"Wherever I go and wherever I am, I find I should be somewhere else."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Trumpetting Successes of the Eighties

The Eighties called last week but unlike the 2014 Radioshack commercial, they didn't want their store back and in fact, they also didn't want me back.  To be honest, I didn't want to answer, and I don't want to go back but then they kept it was an odd week at the ranch to say the least.

Truth be told, my rare bird alert called, with a fan-tailed warbler in Arizona, and at first I couldn't go because...the airport was closed. ..and then my father in law had stroke, and  nowThursday is my daughter's 18th no Arizona for me before maybe Friday.

But while I was stuck, I had a bit of a flashback to the Eighties, on Friday as I noted, the STORM OF DOOM showed up and dumped more than a foot of snow out here on the snow we already had.  Minneapolis broke their April record of snow that was set way back in April 1983.  That was a snowy year as the suckers ran late and in March, my high school burnt, changing my life forever.  Honestly, it did.

On Sunday, in some sort of flashback, I went over to colleague Troy's house, and we watched "Valley Girl."  Yes, the 1983 classic.  Troy seems to have embraced 1980s cinema which I'd add, poor Troy.  Valley Girl grossed 18 million more than 7 times the cost of making it, so it was a commercial success, and after a wine, I was a good laugh.

Thirty years ago this week, 1988. back at Ripon College, I presented my Senior Seminar in Art History.  If you had guessed I was an Art History Major in'd have guessed WRONG.  So Why was I in a major's only class to present and provide a defense of an undergraduate thesis with a bunch of Senior Art Majors.  Technically I was thinking about being an art major, but in my sophomore year, my Drawing I prof. kept loosing my portfolios, I got an "A" after I was given an incomplete after I produced a receipt in a confrontation in her office to complain of her losing my semester of work.  I was on my way to the Dean.  I was not sure if I deserved an "A" but I had completed all of my assignments.  I had her in a corner for that class but I soon surmised that taking more art classes with her would jeopardize my college career.  I switched to an ecology second major and forgot about art.  Which wasn't good.  Thinking my 4 years of competitive speech would cover my fine arts requirement, I avoided the entire building like the plague.  It was the second day of my final semester in College when the Academic Dean sent for me.  They knew me from my days on student councils, I was good at finding loopholes.  They had come prepared with all the rules, policies, and everything.  It was like a legal briefing.  Forensics didn't count as I had not competed for credit the first semester of my freshman year, and the fact that I was going to nationals and the TA for speech didn't matter.  The rule required a full 4 years.  It was clear, I needed an art class to finish off a year in a subject.  Oil painting sat over my PChem lab.  Another class was on the hour of my "Women in Psychology" class, another requirement.  The Dean then smiled, "Olaf" I think you should complete a theme, having almost a "woman's studies minor" will round you out."
"What do you mean?"  I asked.  I'll only have three classes in that.  I'd had an Archeology class on woman's roles in societies, and another on Women radicals in History.

He made a call.  He told me that they'd forgive the single credit I'd be short (it was just a two credit class), if I survived and passed, if I did I deserved it, I thought he was joking.  Twenty minutes later, I was in the Library in a room I never knew existed as a member of the toughest class I ever had, in any level of study.  Pathology in Medical School was easier.  Thermodynamics in Physics...easier.  Even my Gynecology rotation at a women's clinic was easier, albeit slightly

"Women in Art Seminar"  Was the name of the class

I was the only male in a class of women art majors hating males.  The professor just gave me the look as I sat down.  Everyone moved away from where I sat.  No one wanted any part of me.  I didn't even recognize a single soul in that room.  I was truly alone.  I sat on the left and the other nine majors sat on the right.  It was two hours that from beginning to end, I took a beating personally and generally from who I was, and what sex I was and what I said.  My women Psych class was right after this on one of the days and I was so keyed up on similar issues, I could have taught that class.

I gave a paper on my favorite woman French artist which I learned wasn't graded as it all relied on my presentation at the end of the term and the open ended defense that followed.  The professor looked at me and gave me a date.  It was my date of Doom.

I had presented my summer research from Iowa on Leaf-cutting ants early in the fall for my Chemistry Major and speaking for me was easy.  My day came.  I had worked hard on my topic but then my professor introduced me to a gathering of all the majors, all the faculty (even the one who I had to use the receipt for).

 "Next is Olaf.  He is neither an art major nor a woman.  He is only in this class as a special favor for the dean.  His entire graduation from college, depends on us passing him.  His subject:  Woman in Wildlife Art.  That is going to be a tough order as first, I don't think any of us consider wildlife art ART.  Secondly, his subject person, Marianne North doesn't appear to even be an artist, and third of all, he is a male, and how could a male even understand the plight of women in the arts?"  She looked at me.  "I have a feeling we'll be seeing Olaf in an art class next term."

 I wasn't through my introduction and this slide caused an interruption as it was considered sexist and misogynist.

The hummingbird was considered the male and was "controlling" its stable of vaginas (flowers) in a chauvinist manner.  "Do you believe in Sexual Slavery?"  One of the professors asked me.  This was two days after we were in Chicago studying Georgia O'Keeffe flower paintings which were presented as "extremely pro-feminist."

It was an OMG moment but the women psychology class had helped me as for two hours they used my plight to get me ready for all complaints and questions.  I had pictures of female birds in flowers for just such a question.  I'm not even going to say what my reply was.  It was a tough slog, and in the end miraculously, I got an "A."  On my one sentence written comment on my grade.  "Never have had someone so involved in the class."  Yes, because I was emasculated on a moment by moment basis.

I'd forgotten about my subject artist, even forgotten her name, and then on Saturday, while watching the story of another Victorian era and later Woman adventurer, Gertrude Bell, "Queen of the Desert" the woman who knew the Middle East circa WWI like no other and was a king maker in the region, the name came back to me.

Marianne North, 1830-1890, was probably the best botanical painter of her era, and maybe ever.  By herself, she decided to just travel and paint heading on around the world adventures when she had the funds.  Forsaking marriage as she put it for her painting, she saw things that in some cases, that now no longer are even found.  She went everywhere, and brought back wood from all of the trees she saw and was a prolific painter, only painting for documentation never selling a single painting.  Her flowers are stunning. All of her work 830 paintings and her collection of wood now hangs at the Kew Gardens in London,

The Kew Gardens, a place that all of my english friends have been to but her museum there since before 1890, to a person, no one has ever seen.   

Golden breasted cuckoo from South Africa

Most of them don't have birds in them, but Ms. North's wanderlust made me enjoy nature and made me want to go and see stuff.  I'm glad her name came to me.  Now I want to go to London and see her museum, I missed it when I was there last, since I couldn't remember her name.  Thankfully, Nicole Kidman's portrayal of Gertrude Bell jogged the Eighties memory as traumatic that it was and now I can enjoy her work again.  Like Bell, North is one of those people you just never hear of.

The Eighties kept calling....
It was 1989, a biologist plucked a viable egg from a nest in Alaska and shortly, this and other swan eggs were on a Kohler Faucet  private plane from Fairbanks to Wisconsin.  This bird was reintroduced six miles north of where I grew up later that year and in 2014, was seen by biologists and by me, on the Wood River across the lake from my parents, 82K is the name of the oldest living Wisconsin trumpeter swan and now lives between Indiana and NW Wisconsin.

If you don't know the story, in the Thirties, the trumpeter numbers were thought down to 70 birds and extinction was thought imminent.  The last one in Wisconsin was seen near Oconto, then they found a remnant population of 2000 birds in Alaska, protected them and allowed them to come back and they reintroduced them back into the lower 48.

As I started birding heavily after college, I grew accustomed to seeing trumpeters, they lounged on nearby fields, flew over my parents house, and swam in the local lakes marshes and rivers, but this was a success story.  I see more trumpeter swans in Burnett County Wisconsin than I see house sparrows.  I have all sorts of photos

Here are three just above the location of the 2014 sighting last month in Wisconsin

But I have never seen one in South Dakota.  So it was with some surprise that I stopped on Sunday to scan a slushy low spot in a corn field after digging out from the Doom Storm to scope some swans and I actually saw some.

 Trumpeter Swan, Grant County SD

Of course there were some tundra swans mixed in the two flocks, but there were quite a few trumpeters, too

tundra swans

But I had it, state bird #294  trumpeter swan, one more on the list, got to love those swans. Not s fan-tailed but hopefully it will stick.  Sixth report of them in SD this year, so not rare rare, but not an easy bird either

Winter 2017-18, 
this is what I think of you.......a snowball in the face.

taken April 15th.  

Winter...... go back to the Eighties where you warming, please come.  Tomorrow, more snow.  Yes, more snow.

Snow willing, on Friday, I'm going somewhere where there is 1) no snow, and 2) spring and 3) birds
did I say I'm sick of snow?


Friday, April 6, 2018

Lektastic on a Frozen Prairie

They say New York City is the city that never sleeps.  If that is true... Pierre, South Dakota, our diminutive state capital, is a city that never seems to wake up.

Try finding a place to get some food before 6am?  Try finding a convenience store on the main drag open to get coffee before was almost as hard as trying to find a politician to actaully want to do anything.

I just returned from Big Bend Texas, and despite the cold, the snow, the absence of spring, the birding MUST go on.  Every year, I go to a Lek to see prairie grouse, sometimes more than one.  Last year it was sage grouse, this year...  Barry Parkin, a friend from Aberdeen made an appointment a while back for a lek south of Pierre in the Ft Pierre National Grasslands, so despite a short turn around, I promised so, off we went. Our reason to be in the state capital.  Besides, I need something to write about next week in the Watertown Public Opinion, my three fans need me.

Our back-up day was Monday and since we are expecting a foot of snow, despite the cold weather, off we went to see the glory of spring.  I talked Tony Maunu, State Trooper from Pierre to come along because misery, loves company.  The wind...30 mph out of the northwest, the temp, 9 degrees, and the wind chill, minus 16 degrees....this is April 6th it really April?  I've rarely go ice fishing this cold, in fact, we could have went ice fishing.  Everything is still frozen

We went, I parked the truck and ran for the blind since it was so cold, we crawled in the box and literally a few moments later the erie sounds of spring on the prairie echoed through the howling wind.  It was cold, colder than a witch's ti....chickadee.  We brought with a space heater and we were still cold.

The birds were doing their thing, 10 chickens, 2 sharptails and a mutt, it was so nasty you could tell they were only going through the motions, a daily ritual that had to be done.  They almost seemed relieved when something flushed them away, and in their absence we also snuck away, since I was down to feeling only two toes.

Scenes from the lek,
Greater prairie chicken

GPCX x Sharptailed grouse hybrid

Some hen apparently went to the wrong side of the lek, and well, this poor bugger came out.  he didn't know whether to stomp or dance.  He wanted to run around but then he just stopped and clucked.  The male GPCX just wanted to beat on him.....prairie mutts....

here is a peripheral male staring that mutt down

It was Tony's first lek, and he looked enthralled despite the weather, literally in over 20 leks, the coldest ever.  considering how I sometimes bird...that is saying something.

Later it was off to scout for something new.  The waterfowl are stacked up here, and besides seeing the first marbled godwit seen in South dakota this year, nothing much is around.

.We ran into Rickey Olson at the Oahe dam and since 150 miles away someone this week had reported long-billed curlew, we decided to go into the prairie and look, as futile as it seemed. Like finding a needle in a haystack, but I'm lucky so  he gave us a couple of roads in Stanley County maybe 60 miles to search, so off Barry and I went.  Ten miles away
I exclaimed..."got one!"

We had found a pair.....luck is not a lady, it is Olaf and Barry

SD Lifer #293  Long-billed curlew in the snow



Barry even took a picture of me, taking a picture of the curlew (male is on my left)

It was still cold out there

I drove the five hours back from Eagle Butte on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, 20 miles from home I saw my first live snowy owl in South Dakota this year sitting in a tree (seen others in MN, ND, MB) and I instinctively slammed on the brakes.  The road near Summit SD was ice covered due to our ground blizzard and I skidded in my truck, and I straightened it out, unfortunately my Nikon went flying around, and something broke........

So these ended up being costly birds, and the camera shop will be in my future..dang.

I keep counting, if spring ever comes, my 300th SD bird should be bagged by June now, as I need many warblers....I need two ABA birds for 800, and i need something to show get my 300/800 done

As the sign at my office's Accounting department says, as well as with Olaf, "Everyone Counts!"
i count, you count, we all more tick......

Put on your booties cause it is cooold out there!  It is cold out there every day.  I'll tell you about this weather.  It is going to be cold, gray, and it will last for the rest of your life! is never going to come, NEVER!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Tricky Dick and the Big Bend

Many people remember what they were doing when JFK was shot, others remember where they were when they learned Elvis or Lennon died, and some, yes, some, even remember the day the music died.  I remember exactly where I was on April 22, 1994.  I was driving into the McDonald Observatory in Ft. Davis, Texas, and I saw a person lowering the US Flag to half-staff.
“What happened?” I asked out the window..
“Nixon just died.”  The person said.  “Tricky Dick Nixon is dead.”
Was I some huge fan of President Nixon?  Did I think he had been pushed out of office unfairly? Did I admire the man?  The answers…no, no, and NO.  Then why does that day linger in my brain like the aftertaste from a bad burrito I ate that evening in Pecos, Texas?
The day before, April 21, 1994, I completed my first real bird chase, nabbing a Colima warbler on top of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, when my wife asked me when I was taking a break that if that bird I was looking for had yellow under it’s tail and a brown cap.  "There it is!" She said proudly. It was perched near my backpack. 
That began an odd love affair I have with west Texas and Big Bend National Park.  So much so that when I was last here in 2016, I vowed that I would walk up Pinnacles Trail every so often as a family hike and if I can’t make it, I going into assisted living and giving up birding.  Those are strong words and my wife just looks at me like I’m odd when I repeat them.  

Considering I've had a rather bad year in terms of an injured rotator cuff, a bum ankle, and generally feeling old, slow, and out of shape, and highlighted with the mortality of life that crept into my thoughts with my grandmother’s death, I needed some mental reassurance and as such….unlike the last three Easter trips that all went to Colorado, this year, we were off to the Big Bend of the Rio Grande River in Texas to renew and recharge my spirit.  I got prepared for west Texas by watching my two favorite west Texas movies, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and Tin Cup—not classics of the cinema just favorites.
We flew in Good Friday and spent the first night in Texas at a very quirky bed and breakfast in Marathon called Eve’s Garden.  The place is comfortable, colorful, fragrant (the rooms basically open up into a greenhouse of flowers), and it has the best breakfast of any B&B I’ve ever stayed at.  I stayed here in 2013 with a fellow birder named Jim Brown “Arvid” when we sort of blew in and out on our way to get 3 days of birding done for that project.  This time it seems even more colorful.  

There were a few hummers at the Public Library a block away, mostly black-chinned, 

and we found numerous Vermilion flycatchers down at the Post Park south of town.

I call my church the church of St. Ocotillo, the tenets created by “Arvid” and me back that same year, 2013.  Our sacred plant, and using some tenets of the Aztec religion deifying hummingbirds and the sun, when I heard Lucifer Hummingbirds were being seen nearby, and Lucifer meaning of the Latin as “light bringing” therefore, this would be the holiest of hummingbirds in association with the sun god. 

Carolyn Ohl-Johnson lives in a forlorn corner of the Christmas Mountains way northwest of the park.  She has created an oasis out of the creosote, rocks, and sand of the property she had purchased years ago and has become THE place to go to find Lucifer hummingbirds in Texas.  

Back during my big year, a pretty male showed up to Ash Canyon in Arizona, so I never had to come here to look.  This year, she has been reporting a few of the sacred birds.  I had tried to find the place without specific directions when we drove down from Marathon, I got lost and all we found was a white donkey, that our rental pick-up wasn’t 4x4, and that they shoot people trespassing on the Terlingua Ranch property.  I emailed her for an official invite and directions.

That next morning now armed with a map, but less one of my birding partners, my daughter, who decided to sleep in, we made the trek to her Christmas Mountain Oasis.  It is a cool project she has accomplished.  Three Lucifer hummingbirds waited for us perched at first light before feeding, mating, and then dispersing off to the blooming sacred ocotillo to hang for the rest of the day.  By 8am, it was all over but my wife and I had seen the stunning hummer.  



I could say it was like a religious experience but alas…that would be pushing it. 

We spent the rest of the morning hiking up the Lost Mine Trail, which doesn’t go to a mine, (as in it is lost, I suppose) and we left a little late due to the hummer side trip, and it got really hot descending back to the truck.  In the trips here previously, I had never been up this trail.  Another stunning view from the top, one picture even had me in it.

That evening after 5 miles on foot, we drove down to the Rio Grande to see how hot it was down there.  It was just 97 degrees, I’ve seen it over 110 in April.  We had a group of Chinese students take our photo in front of St Elena Canyon showing what the only wall on the Mexican border should look like (Mexico is the wall on the left).  

I photographed a roadrunner, then ocotillo, then a roadrunner in an ocotillo, and then my lady hiking companions by ocotillo,

 I did see a blue-throated hummingbird feeding in ocotillo but it was too quick for me to get my camera up and then we went back to Study Butte to La Kiva to eat Easter dinner.  We were hot and tired, this restaurant was a great find, as like the hotels down here, the food previously was the worst part of traveling down here.

On Monday, the assault up the dreaded Pinnacles Trail, began at 0515, after arising at 0400, a full two hours before first light.  Some people call me crazy for going up this trail with headlamps and spot lights but as it was 55 degrees when we left and two hours after sunrise would break 80 on its way to 90 degrees, it makes for a much more comfortable hike.  The darkness also, in my opinion, makes it less daunting as until you get to the “saddle” ¾ up, you don’t know where you are.

There is always something new that happens to me on a repeat trip.  This year, it was many Mexican whippoorwills that serenaded us from about 0615 to 7am.  I had never heard or seen them before up here.  I don’t know why, either.  This was my forth nighttime assault on this mountain.  This year as I was trying to see them with my light we traversed a dozen switchbacks without realizing we were doing it.  It was like the birding Gods, namely the Aztec Lucifer God was helping us out.  We even got buzzed by one while resting at the saddle eating breakfast on the trail. 

We reached prime Colima warbler habitat right when it became prime warbler activity time.  This range is the only place to ever see this bird in North America and I am 3/3, but I had never photographed one.  I lugged up my big 500mm lens just to get one.  I knew it was very early for them, April 2nd is about a couple days after the early edge of their arrival, but the trip was set by my daughter’s Easter break so it was the best I could do.  Besides, the hike up the mountain was more for the hike than the bird.  No Colima’s were calling from the down hill side of the gap, I’d seen them here on two years, but not this time.  We made it to the top, so no assisted living for me…this year!

We hiked around the rim for a while, finally on an overlook of the next canyon south, a Colima started to call angrily at me and we saw it flit from the bushes going up the valley, and then it got mixed up with a feeding flock of black crested titmouse (titmice?) and gnatcatchers going down across the trail into the trees of the valley and we lost track of it without a photograph.  It continues to be my photographic nemesis bird, I’m 0 for 4 now in that, but at least we saw one.  A Titmouse, at least, posed for me. 

Bird seen, my hiking buddies were limping and looking like they had experienced enough of the Pinnacles trail and warbler finding, they were sucking down our rations of water like they were a part of the desert, so we headed down, finishing our 9 miles of fun just after noon and with the outside temperature now reaching 88 degrees.  

There were other good birds seen, a zone-tailed hawk riding the thermal just above my head just below the wall calling was the highlight.  This one looked so much like a vulture that without seeing its yellow feet, I might have not gave it a second look (although the call was quite unmistakable).   A playful squadron of white-collared swifts buzzing us at the top was also fun. The best birds were definitely the whippoorwills, a Texas first for me, and of course just making it up filled me with confidence, a burst of energy, and a resolve to fight on for a few years more until I can convince someone else stupid enough to come back down here with me to attempt this hike again.

ash throated flycatcher

cactus wren

cool cactus flowers

Ladderbacked woodpecker

Mexican jay

Spotted towhee

white-collared swifts

After a siesta, we celebrated our success at the Starlight Theater at the Terlingua Ghost Town just west of the park.  It is an old theater.  The music was true Texas...

They say it is ALSO the birthplace of the “Chili Cookoff.”  

I don’t know about that but it is the most populated ghost town I’ve ever been to.  The nearby church has been invaded by cave swallows and this place, including the store next door, has been taken over by the kitsch and slightly crazy.  I ate quail as somehow, eating a quail, seemed right and good for a change in west Texas.  

scaled quail trying to be supper

Some drunk guy at the bar tried to tell me “Tejas” meant “friend” in Navajo and I just smiled and nodded as I wasn’t sure why the Texans would use a Navajo word to name Texas instead of a Spanish word but My Big Bend Brewery “Tejas” beer was the best beer I’d drank on the whole trip.

My wife bought us a baby ocotillo plant to bring home.  My daughter named it Occi.  He is just 4 inches high.  We will plant it in our house and put it in a place of honor.  I do wonder though, if it dies, will that be bad luck?  I wonder what Nixon would say?  Maybe, like the break in at Watergate, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.  I fear I may be regretting this ocotillo purchase, but as they say, life is one big adventure and it seemed a lot less extreme than bringing a Lucifer hummingbird home.  Nothing good would ever come of that.

Ah Big Bend….it just keeps on giving and giving.  A local put it succinctly on a bumper sticker.  Some call Terlingua hell, we just call it home.  I’m not sure I could ever live down here, but every so often, I just got to return....just remember if YOU go, carry lots to drink around here.

Stay thirsty my friends

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Where the Battle Wasn't

I've been trying to catch up, working on my business interests and trying to get a handle on the affairs of my grandmother. I needed to take a day off and just go and do something else.  My travels this week took me to central South Dakota, to a town founded by 200 Civil War vets from both sides, after they were given a break on the amount of time needed to homestead.  This small town claims to be famous for where the battle wasn't, there is even a sign on the east side of town showing the distance to Gettysburg, PA, 1450 miles away.

I went with Barry the Birder (Parkin) from Aberdeen, as we had a few fresh leads on birds I needed for my state list and one for his.  Barry took a break from redoing his bathroom surviving some well earned scorn from his wife.

Like usual we stopped and smelled the roses a bit along the way.  Gettysburg is also the home of Medicine Rock, to say Medicine Rock is legendary is an overstatement as the rock is largely forgotten, even though it could be the most important rock in North America.

So two questions come to mind.  1.  Why is this huge rock in a building and 2.  Why is it important.

1.  Originally located on the Missouri River near the mouth of the Cheyenne Creek, this sacred rock to the local indigenous people who say the foot prints were made by the Great spirit was noted in the early 1800s.  It was visited by everyone famous of the period.  1879 by Gen. Custer and casts were made of the very deep foot prints.  A local woman donated 160 acres to the state historical society to care for it and save it at the turn of the century, but they forgot about why they had it and apparently sold the land.  Then as the Oahe Dam was completed 60 years ago, and the Missouri was going to be flooded and there was no money to save the rock so Gettysburg bucked up and paid for it and moved it to a park.  The rock was removed before it went under water and was put here in 1989 to protect it.  Thank you Gettysburg for saving the rock and shame on the South Dakota Historical Society for being idiots and almost letting the most important piece of ancient history in the midwest to almost be destroyed..

2.  Hand prints and foot prints

How old are these things?  What people made these, and were they pre glacier?  What people were even in this part of the world that many eons ago?  I suspect, the answer will shake the history of humanity on this planet and continent but no one cares, studying things in fly-over county is not sexy for archeo-paleontologists
Just yesterday, there was a published report about the oldest human footprints found in North America on an island off of British Columbia but I doubt they have compared to this one, because...well...again this is Gettysburg South Dakota

The Sunset Museum also has a 6 foot Auguste Moreau Bronze, which I should say is attributed to him by the Museum, which is named "Queen of the Prairie."  I am a bit of an art historian.  I'm pretty much an expert on a couple of artists of the period, but not Moreau.  There are some problems here.  One, smaller works of the same theme, are called by other names and since this was a Frenchman that died in 1917, and was not known to have visited the US, it would have never had such a name.

"Queen of the Prairie" Donated by a local business person years ago to the museum

There were also a whole slew of Moreaus, it was as much of a family business as anything. As far as authenticity goes there are many MANY reproductions around.  Since the sculptures were cast, and there were many members of the family Moreau that worked on these, there was nothing to prevent the family to produce multiple statues using these casts.  This statue might not be "fake" but it is probably "in house."  The likelihood of someone in Gettysburg having the original is quite unlikely.  Having a factory stamp "Paris" somewhere on the statue means that it was made at the factory after the Moreau members passed.  Now some of his statues command a good price but most are made of spelter and just painted,  So who knows if this is a great piece or just a very attractive period bronze piece that represents the "Allegorical woman " from the period.  I liked it.  Not everything has to worth lots of money to be appreciated.

Gettysburg is more than meets the eye but I would NOT recommend for you to visit the city's website as it has been hacked.  Although it does feature info about the rock intermixed with links to porn sites.  I think the city council needs to visit their website and maybe take care of this.  It provided a laugh between birding spots.

I drove on through Gettysburg to the Missouri River and saw and photographed badly two lifer state birds.

#291  Great Black-backed gull

A good bird for South Dakota seen once or twice a year or so.  This one showed up on Tuesday

#292  Barn Owl

A very good South Dakota breeder which only breeds in a few isolated places along the Missouri River at the very edge of the range.  We flushed one out of a hole on a river bank.

So, a good, but a long 600 mile day in a car.  I tallied 2 state lifers, one I never figured I'd see in the state (the owl), a cool rock, I will revisit, and a nice piece of art.  Yes, Gettysburg, South Dakota, it is a place where the battle wasn't BUT also a place where a lot of interesting things are.

Get off the highway and look around, you'd be shocked about what you find.