We then traveled a hundred miles eastward to Badlands National Park, where we spent two nights at Circle View guest ranch. I had expected South Dakota to be mostly flat cattle-land planted in field crops. This is not the case in the southwestern corner of the state. After leaving the high forested ridges of the Black Hills the land did turn flat, but within an hour the rugged and forbidding peaks of the Badlands loomed up in the distance.
Before checking in at the ranch we took a detour through Badlands National Park and drove 23 miles to Wall, the nearest town. Smokey Bear greeted us:
The Wall Drug Store is a hodge-podge of vendors selling anything a tourist might wish to have as a remembrance of this unique part of the USA. It is famous for free chilled water and 5 cent coffee:
After stocking up at the only supermarket in town we checked into our lodging. We grilled some steaks, made pasta and salad and enjoyed the repast. On the working ranch our accommodations were indeed spartan. As advertised, both of our cabins had nice propane-fired barbecue grills.
Our primitive "Treetop Cabin" had electricity, running water, air conditioning, a tiny refrigerator, two beds and clean linens. At our only tap, in the bathroom, the water smelled of rotten eggs-- very likely (we hoped) just naturally occurring sulfur from the well. We brought lots of water bottles so this was not a problem:
In our daughter's adjacent "Cowboy Cabin," her family enjoyed four beds, a kitchen sink, a hot plate, coffee maker and toaster, as well as assorted dinnerware and a couple of pots and pans.
Since Mary Lou must have her early morning coffee, we borrowed the Cowboy Cabin coffeemaker, forgetting that our cupboard was otherwise bare. Up well before sunrise, she had the coffee brewing before I woke up, just as she was asking "Where are the coffee cups?"
We had forgotten to bring some disposable cups from next door! I crept out to the Cowboy Cabin in semi-darkness and quietly tried to open both doors but they were locked. Leaving the occupants in peaceful sleep, my recourse was to retrieve two discarded plastic water bottles from the refuse container. I cut off their upper half and washed them. They did not melt and served us well! "Necessity is the mother of invention:"
I sat on the little front porch, drinking coffee and listening to mostly unfamiliar bird songs. A Black-tailed Jackrabbit did not see me as it moved out from behind the cabin and hopped a couple of feet past me. I took one poor iPhone photo before my movements scared it away:
The sun's early rays coursed the dark sky.
One persistent song sounded vaguely familiar, somewhat like that of an Indigo Bunting. As darkness abated, I located the songster and discovered it was a Blue Grosbeak:
Another song was really new to me, but I suspected it came from a member of the sparrow family. Indeed, as the light improved I recognized several Lark Sparrows:
A Western Meadowlark, which looks almost the same as its Eastern counterpart, sang its distinctive song from a fence post (Westerns warble "look-a-diddle-deedle do" while Easterns whistle "swee-till-see-dee" (I translate their songs respectively as "Look at me I'm a Meadowlark," and "Spring of the Year.)"
A Dickcissel chanted his name from a dooryard treetop:
In the meantime I watched a drama unfold as a large female White-tailed Deer emerged from the far side of the meadow to the east. She seemed to be paying much attention to a wooded area adjacent to the meadow. She huffed and snorted as three smaller does joined her.
Suddenly all took flight. A bit later I heard more deer sounds and the largest doe bounded out of the wooded area with a Coyote on her heels. The predator would have no hope of taking down an adult deer and risked being injured or killed by her sharp hooves if it tried. Either it was playing a game or, more likely, the doe was leading it away from her fawn. I got only one poor shot of the Coyote through the tall grass:
The doe soon returned, and this time I could see she was carrying enough milk for two fawns:
These were just a few of my observations on the first morning of our stay. I will save more for a subsequent post, including my photo of a new "Life List" bird species.
Again, searching for a photo of a reflection, I remembered six years ago, when we celebrated our 50th Anniversary with family, also at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Our children, grandchildren and great-grandson presented us with this plate. At the time we did not realize that it was reflecting the snow-capped mountain peaks:
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Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa).
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to Today's Flowers Friday by Denise
Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display