Jeep Issues

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Badlands National Park looking southeast at sunset.

Yesterday morning, we went through our usual routine to get back on the road.  We made sure everything was locked and secure in the motor home and hooked the Jeep up to the motor home for towing.  Once you do that, it’s my job to make sure the transfer case in the Jeep is put into neutral.  Once you do that, you check to make sure it happened correctly.  For the very first time, I checked and it didn’t happen.  Hmmm.  I was sure I did it correctly.  I tried again.  Didn’t work.  I tried a third time.  Didn’t work.

At this point, I gave up and let Regis take over.  He couldn’t get it to work either.  That means, we couldn’t tow the Jeep.  Our next destination was Deadwood, South Dakota which is north of Rapid City.  But, Rapid City was our best opportunity to find a place to fix the Jeep.  I drove the car and Regis drove the motor home and we stopped in Rapid City.  The Jeep is currently at the dealer and we are waiting for the diagnosis.  We have hatched a couple plans depending on the result.  If we don’t have the Jeep for a few days, we will look into renting a car so we can explore while we are here.  I’ve had time to review some brochures on the area and now want to stay to explore.  This little delay modifies our travel plans between here and Portland.  We have some flexibility in our plans, so once we get feedback from the dealer, we’ll make more specific plans.

On our last evening in the Badlands, we went to the Park to view the sunset over the Black Hills.  You can see the Black Hills from the Park.  The weather was a little nippy but not too cold so it was lovely.  The view was amazing.  The Bighorn Sheep were grazing on the hill behind where we set up to view the sunset.  As the sun went down, it sent shafts of light onto the Badlands.  Oh my gosh, I could do this every night.  It was incredible.

In my last post, I mentioned that the Prairie Dogs can carry the plague.  I feel its important to say that Prairie Dogs are necessary to the health of the ecosystem.  They are a keystone species.  Many animals depend on Prairie Dog populations.  As an example, Burrowing Owls burrow in Prairie Dog holes.  I want to make sure that I didn’t leave a bad impression regarding Prairie Dogs.

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Sunset at Badlands National Park.
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Bighorn Sheep after sunset at Badlands National Park.
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Prairie dogs sitting on their front porch catching the golden rays during sunset at Badlands National Park.

Meadowlarks and Other Critters

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Meadowlark in Badlands National Park.

I love Meadowlarks.  I love how they sing and how so much volume can come out of a small bird.  They are everywhere out here.  Regis got a video to share so you can hear the song.

I’ve been stalking the wildlife and playing the paparazzi with them.  The Red-Winged Blackbirds fill our campground with their voices.

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Female Red-Winged Blackbird.
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Male Red-Winged Blackbird
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Male Red-Winged Blackbird.

One of our goals today was to see if we could locate any baby sheep.  We found them.  There were 5 baby sheep with one female high up on top of the ridge.  That was probably the safest place for them.  The female appeared to be in charge of the nursery this morning.

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Female Bighorn Sheep and 5 young in Badlands National Park.

They are probably trying to keep those little ones safe from the coyotes, like these below.

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Coyotes in Badlands National Park.

We saw lots of bison and they are very scraggly.  They are shedding their winter coats and they are covered with lots of dried mud.

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Bison in Badlands National Park. It looks a little rough with the shedding and the mud from the recent rains.

We read that we should keep an eye out for Burrowing Owls in the Prairie Dog colonies.  We found some!

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Burrowing Owls in Badlands National Park. Notice the head of the second owl popping up out of the burrow beneath the standing owl.
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Prairie Dog gathering grasses in Badlands National Park.

We noticed that a lot of prairie dogs we have seen look like they have some kind of disease.  I was doing some research online and can’t find any recent articles, but there was an article from 2009 documenting Silvatic plague in the prairie dogs in the Badlands in the Sage Creek Wilderness area.  Park personnel told us to be sure to keep the dog away from the prairie dog colonies because the prairie dogs carry Bubonic plague. The same bacterium in Silvatic plague is responsible for Bubonic plague in humans.  If you follow Park Service guidance, you are not in danger of getting infected.  Keeping pets away from the colonies is important.   The closest Dart got to the colonies was sitting in the car while we drove by or stopped to take pictures from the car.