Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two landmarks in quick succession

with 23 comments


After spending a couple of afternoon hours at Chimney Rock, Nebraska, on May 28th, we drove the short distance west to Scottsbluff and even before checking in at our hotel went to check out Scott’s Bluff National Monument* to make good use of the afternoon light. We worked our way up the winding road to the top of the bluff, parked, and walked around. After a while the wind got so strong that at one point it almost blew me over (but not over the cliff).

Facing in the opposite direction from the picture above, I photographed a geological formation that reminds me of the ruins of a Mayan temple:

Here’s Scott’s Bluff visitor information.

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* The United States Board on Geographic Names seems bent on throwing away apostrophes in geographic names. We’ll show our displeasure and, like Scott’s Bluff itself, rise above that.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 25, 2017 at 4:50 AM

23 Responses

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  1. Very nice! Hopefully some day I will get to see them in person!

    Reed Andariese

    June 25, 2017 at 6:40 AM

    • I’d barely heard of these places in western Nebraska before researching this trip. They’re worth visiting, so I hope you make it there too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2017 at 9:08 AM

  2. My nephew was the supt. of that park a few years ago. He really liked the area. We were not far from there 10 days ago as we drove hwy 20 across NW Nebraska to Yellowstone. Nice countryside.

    Jim R

    June 25, 2017 at 7:35 AM

    • A personal connection: how nice. I hope you got to visit Scott’s Bluff and Chimney Rock.

      We crossed US 20 in Chadron, Nebraska, on May 29th as we headed north to the Black Hills in South Dakota. We crossed US 20 going the other way through Lusk, Wyoming, on June 3rd.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2017 at 10:17 AM

      • There is a nice state park south of Chadron we visited. Lusk was a stop for a break.

        I guess you could say we crossed paths.

        Jim R

        June 25, 2017 at 12:55 PM

        • We did, but not in the 4th dimension, time.

          Are you referring to Fort Robinson State Park on US 20? If so, I stopped briefly to take a few pictures of the rock formations visible from the highway.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 25, 2017 at 1:46 PM

  3. Your mention of the wind reminded me of my first trip to western Kansas. Their 40 mph winds were impressive, too. I was intrigued to see the Native American name for this spot in the linked article: “the hill that is hard to go around.” It occurred to me there might be a difference in world view between that name and “Scott’s Bluff.”

    Your note about the apostrophe in the name reminded me of a New Yorker cartoon I’ve had in my files since 2012. I knew it would come in handy some day.


    June 25, 2017 at 9:32 AM

    • The wind got strong enough that we thought a storm was coming, so we drove back down to the base of Scott’s Bluff, where things were calmer. No storm ever came. Because the going down cut short my picture taking, we returned the next morning and spent a couple of hours more up at the top and down at the bottom.

      You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m with Edward in the cartoon. I’m glad you saved it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2017 at 10:37 AM

    • That difference in worldviews between the cultures as revealed in the two names is quite striking, isn’t it?

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2017 at 10:55 AM

  4. Nebraska? I had no idea such formations existed there! And so green. You had the added bonus of getting to stop and actually TRY to get a good exposure/composition, which are excellent, btw. I was relegated to what Scott calls ‘High Speed Photography’ on our trip out west: shooting from the passenger seat at 75+ mph.

    We had wind issues in Utah while visiting Goblin Valley SP. At one point exploring the floor of fragile hoodoos, our group got split in two as we could no longer hear each other’s voices for wind (40 mph steady, 65 mph gusts…with ample sand-blasting for good measure). The only thing to do for the kids and me was to squat in a shady spot (it was 104 out) at the base of a Goblin and wait for the rest to walk into view. The story ended well, of course, but it was kinda scary for a half hour or so.


    June 25, 2017 at 1:16 PM

    • We drove through the panhandles of three states: Texas, Oklahoma, and then Nebraska. If you look at a map, you’ll see the Nebraska panhandle extends westward over the top of Colorado. Move Scott’s Bluff 50 miles further west, and it would be due north of Denver. As as result, the westernmost parts of Nebraska really are in what we think of as The West, complete with some of the expected geological formations.

      I’ll commiserate with you. I can’t take pictures from a moving car—especially not while I’m driving. There have been plenty of times on recent trips when I’ve been frustrated at not being able to find a convenient and safe place to pull over for a picture of something appealing I’ve seen. Still, I’ve often found such pullovers. One relevant one on this trip was by Fort Robinson State Park in Nebraska, which has some fortress-like rock formations.

      Your Utah wind rose stronger than the one we experienced in Nebraska. It does indeed sound like a scary ordeal you had. It must have been comforting when the rest of your party hove into sight.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2017 at 2:19 PM

      • Ah, then, that explains a lot! Must plan a road trip up through there with the kids one year. We spent most out time in the deserts and canyons with only a glimpse of the Rocky Mtn range in the distance.


        June 25, 2017 at 4:31 PM

        • Well, you can’t do everything on one trip. America is too vast. I’ve thought about the fact that no matter how much I’ve done on recent trips, so many other places went unseen.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 25, 2017 at 5:54 PM

    • By the way, I looked up pictures of Goblin Valley State Park and now I want to go there, too. I see that it lies between Canyonlands and Capitol Reef, both of which we hit briefly 20 years ago and which clearly deserve more attention now. That first trip was triggered when I flew from Texas to California a couple of years earlier and looked down over Utah to see some fabulous landscapes and formations.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2017 at 2:25 PM

      • We didn’t spend much time at GVSP due to the wind and heat but plan on going back again for sure. It was my son’s suggestion and his fav spot!


        June 25, 2017 at 4:33 PM

        • I can see why it was his favorite spot. It probably would’ve been mine, too. The soonest I’d try to visit is probably November, after the worst of the heat has gone for the year.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 25, 2017 at 4:39 PM

  5. Ah, the apostrophe! One could write quite a monologue on its uses and misuses–and many have. I’ve had a long-standing bout with my conscience regarding its seemingly-casual disregard, especially in and around the neighborhoods of New Zealand and Australia, but in many other places as well. After mentioning it in one of my posts, an Australian kindly informed me that they have been purposefully omitted from a number of place names there to make their use in cartography more user-friendly. That may be, but a large part of me still urges me to tilt with the windmills, with the firm conviction that a possessive should stand and be recognized as such. It’s quite clear to me that the apostrophe should struggle to keep its rightful place.


    June 25, 2017 at 6:19 PM

    • Then include this curmudgeon and make that tilt for two. You might say we’re possessive about our possessives. I remember my annoyance with the spelling Arthurs Pass on my first trip to NZ. I saw other instances more recently. If I could just get schools to teach the difference between its and it’s, and enforce that distinction on pain of not being allowed to go on to the next grade, I could die happily.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2017 at 7:29 PM

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