When you are on the road, Saturday is fun day. Sundays you normally have to move on to your next destination, and that is really considered work, but Saturdays’, well they are when you get to play. You swear you are gonna sleep late, but when you are in a strange place and the sun comes blaring thru your window the anticipation of being able to go out and play, well the excitement just drives you upward. You become a kid again. Not that you ever really stopped, but when you are away from home, you can act up and nobody will tell on you. So much to do but so little time. First you do a little research. Do I want to expand my knowledge and find the local historic sites? Broaden my cultural outlook and take in an art gallery? Amplify my philosophical being by attending some transcendental lecture? Or since I am out here in the west, do I just want to go find some buffalo? Yeah, thats the ticket, go look for buffalo..we southerners think out of the box when we travel and since you just can’t find a good buffalo in South Carolina, I figured I had a mission.
Note to all, there is no heading in the Yellow Pages for Buffalo. Just thought you would want to know. However, when you are on the road, you have the wealth of information right at your fingertips with the steadfast Front Desk Clerk. They know everything. Everything that is important, at least when you travel. If you are nice to them they will tell you the secrets of the area, if you are rude, uppity, or snooty to them, they will send you on some pretty wild goose chases. I think that Front Desk people are related to New York cab drivers. Piss them off and you are in for the ride of your life. Anyway, having been in the hotel business for more years than I wish to count, I know how to suck up to those folks. Sure nuff, when I said I wanted to find some buffalo, it got a big smile, and simple directions and we were ready to go. Now I’ll admit there was some trepidation on the part of my “Heart” but being the good-natured person that he is, he relented and we grabbed the camera and headed out.
From where we are to where buffalo live, well surprisingly enough, it wasn’t far. A beautiful island out in the Great Salt Lake. Who’d of thunk it?, as we say. Driving on a via duc across the lake is simply breathtaking. Mountain peaks surround you reaching for the sky and the Salt Lake disappears into the horizon. No wonder they use to believe the world was flat. I swear it looks as if you would drive over the edge where the water meets the sky. Somewhat intimidating. Out in front of you is this island, covered in sage brush, and grasses and rocks. They say there are coyotes, prong horn sheep , skunk, wildcat and of course the bison we have come to see. Excitement is building, well at least on my side of the car.
We came to the way station to pay our fee to get onto the island, and the ranger takes our money and says, ” enjoy, they are having a fat check today.” The “Heart” and I looked at each other. Did he say “FAT CHECK”? Dear God, were we going to be poked and prodded out here in the middle of nowhere? Was this a state park, or a commune full of “weight watcher” fanatics? Driving forward with some trepidation, it finally comes to us (after seeing the sign) that this was round-up month and the corral was a mile down the road and the fat to be checked was on the buffalos. This wasn’t some weird western indoctrination we had to go thru, this fat checking, so there were sighs of relief from both sides of the car.
And then, there they were. Even before we got to the corrals. Buffalo. Grazing on the sides of the hills. Huge animals with birds on their backs. Up to 2,000 lbs, so the brochures says. They could put a mighty dent in my rental van. This ain’t Bush Gardens folks, this is up close and personal. Naturally, the buffs, both maxi and mini, could not have cared less that we were driving thru their range. They just looked at us nonchalantly, and kept on eating and sleeping and pooping, like the average wild buffalo do. Some what anti climatic, you say. Well, at least I saw what I came to see.
I think of today, well, it’s sorta like making a notch on your gun belt. I got to notch off something I had not done before on my belt. Actually, it felt pretty good.
I wondered while standing on one of the high slopes of that island, what would the pioneers have felt when they first laid eyes on this great lake and these beautiful mountains and the ancestors of these buffalo? They had been trekking across the country a good while to get here. Were they afraid? Were they in awe? Were they overwhelmed? Would they have been proud they had gotten as far as they had? I mean, I went looking for the great lake and the buffalo, but if you came upon them unexpectedly, what would you think?
I think we sometimes take for granted the things in our everyday lives. We should stop and take the time to be a kid more often, get out there and play, explore more places, be brave like the pioneers, reveal in the unexpected and enjoy it. I for one, well I need to look for buffalo more often.