Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Road Trip 2017 - Part 1

Hey, let's take 14 days, drive 4500km, get a hike in almost every day, and see cool stuff!

That was pretty much the plan for a trip Alyssa and I executed a couple of weeks ago.  She had finished a contract in Medicine Hat, Alberta, the following week I had booked us into a week stay in the Great Smoky Mountains, we live in Kitchener...only one way to go about this!

Heading south from Regina we spotted many a raptor (and a Snowy Owl) on the endless telephone poles we passed.  We crossed the border at North Portal, SK.  North Dakota was, for the most part cropland and the odd coulee, but our intention was to put km's under the wheels.

We arrived at our first night stop, Sioux Falls, SD.  Checked into a Super 8 which may have been where Alyssa's credit card was compromised by a nice fellow with "LOCO" tattooed on his knuckles, oh well, those 2 charges of $200 to a Sioux Falls Walmart probably made someone happy.  Late in the evening we made our way to J.R. Beers where I was happy to try a 'Top 10 beers in America'.

The next morning I was eager to hit the road Broken Kettle Grasslands we go!  This impressive site is managed by the NCC and is Iowa's largest prairie.  The 3000 acres of Leoss Hills beauty is home to a herd of about 175 Bison.

Not a bad view for a lunch break.

And hey, it's not everyday you see Bison droppings.

We proceeded to the nearby Five Ridge Prairie which has a few trails to hike.  The landscape was a continuation of Broken Kettle with slopes of tallgrass prairie interspersed with treed valleys.
Alyssa watching Bluebirds

Soapweed Yucca (Yucca glauca)
We passed a swampy area with a chorus of Boreal Chorus Frog calling.

Prairie Clover remnants, not much to look at plant-wise in early April!
Not much to look at except for Prairie Crocus (Pulsatilla patens), the one wildflower I wanted to see during our time in the Dakotas.  Hundreds of these stout wildflowers, also known as Pasqueflower, peek up from the grassy thatch.

We made it to Kansas City that night, had outstanding short rib at a BBQ spot, and prepared for our drive the next day to the famed Snake Road in Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois.

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