Child of the Prairies


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Published: September 5th 2018
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TatankaTatankaTatanka

Remember "Dances with Wolves" with Kevin Costner? Most of the movie was filmed in South Dakota.
Tom and I are driving home through the prairie states of Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. We drove west through Canada’s prairie provinces: Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. I told him today that though I love some of the things about the eastern US (I lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Tennessee), I’m a child of the prairies, having lived in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, and love to be where I can look across the wide spaces, see the whole sky, and breathe with the help of the constant wind. Middle America is not just “flyover” country to me.

We’ve spent the last couple of days at Custer State Park in South Dakota. If you’ve never been there, it’s time to go. Tourist attractions range from watching real cowboys round up real buffalo (bison for the picky ones) to touring the Badlands’ bizarre geology to viewing the four big white guys at Mount Rushmore and the equally large Crazy Horse monument that’s nearby.

If you need to see one place that reminds you of the impact of European immigration on the lives of the much earlier Native American settlers, this is the place to go. Custer State
Tatanka at RestTatanka at RestTatanka at Rest

We came upon a large part of the herd at rest, but the cowboys were coming.
Park operates multiple campgrounds, cabins and lodges, offers three scenic drives, and preserves a herd of 1400 buffalo on its 71,000 acres. (They are the remnant of the 30 to 60 MILLION buffalo that lived on the prairies 200 years ago.) We were lucky to see the beginning of the annual roundup, with real cowboys dressed in real 19th century cowboy attire.

Tomorrow ( 6 September 2018), we’ll continue east.


Additional photos below
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Herding BuffaloHerding Buffalo
Herding Buffalo

If you look carefully, you'll see a cowboy and a pickup truck behind the herd.
Burros FeedingBurros Feeding
Burros Feeding

When I was a child, we visited Custer State Park and encountered these guys. My parents forbade us from feeding the burros who stuck their heads in the car, so one bit my dad on the shoulder. There's a photo somewhere.
Back at the CampgroundBack at the Campground
Back at the Campground

We saw mountain goats and pronghorn antelope today, but they insisted on showing me only their back ends.
Wildfires on the MountainsWildfires on the Mountains
Wildfires on the Mountains

We saw fire crews and THINK this helicopter was spraying fire retardant chemicals. He flew right down the highway.


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