Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Holy Cow! (or Bison!)

O.M.G.!!  I wanted to take a drive up to the Tallgrass Prairie today.  I wanted to go because this is probably the last free day I'll have for a while after I head back to Afton Station four days a week.   So, I invited Ron M. to go along, and he agreed.  It was a rather incredible trip.   The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is the largest protected remnant of tallgrass prairie left on earth.   Its 39,000 acres is home to approximately 3,000 head of bison.  I go there often when I need to get away alone and be where there isn't a human being for miles and miles in all directions.

But today was extraordinary!   At one point, near the end of our travels through the Prairie preserve, we became entirely surrounded by bison.  A herd of several  hundred approached our road and, determined to cross to the other side, blocked the road both in front of us and behind us.  Were we frightened?  Not in the slightest!  Bison don't mind humans if you leave them alone, which of course we did, and eventually we crept forward and gently "herded" them out of the way.  It's their land, after all, not ours.  Had we not done that, we might still be there. It was thrilling, to say the least.  The only moment of pause I had was when we wondered if one of the bisons might mistake my brown, hump-backed car for a member of the opposite sex and attempt to climb aboard.  They were that close, and we had to keep the windows rolled up or they might  have stuck their heads in -- their HUGE heads!

I was taking short movies with my cell phone and Ron was doing the same with my camera, but I haven't figured out yet how to put them here on the blog.  Hopefully, I'll have one tomorrow. Meanwhile, here are a few photos, but they don't really tell the whole story.

 Here are a few more photos from just outside the Conservancy.   Oil wells dot the rolling country in the Osage Hills.

 The Tallgrass Prairie is made up of both donated and purchased land in northern Oklahoma.  This is the original ranch house on the property, and near it is a small gift shop and interpretive center.  Other than that, there's nothing to remind a visitor that he is in 21st century America.
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Susan Yates said...

You Lucky Thing, you! When Debbie, Matt, and I were there in October the buffalo had been rounded up for annual checkups and we could only see them penned far, far from the road. The very friendly and knowledgeable docents in the interpretive center must have given us an hour of their time (I think late October is off-season for buffalo hunting tourists) and the gift shop lady, who is a cousin of Ben Johnson, Jr.(actor) and niece of Ben, Sr. (foreman of the ranch years ago) took us on a private tour of the ranch house that looks deceptively modern (per your photo)though it was built 90 years ago. We had a lovely morning in the Tallgrass Prairie, even though we didn't get close to a buffalo and because of the drought, didn't see any of the famously tall grass. We did, however, get vert close to some buffalo that afternoon at Pawnee Bill's Ranch.

Trevor Hilton said...

Driving across Highway 60 through Osage County, I don't think I've ever seen more of NOTHING in one place in my life. I feel as if I'm in a John Wayne movie.

Laurel said...

In October and November they round up the bison for inoculations and DNA testing. The only time I ever went up there and saw no bison was the first week of November. I've always been lucky, and I do drive up there frequently. I agree that the ranch house isn't exactly what what one would expect, but the interior is a bit more in keeping with the early 20th century.

Laurel said...

I love Hwy. 60 in Osage County! One of my very favorites. I love the wide open spaces and feeling of being the only soul left on earth.

DennyG said...

I definitely enjoyed my visit, at your suggestion, to Tallgrass Prairie a couple of years ago. I didn't get surrounded by bison but I did see quite a few and can understand your feelings about the place.