Bison (commonly and erroneously known as buffalo) are some of the most common animals seen wild in the Black Hills. They are pretty impressive.
As we drove through Custer State Park, we also saw a more rare sighting: a group of bighorn sheep!
They were quite close to the road, and I was able to get a fine view of these two reclining bighorns.
Another funny animal story of our trip (one I don't have a photo for) concerns the Brewers' blackbirds of northeast Wyoming. We had stopped for a picnic lunch at a rest area, and we were eating hard boiled eggs, salad, apples, a few other things. The blackbirds began to hop towards us hopefully, so we tossed them a chunk of apple, and a piece of lettuce. They tried the apple, and then the lettuce, one peck each, and then- no kidding- they fluffed out their feathers and squawked angrily to each other, and then flapped away! They probably wanted french fries. Mom and Dad and I laughed so hard. I wish I'd had my camera out!
It rained today as we drove into the Black Hills. Mt. Rushmore was just barely visible, so we didn't stop and pay the parking fee, but drove on. We took an extremely windy road down to Custer State Park. There were 3 different tunnels like this:
And the forest was full of pyramidal piles of sticks, where trees had been thinned and cut down. We called them "Eeyore houses" because they look just like that. (This photo's a bit blurred- I was shooting from the car).
Though the rain obscured the faces of George, Abe, Teddy and Tom, it made the trees look incredibly GREEN. Admittedly I used photoshop on the last picture, but that only reproduces what I actually saw:
I can't decide whether I like the pink& blue ostrich boots or the orange & green ones best, though I'm enthralled by the pimply leather (you really need to enlarge the photo to get the full effect).
Mom and Dad get friendly with an old prospector.
The whole thing is half movie set, half series of stores of tourist knicknacks. If you want a stuffed jackalope, or a T shirt with hot pink wild horses printed on it, or a tacky mug, or an overpriced Black Hills gold ring, this is your place. Dad got a hat, Mom got a puzzle... but I, the souvenir purchaser extraordinare, got only photos this time (I'm amazed at my restraint).
Driving through South Dakota, you start to see these billboards dotting I-90. Some of them are quite amusing, and it is very entertaining to watch for them, and see what the next one is going to say, or how many of them there are, which is sometimes quite close together.
Three of them! (Ok, they aren't all for Wall Drug, but most of the billboards out there are.)
How nice! They like the veterans! (There was another great one, advertising free coffee and doughnuts for newlyweds, but I didn't get a picture of that one.)
A real wild west tourist experience! We drove across I-90 several times when I was a kid, and it was always fun to look for the Wall Drug signs. The challenge of photographing them made another great pastime on this trip.
I never thought of the badlands as being so green! The overcast light made the green really show up, and the subdued colors glowed beautifully. I was very lucky to find a clump of primroses blooming on the edge of a hillock, in the yellow hills area.
When we visited Devil's Tower, I had hoped for clear skies, or dramatic clouds, but we got flat gray overcast. Nevertheless, there was something there that I had not seen my last visit (in 2003)- though I may have missed it- and that is the prayer scarves and bundles tied around the trees by American Indians. There's a sign up asking people not to disturb them, so I was careful not to move them or touch them at all, but they made great dramatic accents to the photos... and made me think about the monument in a rather different way.
As we rounded a curve of the road in Teton National Park, I just had to pull over for this view of Mt. Moran. I love the Tetons. Someday I'm going to go there and stay (instead of racing through on my way to Yellowstone).
At Yellowstone's Lewis Lake, it may be June, but it's far from warm. Near the bank there was an early promise of spring: a branch of pussy willow.
I liked the contrast of the early budding willow with the ice still in the lake, but I needed to get close to the willows to get this photo. So I rolled up my trousers, and waded out into the lake, about knee deep. Cold! And very invigorating! After I got back in the car and my feet warmed up again, they felt terrific. I think I see why people in northern countries do the steam room/ cold pool plunge thing.
On our road trip, passing through Star Valley, we saw fields and fields of dandelions, which one horse apparently thought was the perfect place to rest. Up at Yellowstone, the relaxation continued; lots of bison were lying peacefully throughout Hayden Valley.
Hummingbirds are tricky to photograph, small, fast, and relatively shy. They are used to people gawking at them, up on the deck at the Bear Lake house, but the males in particular seem to know when a CAMERA is aimed at them, and then they fly away. But there are a good dozen of them that haunt the place. They are great fun to watch.
I am a keen amateur photographer, an avid traveler, a dedicated researcher. My main area of interest is the European middle ages although I like history and culture, especially social history, of all eras and regions. I am especially fond of good architecture and I am really, really fond of reptiles.
I usually post this blog to share highlights from my travels with family and friends. If you are a potential friend wandering by, you are welcome; any of my art or nature images posted here are available for non profit personal or study use, and if reproduced I ask that I be credited as photographer.