- Where are the buffalo?
- Where am I on this map? And, the worst one,
- What will I see?
The first one is a moving target. Hey, these are wild animals that eat grass. A lot of grass. Up to 30 pounds of grass per day per animal. They weigh between 500 and 2,000 pounds, so they pretty much go where they want, when they want, including through fences designed to keep them in certain areas of the park. Some days the herdsman don’t even know where they are. I’m not sure where 400 buffalo can hide, but they manage to stay out of view quite a bit. On days like that about the only buffalo to be seen are the lone bulls hanging out by the side of the road. And no, you cannot pet the buffalo. Or feed them. Or safely get within 100 yards of them.
And what is the difference between a buffalo and a bison? Technically the animals we have here are bison, in North America they are commonly referred to as buffalo, but they are not buffalo. But I digress.
Number 2. Yes, it is very easy to get disoriented here. There are no straight roads and you can’t drive 60 miles an hour. I have traveled around quite a bit and know how hard it can be to keep my bearings sometimes, especially when trying to use GPS in my cell phone or on my iPad. It’s sad to see so many people looking down at their device when they could be looking up. Notice your surroundings, read road signs, learn to read a map. Learn to pull over and check your direction when you sense you aren’t going the right way. For example, you just drove 18 miles in the wrong direction for 45 minutes when where you wanted to go was only 10 miles in the other direction and was 20 minutes away. I admit, I have walked or driven in the direction I didn’t wish to go in, only to find that I have to turn around, but I usually figure it out pretty quickly.
There is no fast way to anywhere, and there are no short cuts. Mr. Peter Norbeck, the designer of the roads here, got his wish. To get people to slow down and enjoy the wilderness. I don’t think he anticipated people living the fast pace that we have now. Where they want to drive to a scenic spot, get out of their car, take their picture and that is their experience in the park.
And number 3. What a subjective question. I don’t know what you will see. How can I tell you what you will see? What do you want to see? If you put down your phone you might see some bison. Or deer, wild turkeys, prairie dogs, pronghorns, bison calves, marmots, big horn ship, a cougar or maybe some elk.
How about some prairie wildflowers, Ponderosa pine, Burr oak, willows and learn to identify the different types of grasses growing here. Maybe you’ll see the clouds gathering into a thunderstorm, or waves of amber seed heads flowing in the breeze, like a green sea lapping towards the shore. What do you want to see? Sometimes I’ll say, “the bounty of nature’s beauty,” only to be met with a blank stare, like I just said something in a foreign language.
|how can I describe this view to someone who has never seen it?|
On one hand I am glad for these narrow windy roads through this park. It is suitable for people who might not be able to get out and hike in the forest, or up to the top of Black Elk Peak, to see the trees, to see wild animals in their natural habitat. On the other hand, I wish people would not be in such a hurry to just drive through and take selfies for their Instagram account. Take a few extra minutes to stop and listen to the creek rolling over rocks, hear the crickets as they rustle in the pines, notice the slight movement in the woods that might be a deer or an elk.