One of the stops on our hike was the fossil exhibit, and we were fortunate to find Volunteer Ranger Paul giving a fascinating talk on the animals that once lived here which are now fossils. He noted that only mammals are found in these geologic formations; they came much later than the dinosaurs found elsewhere in the west and southwest.
In fact, the second subtitle of today's blog relates to a fossil, although one might think of a delicious, double stuffed chocolate cookie with with cream filling... and that was indeed my first thought when Paul started talking about a prehistoric mammal called an Oreodont, a sheep-sized grazing critter back millions of years ago that lived here in South Dakota. He held out the jawbone of an Oreodont; I think the black stuff on the rear molars must have been cookie residue...
One of the best parts about traveling is meeting new people. Just in Badlands National Park, we met several folks we'd have loved to have gotten to know better, but alas, time was short, and we were all going in different directions... First, Bruce and Lavette stopped to pet Rudy and Gretchen. Bruce is a retired nuclear electronics technician and Limited Duty Officer (LDO), a sub-mariner with 30 years aboard several subs. He has a great sense of humor, unusual for a "nuke", but I think Lavette has mellowed him over the years; her job as a Navy wife is one of the hardest in the world (especially when you're married to a character like Bruce). We were amazed to find that we actually had mutual acquaintances, a couple in Tampa with two Dachshunds named Tank and Rambo!
Our next stop was Mount Rushmore, which neither of us had visited before. This iconic sculpture in granite displays the heads of four presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. It was an amazing experience, and it was notable that most of the tourists there were foreigners.
Our campground was in Custer State Park, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was a relatively short trip, and we had time for a walk before dinner. Here is MLB with beautiful Legion Lake behind her.
What was really surprising was that an hour later, as I was washing up dinner dishes, who should come strolling through our campground but those same seven bison... they did not hang around for dessert, thank goodness.