Monday, June 17, 2013

Back to the Blackhills

It is the peak of springtime here; lilacs, iris and many wildflowers are blooming. Hard to imagine we started seeing spring a couple of months ago in Texas!  On Saturday, just outside of  Custer State Park, we were treated to the sight of a field of purple wildflowers, unfortunately I never found out what they were!
In the park we drove on the Wildlife Loop road, hoping perhaps to get a glimpse of some bison, deer, or elk.  We saw many herds of buffalo, which at this time of year are calving.  The park keeps an average of 1500 head of North American bison.  Each year during roundup the size and the structure of the herd is adjusted according to predicted availability of grassland forage.
We also saw a pronghorn with her baby.  Pronghorn are commonly  referred to as antelope, but the true antelope are in Africa.  Pronghorn are the fastest land animal in North America.
 Also, it was exciting for us to see a buck- which we have never seen before.  The proonghorn was so named because of his his large pronged horns. 
Our next stop on Saturday was at Wind Cave National Park.  John and I have toured many caves, but John wanted to see this particular cave because it is known for having the most boxwork formations of any known cave.  This is a criss-cross pattern of thin crystalline fins projecting from the ceilings, giving the appearance of honeycombs or post-office boxes.  The cave is mostly dry and contains very few formations built by dripping water such as stalactites or stalagmites.
The cave was discovered in 1881 by a man who felt a blast of cold air flowing out of the earth- it was strong enough to blow his hat off.  Wind Cave was so named for the natural breezes which blow in and out of the entrance. Winds of more than 70 mph have been clocked in the walk-in entrance, we also could hear the wind blowing through the cave as the door was opened.  We put in a long day on Saturday and I have more to share with you,  I will complete that story in my next posting.

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