After a week and a half in Colorado, we drove two days up to Montana to visit my aunt and uncle. My mother and her brother grew up in the farmlands of eastern Montana, and my uncle still lives there and works the family farm.

      When people imagine Montana, they often think of the spectacular mountains of the western part of the state. The eastern side is magnificent, too. The plains have rolling hills, dramatic cliffs, vast open spaces, and bright blue skies.

      This trip was our kids’ first time visiting the place where their grandmother grew up. They’ve heard so much about the family farm, and they were so excited to see it. Mike and I hadn’t been there since 2006, so we were excited, too.

      But most of all, we were eager to see my aunt and uncle, two of the kindest people I’ll ever know.

      The landscape outside Culbertson, Montana

      This grand view shows the gorgeous landscape of eastern Montana, as seen from my uncle’s farmland.


      With my aunt and parents on the farm where my mother and uncle grew up.


      Rock climbing on the farm

      Daniel, the mountain goat, was in heaven exploring the open lands that belong to the family. No park rules — just childhood freedom!


      The old granary on the family farm

      I loved showing the kids a genuine, working farm, and hearing stories from my mom about living there when she was a child. I was worried that my kids were starting to assume that a “farm” meant a petting zoo or fall festival with hayrides and giant slides. Much to my delight, they loved the real thing.


      Big Sky Country

      The skies were mostly clear during the time we were there, but I did love the dramatic clouds that rolled in.


      Hiking through the rolling hills

      We saw 15 states on this road trip vacation. Daniel decided that his favorite state of all was Colorado, with Montana a close second. He loves adventure! Sorry, Virginia, you came in third place.


      Sunset over the Missouri River

      We stayed in a cabin (someone hipper than I am would call it a “tiny house”) on the farm near the Missouri River. This was the sunset view over the water.


      The starry sky over Culbertson, Montana

      Those lights on the other side of the river are the tiny town of Culbertson, my mother’s home town. If you look closely at the stars, you’ll see the Big Dipper tipping down over the people of the town.


      The full moon and stars over the family farm

      I was so enamored by the open, clear skies that I took my tripod out at night and took some 30-second exposures. I had really wanted to photograph the Milky Way, but the full moon made the sky too bright to see it well. So I decided to photograph the moon and roll with it.

      The starburst effect on the moon is caused by the small aperture(ish) I was using. I shot this image at 30 seconds, f9, ISO 1600. I decided to blow out the moon because I wanted to feature the stars instead. To darken the moon enough to see details in its surface, the sky would be too dark to see stars.


      The Big Dipper over our cabin


      To see more of my travel and scenic photography, follow me on Instagram @charlottegearyphotography and browse the galleries in my online SHOP.

      Related posts:

      Our epic American road trip, part 1: The paradise of Colorado

      A whirlwind trip to majestic Montana, including Glacier National Park

      Some of my favorite scenic photos from 2016

      Scenes from our vacation to the gorgeous Southwest of England

      Corolla, NC: Outer Banks, part 1

      Corolla, NC: Outer Banks, part 2

      Camping trip in Moab, Utah

      Charlotte Geary


      Lifestyle, event, and portrait photographer with a vibrant, joyful style and 17 years of professional experience.

      Located in Reston, Virginia near Washington, D.C. and available for travel.