May 16, 2018 Interior, South Dakota

Badlands Stormy Skies
Badlands Stormy Skies

A Couple Days Exploring Badlands National Park

Badlands Morning Color
Badlands Morning Color

I continue to rack up the miles in the poor old Prius driving the roads through the park.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors

The sun rises very early here on the eastern edge of the Mountain Time Zone, so I am out the door by 6AM and head west through the park with the sun at my back.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors

The colors are constantly changing depending on time of day and weather.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Sam Exploring the Badlands
Sam Exploring the Badlands

Sam is still active enough to want to accompany me out to spots to take photos, but is left in the dust by her new companion Pearl.

Badlands Stormy Skies
Badlands Stormy Skies

Stormy skies to the west change the feel of the landscape. Daytime temperatures have been in the high 80’s but the evenings cool down fast for comfortable sleeping.

Clouds Over the Badlands
Clouds Over the Badlands

Gorgeous cumulus clouds cast shadows on the landscape

Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep

I encounter a small group of Bighorn Rams each morning …

Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep

… and again as I return back to camp in the afternoon.

Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Bighorn Sheep
Badlands Prairie Dogs
Badlands Prairie Dogs

There are numerous Prairie Dog communities throughout the park and the surrounding  cattle grazing land.

Badlands Prairie Dogs
Badlands Prairie Dogs
Badlands Prairie Dog Lookout
Badlands Prairie Dog Lookout

Some of these communities must contain hundreds if not thousands of individuals.

Badlands Prairie Dog
Badlands Prairie Dog
Badlands Prairie Dog
Badlands Prairie Dog
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

If you scan these Prairie Dog “Towns” carefully with some binoculars, often you can spot a Burrowing Owl or two.

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

Shaky images taken at a very long distance.

Bison
A Formidable Obstacle in the Road

I have encountered a few Bison bulls, but have not seen any cows and calves.

Scratching Post
Scratching Post
Bison Portrait
Bison Portrait

I had hoped to do some boon docking at the site just south of the town of Wall when I leave here Friday, but the weather is calling for some nasty weather ( possibility of large hail with violent thunderstorms ) and the road accessing those sites can get too sloppy for my rig after heavy rains, so I will continue to head west to Yellowstone and hope I can find a place to stay.

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May 14, 2018 Interior, South Dakota

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Probably not necessary to put a name to this location as most people are likely to know where these shots were taken. I arrived here last night and settled in at the Badlands Interior Motel and Campground. I hated to stay in a commercial campground when the Badlands has one of the best boon docking areas that exist, but I had to order new Tow Dolly Basket Straps  ( used to tie down the Prius’ front tires to the tow dolly ) or risk dropping the car somewhere along the highway. And I had to have an address to have them shipped to and this was what I came up with.  They should be here Thursday and then perhaps I will move on to the boon docking area.

( Right clicking on any image will open a larger, sharper version of the photo in a new tab or window )

Badlands Peaks
Badlands Peaks
Badlands Peaks
Badlands Peaks

I was here many years ago and really don’t remember much about the park, so this is sort of a new experience for me.

Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors

First thing this morning I drove west on the park loop road and was blessed with some sun and blue skies to the west after two days of rain.

Yellow Hills
Yellow Hills

Pretty spectacular colors along the drive, made more so by the presence of green, lush grass, thanks to the unusual amount of rain this area has gotten this spring.

Yellow Hills
Yellow Hills
Badlands Colors
Badlands Colors
Yellow Hills
Yellow Hills
Badlands Bighorns
Badlands Bighorns

I found some Bighorn Sheep not far from the road, some of then kind enough to settle in amongst some flowers.

Badlands Bighorns
Badlands Bighorns
Badlands Bighorns
Badlands Bighorns
Badlands Bighorns
Badlands Bighorns

At the end of the loop road, I drove the nine miles in to check out the changes at Wall Drug. What I remembered as an all but stand alone tourist trap years ago, is now surrounded by commercial development.

Because of the recent rains, some of the drives in the park are gated closed, most likely impassably muddy. Hope they dry out quick! More on the Badlands coming … I hope.

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May 10, 2018 North Platte, Nebraska

Abandoned Kansas Farm
Abandoned Kansas Farm

Poking Around Kansas and Nebraska

Old Kansas Barns

Over the past few weeks I have racked up a lot of miles in the Prius traveling the dusty back roads of Kansas and Nebraska searching for picturesque old barns and farmsteads.

Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse
Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse

Unfortunately, what I have discovered is that most of the old wooden barns have long since gone the way of the dodo bird. Most are just piles of rubble and all of them have been replaced with modern metal buildings, very functional, but surely lacking the aesthetics of the old wooden structures.

Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse
Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse

Abandoned farmhouses dot the landscape out here and I always wonder exactly what caused the owners to leave these these buildings to the elements.

Nebraska Barn
Nebraska Barn
Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse
Abandoned Nebraska Farmhouse

I have not taken any images of the main streets of the many tiny towns you encounter along the back roads here for it is indeed a sad sight to see. The old brick or stone buildings are all vacant and most are crumbling, but the small towns probably lack the resources to demolish them. Needless to say, the general stores and small restaurants and hotels that supported these farming communities have all fallen victim to “progress”.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

Wildlife Along the Backroads

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

Unfortunately, I have encountered very little in the way of wildlife in my recent travels …

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

… a Red-tailed Hawk or two, a few wild Turkeys and Ring-necked Pheasants strolling the remains of the harvested cornfields ( of which there are  a few acres devoted to that crop in Nebraska ) …

Nebraska Does
Nebraska Does

… and here and there I have encountered a few White-tailed deer, does only, no fawns seen yet.

Nebraska Sandhills
Nebraska Sandhills

I have driven to check out the Nebraska Sandhills, a vast expanse of sand dunes, disguised with a thin covering of grasses.

Endless Nebraska Sandhills
Endless Nebraska Sandhills

These dunes seem to go on forever and must have been something for the early westbound settlers to traverse in their wagons. You can right click on this image to get a larger version to get a better sense of the vast expanse  of the these sandhills.

Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal

One day, while traveling between North Platte and McCook, Nebraska, I saw a beautiful herd of horses grazing in a pasture along the highway. When I noticed a large number of mares with fairly new foals amongst them, I had to stop for shots.

Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal

A youngster enjoying a roll around on a gorgeous spring afternoon.

Mare and Foal
Mare and Foal

The differences in coloring of the moms and the colts was kind of interesting.

Mares and Foals
Mares and Foals

Unfortunately, the majority of the mares with young walked away when I approached the fence to take my pictures, probably to protect the youngsters from any possible threat an unknown presence such as myself might cause. Or it could have been Pearl’s few barks of alarm from the Prius when she noticed these huge beasts just outside the windows of the car.

Mares and Foals
Mares and Foals

This were absolutely gorgeous animals, as if they were brushed and carefully groomed just for these photos. If you right click on the image above ( or any image in these blog posts for that matter ), it will open a larger image in a new window, and you will see what I mean.

Nebraska Horses
Nebraska Horses

I wish I could have gotten this lone white horse to position itself right next to one of the black ones, would have been a neat shot, but I waited and waited and this was the best I could get.

I am probably headed to the badlands of southwest South Dakota next, while I await the release of winter’s grip on Yellowstone NP. Snow is still falling there as of this post and some of the roads are still closed by snow. Hoping I can get there to see some early season bear activity, assuming I can get a spot in the campground at Mammoth Hot Springs, something I have not had any luck doing the last two times I have attempted to visit Yellowstone.

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April 6, 2018 Twin Points Campground, Skiatook, Oklahoma

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

Spring is Here at the Tulsa Botanical Garden

( But It Only Stayed A Day )

This post is for the nice folks back in New Hampshire, still playing with snowblowers and snow plows when you should be thinking spring. I was looking for a little visual relief from the bleak gray landscape here in Oklahoma, so I decided to visit the Tulsa Botanical Garden to see if there was any color to be found hereabouts.

Productive Land
Productive Land

Along the way to Tulsa I came across this scene, some VERY productive acreage, cattle grazing under wind turbines while hydrocarbons are being pulled from below ground. A goldmine for the fortunate party that owns this land.

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

Tulsa Botanical Garden

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

With a bit of blue sky showing, I decided to drive down to the outskirts of Tulsa ( you can just see a couple downtown high-rises in the upper right corner of the image above ) to check out the spring blooms at the Tulsa Botanical Garden.

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

All in all, a fairly spectacular display of spring bulbs, and with temperatures barely hitting 40 degrees, I pretty much had the place to myself, ideal for photography.

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

Blue skies gave way to clouds and, unfortunately fairly strong winds came up, making it all but impossible to shoot flowers that were now in constant motion.

However, before the winds came up and the sun disappeared, I did manage to cover most of the garden and got some nice shots of their wonderfully designed flower beds.

Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Pansies
Pansies
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden
Tulsa Botanical Garden

With temperatures forecast to drop to the low 20’s tonight, with the possibility of sleet and snow, the garden’s director told me I was lucky to get here when I did, because he assumed that the frigid conditions would take a toll on his gardens. I guess most of the country is suffering from this delayed Spring/ prolonged Winter, but here in Oklahoma, Spring was glorious, even if it did only last two days.

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