The Adventure Continues…
Are you wandering In Love?
“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”
― Martin Buber
One of the highlights of going to Traverse City as a child was getting the chance to see the bison along US-31. As the car descent down the hill, my sister and I would look out the passenger side of the car to see the magnificent animals at, what we have always called, the buffalo farm.
It’s no different as an adult. I’m curious and respectful of these large, majestic creatures.
In November, I was blessed to find a camp site in a neighboring state park a short (long to others) distance from Caprock Canyons State Park outside Quilaque, Texas. After my experience at Palo Duro Canyon State Park two years ago, I was thrilled with the opportunity to wander within the corridors of another canyon. Seeing a herd of bison would be, I thought, icing on the cake.
I prepped food for the trip, enjoyed a huge breakfast, and gassed up the truck for the drive. I cranked up the tunes and after two hours of singing, driver’s seat dancing and keeping the beat on the steering wheel, I decided I’d rather listen to the tires rotate on the road. Willie James just watched me. I really don’t wanna know what he was thinking.
We arrived close to noon. I went into the Visitor’s Center, aquired my day pass, and was instructed to stay at least 50 yards away from the bison (and additional stay-safe information).
I thought, Of course! I’ve seen enough YouTubes of buffalo tossing people in the air. The last thing I wanted was to go home punctured or have anything happen to Willie James, my year old Chiweenie.
I cannot explain what it is like to arrive inside the canyon better than what is written on the hiking trail map: “Hay sierras debajo de los llanos” (there are mountains below the plains) was a common phrase used by early Mexican travelers who crossed the area. So very true.
Once surrounded by the canyon of the dark reddish orange landscape, you loose the sense you drove down into the area while looking up at the mountainous rock formations and steep grades rising above. Willie James and I hiked approximately a half mile out the North Prong Spur before turning around and heading back to the truck. With the short amount of time I had at the park, I wanted to ensure I was able explore as much as possible.
I could feel the natives, the ancestors of the land, observing us on the trail from their ground level, yet hidden in sight, location. It felt comforting to know we were welcomed home, guided, and protected. Anytime I’ve been in the Gila Mountains and Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico, I felt the ancestors watching from their high mountain perch. They guided and protected Willie James and I as we wandered their sacred lands. It was interesting to feel the two different observation points.
We went to the South Prong trail at the end of the five mile long main (and only) road inside the park. It ended as a tent camping area and the trailhead. I’d need a couple of weeks at the park to wander the twenty-five miles of hiking trails.
It’s very obvious the bison roam free in the 15,000 acre state park. On this particular trail, the pooh appeared fresher with a hint of aromatic essence. The keys dangling from my belt hoop offered enough of a warning noise to whatever creatures lurked in the brush that we were heading in this direction. I’d like to think the clanking keys are a deterrent versus a dinner bell, if you know what I mean. Willie James walked at his usual pace and he didn’t seem distracted, yet something kept me from wanting to go further than the mile marker. I was on alert, scanning my surroundings and paying attention to my dog’s reaction to the environment. He is a fearless guardian; he’s proven that many times. When we reached the truck, I was grateful not to encounter a bison. Visions of people being tossed into the air encouraged my imagination.
We were on our return trip back to the entrance, I asked, “If we’re to see the bison do what bison do, let us see them safely.” I turned down the drive to another tent camping area, rounded the corner and encountered a herd of bison in the parking lot area. I stopped and put the truck in reverse with my foot on the break. The largest male did not move, nor take his gaze off of me. A younger male who was grazing moseyed in my direction. He was unconcerned of my presence. I let off the brake a bit and idled back a short distance so not to have him behind me and cut off my exit in case something bad happened with the alpha male. The male alongside my truck never flinched, looked up or showed any signs of distress. The alpha must have sensed I was nonthreatening; he relaxed and began grazing as well.
A couple dozen photographs were added to my cellphone. It was incredible to sit and watch them interact with each other. Eventually they wandered out of the parking spaces, so I moved to the other end of the loop so they could get past me on the narrow strip of pavement. I sensed I was in their way.
A large calf scratched its neck on the sign informing camping guest what campsite numbers were located in the loop, and not to feed or approach the bison.
Parked, with my only exit in front of me, I grabbed my lunch and ate. Hours passed within the literal half hour I spent with this herd. The messages I received were powerful. It’s amazing the wisdom we acknowledge when we are in a state of observance. These big, beautiful beasts showed me patience, they posses a survivor essence and remind us we, too, can survive boldly. I was reminded to stand my ground, observe, don’t take reckless action and upset the herd, and there is grand power deep within our own knowingness. And, as I write this reflection, another message channeled in: the innocent eyes may have seen great injustice, wander in love.
Isn’t that a grand approach to life. With all the chaos, fear, and hatred being promoted in the news and in social media, it makes me wonder, “What would society be like if we chose to wander boldly in love?”
Captured moments along the way…
Explore the adventures that got me here…
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