The Palouse, Eastern Washington Sate

Barn with American flag near Palouse, Eastern Washington

Road in the Palouse, Eastern Washington State

Rapeseed field near Palouse, Eastern Washington State

Road near Rapeseed field in Palouse, Eastern Washington State

Rustic barn near Palouse, Eastern Washington State

Rolling green fields near Palouse, Eastern Washington State

Old barn in a field of Rapeseed near Palouse, Eastern Washington

Abandonded barn near Palouse, Eastern Washington State

Wind turbines near Palouse, Eastern Washington

Fields near Palouse, Eastern Washington

Wind Turbine farm near Palouse, Eastern Washington

Wind Turbine farm near Palouse, Eastern Washington

Summer wheat field in Palouse, Eastern Washington

Field of wildflowers near Starbuck, Washington

Lupine in the Palouse, Eastern Washington State

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Pie Town, New Mexico, Population 186

After a great night of Milky Way photography at the area around the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array National Radio Astronomy Observatory along Highway 60, I camped out in the Datil Well Campground on BLM land. Datil Well Recreation Area Campground includes one of 15 water wells along the old Magdalena Livestock Driveway. The old cattle trail was established in the 1800s and stretched 120 miles from Springerville, Arizona, to Magdalena, New Mexico. It was a great campsite built by the CCC.

I left the campsite and drove west of Highway 60 gaining elevation until I reached the Continental Divide at a little town called Pie Town (population 186). Of course, there are only three buildings in the little town and they all sell homemade pies made with local apples and pinon nuts.

I arrived a bit before noon so the place I choose had only two local residents having coffee as patrons. I went back to the kitchen to say hello to the two friendly ladies who were baking the pies for the day. They had quite an assembly line going and told me that they had sold out of pies the day before. I ordered a small apple pie to go and went outside to have a look around the town. These are some photos of the town.

I stopped to read the Pie Town News then picked up my pie and headed on down the road. I drove north to the El Malpais National Conservation Area south of Grants, New Mexico where I ate some of the little pie when I stopped for lunch at La Ventana Natural Arch. It was pretty amazing after my hike to the arch.

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Bisti Badlands De-Na-Zin Wilderness in New Mexico

I drove to Farmington, New Mexico from Bluff, Utah because I wanted to try to shoot the Milky Way over the Bisti Badlands. I had heard about the Badlands and wanted to visit them. I re-stocked my cooler at the Walmart in Farmington, filled my tank with gas and headed south of Framington on Highway 371. After leaving the urban area the landscape quickly became empty and desolate. The sun beat down on the treeless terrain and there was no hope of shade anywhere. I quickly understood why this area was known as badlands. There were interesting sandstone hoodoo shapes and terrain similar to the Badlands of South Dakota. I exited the two lane at the entrance sign and started driving down the gravel road into the badlands.

I stopped to take photos and a panorama but the sun was relentless and drove me back to the shade of my car after a few minutes.

This is the gravel road leading into the Badlands.

After a few miles I came upon the parking lot and the end of the road. It was on horseback or walking from here on. I put on my biggest, shadiest sun hat, applied SPF 100, packed my backpack with water and protein bars, grabbed my Nikon and iPhone (for photos only, no cell service at all) and headed out after consulting the map.

This is what I saw all around me.

Although the area had some potential for Milky Way photography I decided not to stay for the night. It just seemed too isolated and desolate. I’ve been in some really remote places in my life but this place really takes the cake. As I told my brother, David after I got back into cell phone range, “this is a place to die.”

I was pretty happy as I headed out of the Badlands and back to the two lane highway. I decided this was not a place to be alone in for very long. You really could easily die out there. One day I will hope to come back with some other Milky Way enthusiasts and a horse or two and get the shots I want.

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