Montana and North Dakota
June 22, 2010
I'm heading to the east coast on rescues, and I've been 'tweeting' from the road, but I took a few pictures yesterday and wanted to get them online. They're not good pictures, and as bad as they are, they seem especially bad after working with Amber Chenoweth to take pictures of the Sanctuary dogs, but they do document the trip, so here:
I was driving on US-2 south of Glacier National Park and noticed a herd of mountain goats sleeping on the hillside above the highway. Just after that was a parking lot for people to use while they looked at a mineral lick that the goats used on the other side of the river. Everyone was crowded around the railing, and I assumed there must be more goats, and maybe they were closer, but it turned out that people were clamoring to see a single goat on a hillside about three times as far away as the ones I'd just seen. And since they were part of a guided tour, they couldn't go up to the highway to look at the larger herd. Suckers.
I made my way across Montana and into North Dakota, where I finally got tired of driving on secondary highways where I had to slow down to 25 MPH every 20 miles to go through some rundown farm town, so I cut down to I-94, but on the way my GPS showed that I was passing some kind of park (green thing on the GPS). I thought to myself that it would be cool if it was Theodore Roosevelt National Park, one of the only national parks in the west that I've been wanting to see but haven't had a chance to visit yet, but it looked too small on the map. Then I saw the entrance sign, and it was Theodore Roosevelt, so I jammed on the brakes and went in.
I'm sure Theodore Roosevelt has a lot to offer, but for me it's mainly interesting because of its bison. I'm kind of a bison fan, and there are a few places in the Dakotas where you can see herds that, while contained within the parks by fencing, are surviving in a wild state, vulnerable to predators and the elements. It was getting dark as I drive into the park, and I thought I might not see any bison, but about 15 miles in, I drove into a herd of them.
This bull was as tall as me -- the pretty obvious dominant male of the herd, although .
the 'leader' of a bison herd is a cow. Big as this guy was, he was tiny compared to how large bison used to get before the US government tried to wipe them out in an effort to starve the Plains Indians. This guy weighed about a ton, but a large bull 200 years ago might have weighed 3,000 pounds.
This one was getting a bit frisky with me, and sent me scuttling around the side of my truck for safety a few times. I'm pretty cautious around these guys; I never left the side of my truck and tried to keep 'some truck' between me and them at all times. None of them took any threatening postures or anything, I just try to be safe.
More to come in the next few days; I'm leaving North Dakota this morning.