then we were off on our grand adventure for the day.
our first stop was prairie dog town out on the preserve. prairie dog town never disappoints, in all the two times i've been there. which reminds me that we drove by some kind of spontaneous roadside prairie dog town on our way up there that friday. they were all just lined up on this ridge of dirt running parallel to us. up on hind legs with noses in the air.
so official prairie dog town is a tiny sea of dirt, pockmarked with tunnel openings. there are baby faces sticking out of these, making tiny squeaking noises, like a cat toy. which probably wouldn't bode well for them if a cat ever happened along. there are also adults kicking up dirt to expand their porches. every now and then, you'll see one work up the courage to hightail it next door.
there were also geese wandering around behind the fences, along with some errant tourists. violet was quite fond of these, the geese, though no amount of persuasion could convince her these were not ducks.
then it was money shot time. a herd of bison began approaching from across the yellow wildflower-dotted field. i counted about 25 adults and 7-9 calves. they just kept coming and coming and no photo i could take of them made it look like they were as close as they were. just like when you look in your side mirror. my camera did not register majesty.
for a second, i was about to have to herd children to the car when a couple began to tussle. but then they moved on. a couple showed off by taking dust baths. eventually, they made it past the fence line and were just standing there on the road with us. it was one of those moments where you look for that line between standing there in awe and picking up small children and running. i mean, bison are nothing to fool around with. those fuckers could crush a yugo like it's a paper cup without even trying.
and they all just stood there for a bit, staring at all of us, before they began to drift along their way. and so did we. it was time to finally find a trail in this place and get out on foot for a bit. we thought we were choosing a short trail (and by "we", i mean "brian"). i know that the length of a mile expands the more children you have with you. i think we were on one that was supposed to be about 1.5 miles. which is the equivalent of ten, when you factor in two children and an abundance of large rocks.
the children totally powered through. okay, violet powered through a little less. she was still intermittently grumpy and wanted up and down and up and down, sometimes simultaneously. no pleasing for half the journey.
we had some challenges trying to interpret the signage and i'm glad jason was there or we might very well still be out there trying to find our car. wailing and weeping. we were on the Bison Path, as evidenced by the plentiful amount of dung on the trail. it was a gorgeous day with blue skies and white clouds and pleasant temperatures. jason bemoaned the fact that nature is primarily composed of two colors (which apparently keeps him from going out into it very often) and i recommended that he remove his tinted sunglasses and behold the glory. it didn't happen. so i beheld enough glory for all of us. it was a landscape that changed frequently from lightly wooded with a creek, to grassy with faraway boulders, to a path made of rocks, to a lake bordered by treacherous sinkholes. about halfway through, we realized our path was going to skim a spot where two bison had decided to do their afternoon sunbathing and we had to hang out for a bit trying to decide just how close one could get to a bison without crossing a safety threshold and just how fast can one run with two small children should they miscalculate that boundary. we scooted by and they didn't even seem to notice us, despite the fact that this was the moment violet decided to start making a huge ruckus. they were like squirrels living in the middle of a city square. the kind that'll come sit on your leg no matter how much you try to shoo them off. except the bison didn't actually try to sit on our legs, thank god.
i grew a little nervous during the rocky path portions, fearing that brian would misstep and slide face down on our baby. or, that i would. much like a bison sitting on your lap, it never happened.
i was surprised by just how few people we encountered while out there and tried to suppress any fear that we really would be lost forever. i began to grow increasingly weary and was quite ready to find the car. i think we went about 10 minutes too long. i was having to dig for nibblets in my bag to keep violet from completely exploding. but we made it. i think next time it would be ideal to hike a little and then sit for lunch and let the kids explore a small area. that's really more a child's speed. they aren't so big on going going going and would rather sit in the grass and explore a space the size of one square yard.
we wound up at the visitor's center, after always driving by it saying we should really go there sometime. we figured they'd have a place to urinate. they did. it was right next to the dead bison diorama. oddly enough, they had nowhere to picnic, so we sat on benches by the carport thing. and then we bid jason adieu and hit the highway home. there were no major explosions of bodily fluids from cats, for once. it helped that ttyki was boarded and juana and ozzy were in bathroom jail. it's refreshing to come home from a weekend trip and not have feces and urine all over your bed. living like royalty over here.
violet winning at getting to hold the suitcase handle. kids. the things they fight over.
camouflaged prairie dogs (in prairie dog feces town). non-camouflaged child.
jason and the bison! oliver and the bison!
violet and the geese!
i was there too!
we're zoomed in here, but this is about how it looked in reality.
oliver gets the best time out spots on vacation.
the beginning of bison trail. violet found her pockets. and rocks. and her toe digging in dirt.
brian looking angry in a field of rocks.
really. these bison were closer than they looked. i was there with the danger bison! that's our trail coming up out of my head. my head was a trail marker.
babies being transported down rocky paths. the dammed lake.
it was at this point i was prepared to leave children behind and to their own devices. they had a box of raisins.
there were xmas trees under the water next to the treacherous sink holes.
reclining on a rock?
the epitome of slowly but surely.
we found them again on our way out.
lunchtime. yes, there are photos of lunchtime.
i swear i remember the clouds doing this exact same thing on the way home the last time we visited. however, my memory is a funny place. there is also the most magical place ever on the highway. a glass factory. the pictures don't do it justice.
it was hell or high water regarding the decision to stop for coffee this time. violet played with a finger puppet in the meantime. yes, there are photos of violet playing with a finger puppet in the drive thru.