This morning I am reminded of a wonderful road trip I made with my friend Melanie, who wanted to see some American bison, better known as buffalo, in the wild. We talked about it at a powwow here on the Eastern Shore and within a couple of weeks we were on the road for a 1600 mile trip that tested the limits of friendship and faith.
We brought along Melanie's two poodles: Cinder and Pebbles, who were the long and short of it to say the least. Cinder is a standard poodle, Pebbles a mini. They were good travelers, although Pebbles sometimes got nervous when Mom had to go to the facilities. I was pleasantly surprised we all got along so well. (Pebbles settled right down if I sang to her.)
Our destination was Rapid City in South Dakota, my brother lives there, and he was willing to put us up for a week while we explored the area. Guy was obviously not used to company, but he graciously allowed us the run of his house. The neighbors kept wolves, and the B1 bombers from the nearby air base boomed us out of bed each morning before even the dogs woke up, but it was a great base of operations while we explored Deadwood, Rushmore, Custer National Park and the various Indian reservations in the area.
The quest for buffalo did not go well. All of the buff at Custer had been put away for the winter, I spotted a few of what looked like cross-bred beefalo cattle outside Rapid, but the only other buffalo we found were in burgers and pasties - a hot-pocket sort of thing stuffed with a savory meat filling. They were both mouth-watering delicious, but not at all satisfying for a gal who wanted to see some of the beasts up close and personal.
As you can see from the photo I posted, we did finally find some buffalo when we turned around to come home and I spotted a big herd of buffalo somewhere near Sioux Falls just as we were leaving S.Dakota. By that time, we were both wondering if this was the land where the buffalo roam ... when the real question was where.
I enjoyed that trip, and I learned a lot. The badlands were bleak and troubling, the reservations heart-rending, the historical areas, over commercialized -- but the buffalo is still out there and the herds are being managed by educated farmers dedicated to preserving this magnificient species. We learned that when buffalo are harvested for the food industry, every part is used just as they were when they thrived from sea to shining sea. It did my heart good to know that the buffalo still roam and that if we search hard enough, they will be there for generations to come.
Keep on the sunny side,
PS: Melanie and I are still friends, and the dogs still like to hear me sing. "Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam . . . "