Showing posts from July, 2012

Badlands National Park

Three years ago I reached the 50th consecutive year of visiting Badlands National Park.  I have backpacked it in every month, explored it in every season, come with family, friends, tour groups, and college classes.  I was proud.  So I mentioned to the ranger at the Visitor Center - this personal fact.  He said, "that's nice."  I was deflated.  I have not been back for two years, but this trip with the twin grandsons was enough to reignite the passion I have for this remote and challenging land.

The prairie birds in the surrounding grasslands are enough to entertain me. I loved the western kingbirds, Lark buntings, Upland sandpipers and Western Meadowlarks of the Buffalo National Grassland, but most fun for the grandsons was the common Killdeer and its little fluffy, long legged offspring.

We spent a long time listening to and observing the behavior of the grassland birds.  This group is reduced in population all over the country so it is a pleasure to find them as they…

Pipestone National Monument

Our trip west with grandson's Aren and Ryan Carlson would take us to many wonderful National Parks and Monuments and the first, though lesser know was Pipestone - a small Monument in SW Minnesota. Here the focus is on the Native Americans who frequented this site for generations and the stone that drew them.  It is also an example of prairie habitat.

This place was celebrated in a classic painting by the artist Catlin and showed the quarrying of pipestone - which unfortunately was then given the name catlinite - ridiculous even though we like Catlin's work.

The important thing about this site is that it is still a place where Indians come to collect the soft claystone for creating pipes and other pieces of art. There is usually a Native artisan in residence carving within the visitor center.  A very good set of displays to explore the geologic story of the land and the Indian's connection with it.  Outside there are the active pits and a paved trail that leads you throu…