I went on my first trip to the Elkhorn Ranch site today. I had not gone before because the prospect of taking an aging car with half a new suspension 30 miles one way down a dirt road was not appealing. But if I was going to ride in a 4wd SUV for work, that was fine by me.
There isn't a whole lot going on at the site but for some new signs that need updating. That's one of the reasons we were there. The park likes to keep it pristine that way, quiet and with a sense of the solitude Roosevelt sought there. The only real sign that anything ever occurred there is the depression and the big rocks that made up the foundation of the Elkhorn Ranch Cabin, Roosevelt's main operation along the Little Missouri. It's pretty neat to stand in the spot that was the veranda and try to imagine Roosevelt rocking in his chair in that exact spot. The cottonwood trees are still there, and an old warrior of a cottonwood just off the SW corner of the cabin was probably there as a small sapling while Roosevelt lived there. That was pretty interesting to think about.
I didn't take any of my own pictures because the weather was not ideal. It was snowing those big lumpy snowflakes just like lake effect snow in Milwaukee, except about twice that size. It rained in Medora later in the day. It was just enough moisture to turn the clay silt into the familiar, awful mud that gets everywhere and yet is impossible to get off. One step into it, I realize "Oh, I'm in soft mud." By the second time that foot lands in the mud, I can really feel the mud. By the fourth, there is literally an inch of mud and grass attached to the bottom of the boot and it feels like walking with watermelons for shoes.
I was excited to see some waxwings in a tree, but couldn't tell right off whether they were Bohemian or cedar waxwings, that I didn't see a sharp-shinned hawk nearby right away. I saw a lone Canada goose flying north along the Little Missouri in the morning. I believed it was migrating, but a source who shall remain anonymous said it probably never left over winter. Well, I haven't seen a goose all winter, so draw your own conclusions. I did hear a chickadee singing "DEE-dee DEE-dee." Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's a call they make during mating season.