I just love September. Summer’s crazy pace slows to something more manageable. The sun hits my face through our bedroom window noticeably later. Temperatures are still summery, but there’s a slight chill in the air when I step out for my morning run.
I’m a huge fan of road trips, and September is a great time to drive Montana’s blue highways. The grass is still green, but golden tones flicker through on those faraway hillsides. The sun doesn’t get quite so high in the sky, so light is gorgeous for shooting all day long.
I took these first two images by Willow Creek (near Three Forks). I am always drawn to interesting fence posts and fencelines along gravel roads—and when they are on top of a hill, the landscape in the distance shows up really nicely. I’m always on the lookout for quirky details, and this hood ornament happened to be on an old car parked next to the road. It’s nice to shoot in the late evening when the light is so strong it looks honey-drenched. Once it’s down, I can head to the Willow Creek Café & Saloon in for their famous barbecued ribs.
Another stretch I hit in September is Highway 191 between Big Timber and Harlowton. (I head up to my parents’ farm in Denton often in the fall, and this is the way we always go.) I am a sucker for neon signs—even the plain Janes with interesting fonts like the Corral Motel. As long as the light’s good and you balance your framing, you’ll capture a decent shot.
I guess you could say I collect road signs with funny names, so my kids and I are always playing I Spy for these. If you time your drive right and hit this stretch in the late afternoon or early evening, you can stop at Bill’s Place Diner & Catering Service in Melville (about halfway between Big Timber and Harlow) for some delicious barbecue.
It’s especially fun to come here for their Friday Night BBQ/Music Nights (next one is September 18, 2015). On these nights, food is served 4:00-7:30pm, and music starts at 5:00pm. They serve barbecued ribs, chicken, smoked pork, beef brisket and prime rib sandwiches. (They now have a beer and wine license too.) The music is set up outside, and it’s fun to two-step under the Big Sky or just sit and enjoy a golden Montana evening.
Soon enough, roads will be snow-packed and icy and the countryside blanketed in white. Now’s the time to hit the road and rack up some miles. Throw in your camera and hunt for some unique road signs and great Montana barbecue!