Friday, June 11, 2010

Westward Ho!

First thing this morning we stopped at a small gas station where there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever of life - except for the gas pumps themselves which woke up upon receiving a credit card. We pumped gas and cleaned bug-butter from the windshield without hearing a single human sound (other than our own).

Only birds were out and about, singing and chirping. I could handle this. It's so peaceful!

There was also one of those lit-up signs at the gas station that announce the current temperature -- in this case, 63 degrees! I felt like doing a happy dance. All that heat and humidity now seems to be behind us. Yes!

Then, we continued our trek West.

West of Wall, South Dakota you get into more mountainous terrain and begin climbing in elevation:

I think cows make lovely models, don't you? They are so placid and nice. They also look very striking against the vivid green of the grass.

In the western, more mountainous part of the state, you begin to notice more evidence of human habitation - which increases as you continue along. We speculated that it was probably due to the availability of water.

At the higher elevations, we also begin to see red rocks in the mountains:

However, my little red-wing blackbird friends were no longer my constant roadside companions once we went to elevation in the mountains. I missed them.

But we did encounter one very strange and noisy little bird just outside the Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore information center:

She did not run (or fly) as I approached, but she did make a huge racket. At first we thought she might be begging for food. But as I approached a little closer (not as close as the photo, of course, which was on zoom) she began to flutter her wings and spread her tail:

At this point I was not convinced that she wasn't a begging baby. But then, I stepped yet another step closer and she put on quite a show for me:

She moved out onto the sidewalk and pretended to be wounded. She flapped her wings oddly as though one was broken and she laid nearly on the concrete. At this point, I decided she was a mom with babies somewhere nearby and I backed away and apologized and told her she was a beautiful lady.

I'm still not sure what kind of bird she was. There were other birds there like her and we saw none of them fly. They just walked in little quick spurts - like some kind of water bird.

Also just outside the door of the Information Center were lilac bushes and Oh My! They nearly knocked you out with their heavenly scent:

Before crossing into Wyoming, I managed to find one very old-fashioned water tower:

It appears the local teenagers, having nothing better to do, gave this one a coat of graffiti.

We did, indeed, know the heat was behind us when we stopped for lunch in Wyoming and had to don jackets. Mountains are like that. Yep. They are.

All day we drove under angry-looking skies:

Even though it never actually rained, at one point there was mist which managed to goof up the focus on my camera and ruin the ONE good shot I had at Devil's Tower waaaaaay waaaaay off many miles in the distance:

Dang it! But not to worry, we are already talking about returning to Western South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana for a real sight-seeing trip (maybe next summer). Anyone want to make it a caravan? ;o)

Driving on through the Northeast corner of Wyoming, we discovered that the folks in Wyoming have their fingers in the black gooey stuff:

A lot of fingers in the black, gooey stuff, apparently. We saw many oil wells pumping away as we passed.

Still and all... Wyoming has some gorgeous countryside:

Even those angry clouds couldn't take away from the beauty of it:

We did manage to find a little humor however, in an old Water Tower that doesn't seem to "tower" at all:

It's just there on the hill, kind of resting on its ... er... laurels. ;o)
Perhaps it was already high enough to generate the pressure needed for the folks living below.

We also noticed these "pimple"-like mounds that dotted the high plains of Wyoming:

These strange mounds just rise up without explanation from the rather flat ground surrounding them. There were many of them at one point. They appear almost artificial and out of place in their surroundings. I'm still wondering what caused them.

I wanted to note, before we leave South Dakota and Wyoming, that the overwhelming majority of the dwellings we saw were manufactured. We speculated that it was probably much more cost-effective to have them made elsewhere and then brought in to these rather remote communities than to have them built on site.

And then, before we knew it:

We found ourselves in Montana, driving through the Crow Indian Reservation.

Beautiful, beautiful land.

That's my story....



fieldagentxx said...

creekboy says to tell you that's a kildeer distracting you from her babies.

Brian Miller said...

have i told you yet how jeaolous i am? this would be an amazing the pics and little nuances you bring out...

AngelMay said...

Thanks agentxx! She's now on my list of "fave" birds.

Brian: Don't be jealous. You can do it, too. At least I hope you will one day. :)

Janice said...

Entertaining pictures, as usual. That little kildeer is so cute and clever.

Sandra Leigh said...

Wow. You are making tracks! You'll be home before you know it - but be warned. The temperature here on the island has shot up to 21C today - about 70F - and we're all happy about that, but you might find it a little toasty. ;>)

I'm glad you got to meet a kildeer. They are charming, aren't they?