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Trips
Black Hills

Black Hills

After Devils Tower, we continued to the South Dakota Black Hills region where we spent several days doing the tourist circuit: Badlands, Custer State Park, Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and even Wall Drug. I’ll spare you photos of the latter.

Last time I shared with you the history of the Devils Tower name, I thought I’d continue that this week with background on the Black Hills name. I was actually curious as to the origin of the name and assumed it was related to the minerals in the ground (historically the region’s economy was built on extractive industries, though it has shifted to tourism – essentially the story of so many western towns). It turns out that the hills just look black from a distance, due largely to the evergreen tree cover (see the first photo). I guess the name Really Dark Green Hills didn’t flow as well.

The Lakota name, Pahá Sápa, I think is arguably the even better name, meaning “the heart of everything that is.”

Sunrise over the Really Dark Green Hills.
Devils Tower

Devils Tower

Devils Tower, a National Monument in eastern Wyoming, is small in terms of footprint, but big in terms of geological history, Native American culture* (the original name was more accurately Bear’s House or Bear’s Lodge), and, later, pop culture (Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

I had only been here once before and while that felt like yesterday, when I stopped to think about it, it was actually 21 years ago. It was great to return and I’m glad we had such great conditions for camping and photography.

*The Devils Tower name came from a misinterpretation of a native name to mean “Bad God’s Tower” which was changed to Devils Tower. And for your fun fact, the apostrophe is omitted as the US Board on Geographic Names discourages the use of an apostrophe and has done so since its inception over a hundred years ago, but no one knows exactly why that original decision was made.

A dark, cloudless sky one night provided some of the best star and Milky Way viewing I’ve experienced.
Istanbul for a day

Istanbul for a day

I’ll start by saying, you shouldn’t only spend a day in Istanbul. A city of its size and history deserves so much more. However, you also shouldn’t spend a day at the Istanbul airport, no matter how big it is. That’s the situation I found myself in this spring. I had booked a flight connecting in Istanbul with a short layover, but the airlines canceled the earlier connecting flight and rebooked me on the evening flight, 12+ hours later. Faced with a day, jetlagged, in an airport or going to see the town, I chose the latter.

I hired a guide who specializes in layover tours to meet me at the airport, show me a few sites, and take me back in time for my flight. The weather was about perfect. The tulips were in full bloom. And the coffee was, luckily, strong.

Just one picturesque part of Istanbul.
Mexico in Black and White

Mexico in Black and White

Somehow in 30+ countries of traveling, I had (unintentionally) managed to avoid visiting Mexico. I had tentative plans in the past, and, in 2020, we were supposed to make it, but you know how that story ends. That trip was destined for another area of Mexico, but when it came time to try again we opted for the tried-and-true beach vacation, choosing Puerto Vallarta. 

While it wasn’t a trip for photography, it was a picturesque trip. I almost didn’t bring the camera, in fact, but decided I’d regret not having it. You can’t go wrong photographing beach destinations in color, with their sunrises and sunsets, plus colorful flowers. But, from the start of the trip, I had the idea to try and photograph the town in black and white to see if I could capture something a little less typical. 

The beach in the old town area. 
Philadelphia

Philadelphia

Work took me to Philadelphia last month and I was able to go a day early to explore the City. The weather was perfect for walking so I explored on foot, hitting the famous sites and neighborhoods in between.

Philly felt like a mini-NYC. An older city mixed with modern design and a lot of American history, yet smaller and more easily explored in just a couple of days. 

Here are a few of my favorites.

Philadelphia