Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Custer State Park - The Wildlife Loop

Roger here...  You may be wondering what you are seeing in the above picture.  Is it a cave?  A blurry geological formation?  Another tunnel?  One of my sunset pictures?             

Actually, it is the head (specifically the teeth) of a wild burro inside our car searching to see if we had any more apples.

What a great morning we had.  Our sole itinerary was a slow drive through the eighteen-mile wildlife loop through the southern half of Custer State Park. 

 We took both dogs with us, anticipating a hike through the prairie.  

Soon after turning onto the loop we encountered a 
pronghorn.  Bandido let it be known through growling and low- volume "woofs" that he would not allow the pronghorn to hijack our car.

A few miles later, we drove by another pronghorn that was grazing within a few feet of the car.  Pretty animals.  More "woofing."

Bandido's machoism soon faded.  We rounded a corner and found ourselves in the midst of a herd of wild burros.  

Bandido quickly became Mr. Chicken Dog when the burros approached the car and begged for food.

Bandido here... "Hey guys.  Don't worry about me.  I'll just sit here in the middle of the back seat until we move on.  I bet mom and dad brought a bag of apples or something for you to nibble on.  No problem for me!"

I have to say that this was the most fun I have had in a long time, and I have been having a lot of fun lately.  We did indeed bring a bag of apples, anticipating some good times with the burros.  They did not disappoint.  Whenever we stopped the car, they quietly pushed their heads through the open windows, sometimes startling us because they were so quiet.  Dianne hooted (I refer to it as the Grandma Robison hoot) more than once, when burros nudged her, demanding another apple.  We went through a dozen apples in about ten minutes.  By the way, Chaplin stayed frozen in his normal car-traveling position, his head between Dianne and me with body on the floor of the back seat.

Bandido here...  "Hey dad, why are you petting that burro?  He looks like an ass to me.  Not that I care. I'll just sit here, quietly, in the middle of the back seat."

Dianne could not resist taking a couple of shots of the little ones.

Time to move on...  A few miles down the road we encountered a prairie dog colony.  Bandido regained his courage and woofed at the little buggers every time they scampered along the prairie.  Dianne went into the field, trying to get a good picture -- a difficult task.  Every time she approached camera range, they dove into their burrows.  She did get one decent shot -- not sure how.

When we arrived at the trailhead for the three-mile loop hike, we discovered a warning sign.  Beware of ticks.  NO THANKS.  We took the dogs on a long walk on a paved (non-tick) path when we returned to the campground. 

Just before exiting the wildlife loop, we hit the mother lode -- more buffalo (bison) than I have ever seen at one time.  Hundreds of them on both sides (and the middle) of the road.

Bandido here... It was fun trying to intimidate the prairie dogs.  However, these big cows (buffalo/bison) are the biggest animals I have ever seen, and they are right next to the car.  I'll just sit quietly in the center of the back seat."

Hard to decide which pictures to show.  Here are a few.

Bandido here...  Well, I am back at the campsite now and very happy to be chasing the occasional robin that gets too close to our motor home.  Not sure I want to see any more of those hairy, monster cows.

The pet pictures of the day shows Chaplin resting on my lap while Bandido guards the motor home.  


Mike and Terri said...

Wow -- cool pics of the wildlife!

Nancy and Bill said...

You are having so much fun!! What a terrific day!! Thanks for making us smile :o))

Gin and Syl said...

I enjoyed the wildlife, especially the burros. Thanks for sharing.