Outside of Buffalo, South Dakota
I spent the day with rancher Bret Clanton. In addition to being a really good photographer and generous host, Clanton descends from some well known outlaw cowboys who finally settled down in South Dakota after making multiple cattle drives from Texas to Montana.
Bret takes me to Scranton, just across the border in North Dakota to show me where TransCanada has stock piled hundreds of miles of pipe in anticipation of a presidential permit to build the northern stretch of the Keystone XL. Exposure to the elements has caused the protective coating on the pipe to wear away, prompting a white paint job to reflect the sunlight. As I stand there looking at acres of pipe brought in by rail, and stacked five high…it all seems so inevitable. I turn and look at Bret and he says, “whenever someone asks me if TransCanada is committed to building this pipeline, I take them here and let them see this.”
"It’s a small world, unless you have to walk"
—Stadium Sports Grill, Home of the World-Famous Rancher Tips
Edge of Buffalo, South Dakota
Buffalo, South Dakota
Opal, South Dakota
Stayed the night with the Vig family in the small town of Opal, South Dakota. The next morning Dwanye invites me to tag along as he helps his brother round-up cattle to bring to the sale barn in Faith that same day.
Christian & Cassie Holland
These folks knock on my tent around 8:30pm while I’m camping on a section line. Christian & Cassie are coming back from the sale barn in Newell, selling their sheep for the season. It’s starting to get cold, and I’m grateful to be invited back to their house where they light a fire in the wood stove.
The next morning, Cassie sings as she makes breakfast with cast iron on the wood stove. Her voice is the nearest thing I’ve heard to an angel. Homemade bread, fresh eggs, milk, bacon, homegrown potatoes & hot apple cider. She even makes her own yogurt with honey from their hive and peaches they canned in the Summer. I think I’ve died & gone to heaven.
Cassie sends me off with some homemade pumpkin bread, also from the garden. I eat a little down the road and it’s delicious. You can taste the love.
Buffalo ranch near Reva, South Dakota
Trail marker from Bismarck, North Dakota to Deadwood, South Dakota
Mud Butte, SD
I wander upon a church near dusk. The door is open, so I walk on in. I think I’m the only person in town. It’s so cold outside, hope they don’t mind me staying the night.