Last summer my parents were visiting family in South Dakota when I got a text from my mom. It said “Aunt Cheryl wants to know if you are available this weekend to take family and engagement pictures.” It was Tuesday night. My mom and my aunt were kidding but that weekend happened to be the only weekend of the summer I didn’t have a wedding scheduled.
So I did what I do best: I looked up plane tickets. Because why not?
And so a crazy fun adventure was born.
By Wednesday morning I had booked a flight from Los Angeles to Denver, a rental car to drive from Denver to Deadwood, South Dakota, AND most importantly I’d convinced my best friend to tag along on the adventure… with about 2 days notice.
Because I’m me, of course I wanted to pack this trip as full as humanly possible so I scheduled a shoot at Badlands National Park for Friday afternoon. Meaning Alexis and I had just enough time to get from DIA to Badlands National Park [about 370 miles away] to meet my couple by sunset. So of course we detoured out of our way to cut our time even closer. Typical. 😉
Our first detour was to Chimney Rock in Bayard, Nebraska. It happened something like I was driving and saw a sign that said Chimney Rock to the left and I immediately said “Chimney Rock like in the Oregon Trail!?!?” and turned left. Always stop for Oregon Trail monuments.
Our second detour went much the same. Except this time it was Alexis who couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska. We took full advantage of everything Nebraska had to offer.
We arrived at Badlands National Park just in time to meet my couple, meaning we didn’t get to explore much. But I did get a few scenic photos! I’m always looking for the desert no matter where I go.
My moms side of the family has lived in South Dakota my whole life. I’ve spent my whole childhood traveling there in the summer and over Christmas but we never did touristy things when I was a kid so I was super excited to go adventuring on Saturday afternoon. We stopped at Mt. Rushmore, which I haven’t visited in probably 15+ years.
We walked around Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. Which you may recognize from National Treasure 2.
Then we stopped along Needles Highway at sunset for my cousin’s engagement pictures. Which I’m going to share next week if I can get my act together! 😉
After a Saturday of adventuring Alexis and I made our way back to Denver on Sunday. We definitely left my aunts house early enough that we could drive an hour and a half past DIA to make a quick Garden of the Gods pit stop. I’m the most ridiculous traveler you’ll ever meet. Promise.
I’m heading back to the Mid-West next week and I’m pretty excited about it! My first stop will be Madison, WI to photograph my cousins wedding. Then I’m taking a quick flight from Madison to Rapid City to spend 4th of July week in the Black Hills. Something I haven’t done since high school! Here’s to lots of exploring! Top of my list is to explore the Badlands in the daylight! [And hopefully photograph another couple while I’m there!] But I wouldn’t be mad about seeing buffalo in Custer State Park either. Just saying!