August 25, 2004

From Idaho to Minnesota

Donít try driving through Yellowstone National Park on the way to somewhere else, not even on a Tuesday. It canít be done. I donít even want to think about how many hours that ďlittleĒ detour took me and Sean yesterday. The idea was to take a quick spin through the park on our way to Rapid City, South Dakota from Idaho Falls. But by 5:00 in the evening we were only 200 miles from where we started at 7:00 that morning. It was two hours before dark and we had 500 miles to go.

Our schedule was utterly shot. There was no hope of getting anywhere near South Dakota, let alone to Rapid City and the Badlands, before dark. So we just decided to heck with the plan. We would drive until we got tired and see how far we could get. We made it all the way to Minneapolis. (Not before dark, though.)

I donít remember South Dakota. We blew through it on autopilot and cruise-control. Granted, it was dark for much of the way, but still. South Dakota, like Nebraska, is an enormous chore state. It seems to go on forever and ever and ever and there is almost no visual evidence of progress. How could Sean and I be so mentally zonked that we could forget that experience? We made that trip today. I still shudder at the memory of driving on I-80 across Nebraska ten years ago.

Anyway, I have some photo evidence of Eastern Idaho and Wyoming for you. I did snap one picture of South Dakota in an apparently brief moment of lucidity and awareness.

We're in Minneapolis now. Tomorrow we have to leave, but I donít want to.


Morning mist rises out of a valley in Eastern Idaho.


The most beautiful place in Idaho Ė Swan Valley.


The Grand Tetons form the western wall of breathtaking Jackson Hole, Wyoming.


Wyoming is almost totally empty of people. There is no urban sprawl here.


You canít speed through Wyoming the way you can South Dakota.


We paid money to get into Yellowstone, but the free scenery was best.


The sky in South Dakota is bigger and more open than here in Northern Wyoming, but this scenery frames it better.


The Missouri River winds through South Dakota.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 25, 2004 11:56 PM

Could you possibly post a hi-res version of your "Morning mist rises out of a valley in Eastern Idaho" photo?

I spent a few great summers in the Tetons/Jackson Hole. That mountain range looks like a special effects team created it.

Posted by: MDP at August 26, 2004 12:23 AM

>>>"South Dakota, like Nebraska, is an enormous chore state."


what about the badlands? Was it dark already? It's several hours of great scenery.

Posted by: David at August 26, 2004 07:19 AM

ps. do we live in the world's most beautiful country or what.

Posted by: David at August 26, 2004 07:19 AM

Where exactly are you heading?

Posted by: Mark D. at August 26, 2004 09:26 AM

That first photograph is mind-bendingly beautiful. I'd get a much larger version of it made. It reminds me of the Hudson River school of painters.

Posted by: lindenen at August 26, 2004 09:50 AM

Okay, now these are really, really, making me homesick.
I need to change these desert boots in for a pair of ruby slippers.

Posted by: Diggs at August 26, 2004 10:12 AM

Wow, Michael, thanks for posting these pictures. They're absolutely beautiful. Makes me want to chuck all and get out there, too.

Posted by: alcibiades at August 26, 2004 10:39 AM


I really, really need to go on a vacation.

MJT - thanks for reminding us how lame our office jobs are!

Kidding - thanks for sharing your awesome photos.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at August 26, 2004 12:22 PM


I grew up in Minneapolis. have a great time!

Posted by: Steve at August 26, 2004 01:57 PM

First; while the Badlands are surely beautiful, the high plains along and east of the Missouri are, by my thinking, the most beautiful place in the world. 180 degrees of sky above you, from horizon to horizon, nothing but space and wind and the blowing grass. I grew up there, and while I couldn't live there anymore (even if there were the kind of jobs there I wanted, small-town society isn't for me), it is several thousand miles of the most stunning vista there is.

Second: how DARE you come through Minneapolis without saying "hi" to any of your many fans here? While I imagine you're on your way east by now, we're having a huge get together with most of the Northern Alliance and Hugh Hewitt tonight. Woulda been fun to meet!

Happy trails!

Mitch Berg

Posted by: mitch at August 26, 2004 03:08 PM

Swan Valley! That's it! That's the place!

I drove from Connecticut to Portland in 1997; spent the night atop a ridge in eastern Wyoming after driving, yup, I-80 across Nebraska. I saw I was back in the West next morning, and wanted to kiss the ground.

That evening I drove through Swan Valley, making the jump to I-84. I've wondered ever since if the place was really that beautiful, or if it was just my weary eyes.

Now I know. It's real.

Posted by: dipnut at August 26, 2004 03:58 PM

Get a free flat screen! I just received a Sony WEGA tv by following this simple guide:

Posted by: RG at August 26, 2004 05:40 PM

The photos are beautiful!

In 2000 my husband and I drove across country 3 times (LA-Chicago-LA-Rochester,NY) which meant 3 times across Nebraska on I-80. I'm done!

Posted by: BeckyJ at August 26, 2004 07:11 PM

You know, Idaho really does have some breathtakingly gorgeous spots. I never would have imagined until I went there just now hice it was. Somehow I always just thought, "potatoes, and uh... potatoes."

Posted by: Dean Esmay at August 27, 2004 05:23 AM

Wow. Just wow. Thanks for sharing the pictures with us.

Posted by: david at August 27, 2004 12:27 PM

Let me get this straight Michael. You drove through the most treacherous and beautiful territory in the country, places that the pioneers found virtually impassible, that the indians revered as holy, and you are complaining because you had trouble covering 700 miles in one day!

Posted by: jj at August 30, 2004 06:19 AM
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