Up just in time to see the sunrise and start down the wildlife drive. The buffalo appeared almost immediately with a few roaming the hotel lawn, enjoying breakfast. What I was looking for was the big herd, just rounded up the day before in the southern portion of the park. While driving along the road white-tailed deer were grazing and the occasional lone buffalo. Then over a rise and a thousand buffalo appeared before me. These magnificent creatures slowly roaming the field in the morning light. Soon after I stopped the local ranchers started to round them up into a smaller area, causing the whole herd to rumble with enough force to shake the Earth. The buffalo were having no part in being rounding into an even smaller area so the stamped continued while I found my way to a nearby hilltop to take in all the action.
After running through several rolls of buffalo film I headed back into the Black Hills for some more twisty road fun and a chance encounter with five mountain sheep along the road. The were very helpful, balancing on the rocks for photographs. The next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. This is one I hadn't heard of, but sure glad I stopped. The scale of this monument is almost beyond belief. The entire Mt. Rushmore carving would fit within the head of Crazy Horse. The finished sculpture will of Crazy Horse, arm extended toward the Great Plains, riding a horse. Truly epic in scale.
Continuing, I went back to Mt. Rushmore to snap some day time photos before heading west into Wyoming and Devils Tower. On the road into Devils Tower lives another prairie dog town, even larger than the one at Badlands National Park. The chubby little prairie dogs didn't mind people stopping to chase after them with a big zoom lens. A sign along side the road said it best: Remember A fed prairie dog is a DEAD prairie dog!! A hawk began to circle and the prairie dogs all stood at attention, barking to alert their friends until the hawk flew away.
I was originally planning to drive across Wyoming, into Montana, and back down into Yellowstone today, but with all the sights to see the sun went down long before I reached the Montana border. A view of the famous Big Sky Country would have to wait until morning.
Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.
-- Cesare Pavese
Mileage Start: 1881.5 End: 2389.7 Day 4: 508.2 States South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana