After hot showers, filling our bellies with blueberry chocolate pancakes + vege-scrambled eggs and downing a couple cups of coffee, we jumped on the road across South Dakota. Halfway there we took the scenic route through the Badlands.
Our favorite spot was the one with golden + pink formations. It had been an ocean, then a jungle + then what it was now - gradients of popsicle colors with wide grassy expanses.
On our way out of the park, we had a near miss with a huge longhorn ram crossing the road + we stared in awe at the beautiful creature as we careened by.
We drove most of the day and after a night roasting marshmallows, drinking hot chocolate + camping on the hillside in a park in Western South Dakota, we made our way toward Cascade Falls, a place we had mapped out as having rare flowers that could not be found in any other place in the state, including a rare wild orchid. We stopped by the Whitney Preserve, which was full of large bright orange + tiny blue dragonflies. We sidestepped a snake (the area is known for rattlesnakes) and recorded the stream, the birds + the insects singing, while swatting away deer flies.
We were taken aback by the color of the water at Cascade Falls, a teal-colored swimming hole with four different mineral springs that stays an even 67 degrees year around. We put on our suits + water shoes + dove into the blue-green pool at the base of the small waterfall. Magical mineral-rich water that smoothed + healed our skin, we spent some time swimming around + floating on our backs.
I circled the pool to look for orchids + found an inlet where the local swimmers didn't go. I was so happy to have water shoes, because the mud sank to about a foot deep, my feet getting stuck with each step, while immersed in water up to my chest. Annnnd … sure enough! I found the elusive Stream Orchid, growing out from the rock wall with a rare kind of fern.
There were only three flowers left; all the rest were past their blooming time - it was as if they had waited for us to arrive.
The Stream Orchid is red, green, yellow + looks a bit like an open mouth. As I was making the flower essence a group of cicadas began to sing very, very loudly + the sunshine shone fiercely, burning my bare skin.
I jumped in the water to cool down one last time. I floated on my back, and as my ears submerged, it was total silence, except for the sound of my breath. I listened to the air filling + leaving my lungs. I felt a tremendous gratitude for this place, the water, the orchids, the cicadas, the protectors of this place + this precious life in general. My lungs let out a quick breath, as the emotion came out in my exhale. I thanked the place + we got on the road again - driving the entire expanse across Wyoming in one day.
By evening, as the sun set, we drove through the Tetons + picked up a dear friend, Lynda Sing, from the Jackson Hole Airport - set in huge expanses of rich green grass at the base of the mountains. We drove to our airbnb in Victor, Idaho, a spacious, light-filled house in the country with a huge fire pit in the back.
We would do an epic wildflower collection the following day.
Love + flower petals,
Comments will be approved before showing up.