This past Saturday neither of us had to work so we decided to take a day trip. We have been wanting to see some wild buffalo, so we chose to drive out west and find some! We started early in the morning. Stopping at Hi Hat for some delicious lattes. And were on our way. We drove for about two hours. The roads were flat. The hills were gently rolling. We were driving through vast nothingness! The further west we got, the more open the space, the farther you could see. It was a bright clear and cool day with the sun shining and the skies blue.
We finally arrived in a small town called Emporia. There we got off the highway and turned onto long country roads that went right through the prairies. We passed ranch after ranch of flat pastures and black cows. When we got to the Tallgrass Prairie National Park we could barely contain our excitement. We went into the visitors center and asked the tall Park Ranger where we could find the buffalo. He pointed out an 11,000 acre square in which they usually roamed. He mapped out some trails and said maybe, just maybe, if we hiked in this direction, we would catch a glimpse. We set out. Not daunted by 11,000 acres at all! It was gorgeous! The hike was invigorating. We walked for over an hour. Enjoying the grassy prairies, the sunny day, and the wide openness. You could see for miles and miles and we were the only people. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Finally I spotted some dark figures far in the distance. I zoomed in on them with my camera, you still couldn’t see very well, but the shapes were definitely not that of a cow. Liz practically sprinted in their direction. We hiked another half hour or so, around lazy hills and through grassy paths and then right in front of us was the herd. Twenty-two buffalo stood in our path. Grazing, roaming, rolling in the dirt and eyeing us cautiously. We were ecstatic!
We slowly approached them in awe. They were HUGE! We got to about fifty feet away from them and just watched. (And took about 500 pictures) There was nothing separating us from them. We were IN their pasture. We could have walked right up to them if we wanted.
We stood there for a good half hour just soaking in the beautiful scenery and the amazing wildlife grazing in front of us. We only left when two of the bulls got in a fight and started charging right at us! We had to run off the path to get out of their way. I don’t think either of us have ever been more scared for our lives than at that moment!
We walked back to the visitors center and began our journey home. Stopping in the small town for some barbecue was the perfect end to our trip and we came home exhausted, but satisfied with how our day had turned out.