03-14-14 Beyond Wasta, SD

2014 03-14 Beyond Wasta by Watertown, South Dakota, photographer Scott Shephard

Wasta, SD, is a a very small town along I-90 in the western part of our state. Perhaps it is best known for the rest stops that are near the town. And on a busy summer day, I would guess that the population of the interstate rest stops is greater than that of Wasta.

Besides the rest areas, Wasta has caught my attention for two other reasons. The first is the Cheyenne River, which flows under the interstate, near the rest stops and by the city. The Cheyenne was once a great river that carved a fairly broad valley as it made its way to the Missouri River, which divides our state into what we call “West River” and “East River.” These days, the river is often just a brown stream. And the paradox of a relative trickle flowing through and expansive valley fascinates me.

The other thing about Wasta is that if you look north as you pass by interstate exit, there is a road that rises above the town in an intriguing curve and then disappears. Two days ago, I had driven a few miles east of Wasta when I thought, “Why not?” I found a turn-around, exited at Wasta and headed up the hill and a journey that took me places I had never been before.

Today’s photo is the first one I took on my backroads travels. Some might find this scene a little too colorless, but to me, that’s where the beauty lies. I’ll be posting more of my travels this past week over the next few days.

(In case you’re curious, here’s the route I took home from the cabin. The normal, fastest route to the cabin is about 320 miles. This path home covered 470 miles. So I only went out of my way by 150 miles. It was worth it.)

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