Exploring the Roads Less Traveled:
A Longhaul Adventure through Nebraska and the Dakotas with Justin Tedford
There's something undeniably captivating about the vast landscape of Nebraska and the Dakotas. Nested in the heart of the Dakotas are the highways which take adventure-seeking photographers off the beaten path into many unincorporated communities and forgotten relics of the prairie. These communities and the vast landscape are visual opportunities for any photographer searching for adventure and unique subjects.
I am not your ordinary photographer; mountains don't excite me much, nor do the beaches of the coasts. Yet, I find myself in awe of the rural landscapes of the Midwest. Ever since I was a young boy and first introduced to the Dakotas by my grandparents, I've had an inkling to jump in the car a plan an epic road trip across Nebraska and the Dakotas. I made 2023 the year of travel and finally photographed what I wanted. I knew the Dakotas had to be on the list! I knew the trip would land me some fascinating subject matter with some research and exploring on my part. Ardmore, South Dakota? Definitely only a tourist destination if you're into rusting vehicles and empty buildings.
I traveled a little over 1600 miles in four days crisscrossing North and South Dakota photographing mostly small, incorporated towns like Ardmore and Provo, South Dakota, and headed up to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Mostly photographing the many structures that are forgotten and left from the past. My goal was to get out, explore, and see where the open road would take me. No one telling me when and where I needed to be or what I could and couldn't photograph!
As every photographer knows, you can't live with just one camera bag. Ages ago I took a chance on my first Think Tank bag, and there was no looking back. I lost count, but I am sure I own at least ten Think Tank products. An epic road trip calls for an epic bag so I did what any person would do — I picked up the Freeway Longhaul 50 and 75. I am always close to my vehicle when I am out with the camera, and having quick access to gear is a must.
The Longhauls are perfect for more than just camera gear. The Longhaul 75 was big enough for me to fit my clothes for a four-day trip, and I used the Longhaul 50 for all my snacks. Don't judge; road trips call for snacks, lots of snacks!
The new Freeway Tote and Organizer Cubes were a perfect fit in both the Longhaul 50 and 75, and the customizable divider system helped me stay organized and easily find the needed items. The outer pockets were great for things that I frequently reached for!The zippered top was also great for hiding my gear as I entered and exited hotels from any prying eyes. When I didn't need the zippered top, it was great I could tuck it into the pocket, so it was out of the way.
Overall, these are a great addition to my Think Tank collection, with outstanding durability, variety of sizes, and functionality. They will defiantly be in the vehicle on the way to Mesa Verde and Great Sand Dunes National Park this summer!
You’ll usually find Justin Tedford behind the wheel of a car that's covered in gravel dust. He’s a photographer, husband, and photo educator who roams the rural landscapes and back roads of Iowa looking to photograph the state’s agriculture and rural communities before they become a distant memory. Hop in the car with him on Instagram.