosa Pine forest; however, up close, these forests are teeming with color.

Needles Highway is another favorite of mine. Completed in 1922, the highway is named after the needle-like granite rock formations that were carved over many years by erosion.  Such beauty is found in this area and surprises are noticed around every turn.

We camped out for the week, but decided to move into a log cabin when a snow storm hit the area leaving 3-4” of the fluffy white stuff.  The snow blanketed the Pines in the Black Hills creating a peacefulness that I will never forget…  A Time to Love.

Badlands National Park, SD

Badlands SD-3351

Badlands National Park: The Lakota named this land “Mako Sica”, meaning “land bad”;

Badlands National Park

The park consists of roughly 244,000 acres of prairie grass mixed with sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires.  Looking out over the sometimes lunar landscape, it is desolation at its best… You can look for miles and see no sign of civilization.  Despite the solitude, the land has been so ravaged by the elements it has become quite stunning. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash). These striking geologic deposits also contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds; prehistoric bones are still being uncovered today by park officials.

I cannot even tell you how many times Dan and I drove the 30-mile Badlands Loop, how many times we stopped to hike the trails to absorb the surrounding beauty, or view the abundance of wildlife that roam the park’s boundaries. We stayed in the area for 2 days and with each entrance into Badlands National Park, we encountered something new and exciting.

If ever in the area, stop in at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center situated near Cedar Pass Lodge to learn more about what the park has to offer.

October Surprise


Watching the leaves float on the wind as they drop one by one to the ground and viewing the beautiful colors that dot the landscape, is just a couple reasons why Autumn is one of my favorite seasons in Minnesota.  It was a beautiful Fall day that pulled us both outside; breathing in the crisp cool air that this season brings is what we both needed. The vibrant colors, the personality of “Mr. Ed”, and the travels to and from Minneapolis was just another day to add in the banks of my mind. Take a journey with us as we show you some highlights of the day.

E.T. Phone Home


About 60 miles east of downtown St. Paul, MN lies a small rural town named Elmwood, WI.  Dan and I have traveled through this small town many times on our photography excursions. As with any small town, there is some story that surrounds the town history.  Elmwood, WI has its own special history and it has to deal with little green men and shiny round discs. The town is the home of several reported UFO sightings since the 1970s and embraces its otherworldly connection. In 1978, the town started celebrating UFO days; at that same time, the UFO sightings stopped.  The annual celebration includes food and beer tents, a UFO medallion hunt, and a parade.  For more information surrounding the UFO sightings in the 1970s, please visit UFO Evidence.  As always, in Elmwood, WI all are welcome (human and aliens alike).

Please enjoy the images from in and around this small rural community.

Southwestern MN

Hiawatha Pageant grounds-5884

Charles Bennett and Daniel Sweet founded Pipestone, MN in 1876.  By 1890, Pipestone had train service on four different rail lines and had become a travel and business center hub for southwestern Minnesota.  A lot of the buildings within the city are constructed with local Sioux quartzite. The county courthouse, built in 1899, is made from this stone and is considered the most stylized of the quartzite buildings located in the city. It is rectangular in shape with a 110-ft clock tower topped with a dome and a statue of Lady Justice.

Pipestone county courthouseHistoric American Buildings Survey, HABS MINN,59-PISTO,1-E-1

Another building constructed with the Sioux quartzite stone is Moore Block which was built in 1896.  This 25 foot by 85 foot building was built by Leon H. Moore, a local businessman who owned and operated a Sioux quartzite quarry. One of the more distinctive features of this building are the gargoyles that embellish the north and west facades.
Pipestone MN-5931Within the grounds of the Hiawatha Pageant, the”Song of the Hiawatha” was performed for the last time in 2008 due to the lack of volunteers, funding, and attendance. For 60 years, busloads of tourists were brought to this small town in Southwest MN.

Hiawatha Pageant grounds-5737

After exploring Pipestone, we decided to make our way to Blue mounds State Park. It was a gorgeous, although hot day when we decided to venture out on the hiking trails.  Usually, before visiting a park, we do our research and know the terrain so we are prepared for what comes our way.  This day, we were not prepared and unknown to us, we were about to embark on a 13 mile hike.  Not a problem, but when you are not dressed or prepared for the occasion, it can become difficult.  I remember falling many times due to the slippery shoes I had on my feet, at one point in time- right in a small stream.  Saving my camera came first so my body took the brunt of the fall.  I appreciate Dan not laughing at the time as I’m not sure I could have contained my laughter.  We eventually came up to the visitor’s center where I washed up and we both grabbed some water to quench our thirst. I would like to revisit that state park and come prepared.  Blue Mound State Park has a lot to offer such as one of the last remnants of preserved native prairie, the Sioux quartzite cliffs, wildflowers and cactus, Buffalo, and bird watching.

Blue Mound Pano-5997

Traveling in the Southwestern portion of the state gave way to many interesting finds, as our travels always do.  According to Wikipedia, “this region is a transition zone between the prairies and the Great Plains”.  From hiking trails found in Blue Mounds State Park and appreciating the landscape, to exploring southwestern cities such as Luverne, Marshall, and Pipestone to absorb the history and architecture, we stumbled upon many surprises along the way that of course we had to capture.

Pipestone National Monument

Pipestone National Monument-5772

“For countless generations, American Indians have quarried the red pipestone found at this site. These grounds are sacred to many people because the pipestone quarried here is carved into pipes used for prayer. Many believe that the pipe’s smoke carries one’s prayer to the Great Spirit. The traditions of quarrying and pipemaking continue here today.”                                                                    Source: National Park Service

Dan and I enjoyed our hike on the well groomed trails and visiting the quarry itself. As you walk the trails you encounter cloth ties on trees and rocks; the ties represent a prayer or an offering and are placed here for spiritual purposes.  While visiting the center and the daily demonstrations of pipestone carving, we met and visited with the talented Travis Erickson. Travis is a fourth generation self-taught artist who learned the basic techniques from his mother and other male elders.  The grounds and the trails are wonderful to explore, so full of history and tradition.

For more information please visit : National Park Service, Pipestone National Monument, MN

When you pray with this pipe, you pray for and with everything.
-Black Elk

Off the Beaten Path

Blue Mound-5663-

When Dan and I travel, we rarely take the direct route.  Venturing off the beaten path is where the fun is.  On this particular trip, the end goal was Pipestone, MN which is located at the very Southwestern corner of MN.  There were many towns along the way that we made a mental note to stop back and explore further at a later date and time.  A few mentionable towns we decided, for some reason or another, to stop in were Gibbon and Walnut Grove MN.

To Pipestone we go

As we traveled through Gibbon, MN a few of the business caught our eye and seemed to bring us back to another point in time. Gibbon Village Hall is an extremely interesting building;  the unusual building was built in 1895 with medieval-themed Romanesque Revival architecture.  We also took some time out of our travels to walk into Bad Dog Antiques and Other Attractions and were pleasantly surprised.  What a very interesting and unique store… I am still kicking myself for not purchasing the complete antique set of alphabet wooden blocks!  If ever in the area, stop in and chat with the friendly staff. To see more images from Gibbon, MN take the time to view Dan’s blog, “Gibbon, MN/MN South Central”.

Located in the Southwest corner of Redwood County, Lies a small town called Walnut Grove.  Walnut Grove is known nationwide today as the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Every year, the town holds a Wilder Pageant which is an outdoor drama based of the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although there are no pictures of the historical site in this blog, I remember visiting the banks of Plum creek often as a child since my grandmother lived and taught school in a small town located east of this area in Lamberton.