Monday, June 09, 2008

Back to Custer

I figured I had better get to the Black Hills before they are completely overrun by tourists for the rest of the summer, so I embarked today. On the way I took a short detour north of I-90 near Quinn to check out a raptor nest near the road that I spotted a few months ago. There is a young raptor in the nest, but it didn't sit up to provide a good view and there were no adults in the area. My guess is it's a golden eagle, but I could be wrong.

I arrived at Custer State Park at 4:00, which left plenty of time to drive some of the back roads before dark. The park and South Dakota National Guard are hosting 4,000 soldiers from various units for two weeks, and some of the usually deserted back country spots are occupied. Most of the gravel roads have a good surface but are very narrow. I came across a military truck sitting at about a 30 degree angle with the two right wheels dangling over the ditch. And two despondent-looking soldiers trying to figure out how to get it back on the road.

The sarge (I'm guessing) said they had to swerve to avoid deer crossing the road, and asked if I would take the private (I'm guessing) back to the nearby camp to get help. The front seat of my car was jammed with camera gear and a cooler, so the private had to ride in the back. As we approached the crest of a hill, he said, "Here is fine." I was confused as to why he wanted to get out there so I continued on over the hill, then saw the camp about a quarter mile further on. Apparently the GI didn't want his buddies to see him rolling into camp in the back of an old Camry, so he hopped out there and started jogging toward camp as if he had run the three miles. Remember Rosie Ruiz?

Anyway, when I wasn't on military transport duty I managed to get this shot of pronghorn twins and mom. And I saw a rainbow. Click on the images for larger versions.

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