Day 3: Really, we began our “day” at midnight, driving through dirt roads from the Livingston grocery store out to the American Prairie Reserve. With no GPS or internet service, we drove through the bumpy gravel roads and immense swaths of pitch-black darkness. After taking a few wrong turns, we finally arrived at Enrico at 3am. Dusty and tired, we passed out in our tents to the howls of coyotes. We woke up the next morning with the sun beating down on our tents, turning our living space into an oven. Thankfully, with a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and Elias-brand eggs, we gained the energy to begin creating our documentary.
Around noon, we had the fantastic opportunity to interview a veterinarian working on the reserve named Don, who had 50 years of veterinary experience. Don taught us about bison/buffalo, which we learned are actually two words for the same animal. We also conducted an interview with Don about his work on the reserve to use in our documentary.
After our time with Don, we packed up lunch, hopped in the car, and set out for the nearby Missouri River Basin, where we planned to swim in Fourchette Bay. Along the way, we spotted some bison herds grazing in the prairie, so we stopped the cars along the dusty road and began filming with the drone. Once we captured all the shots we wanted, we set off for the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. After driving for what seemed like an hour of not finding any large bodies of water, only small watering holes, morale was low and we thought that we had taken the wrong turn again. But the gravel road soon dipped into a valley, and the bay emerged, appearing almost like a desert mirage. We dropped our stuff off in the parking lot after a picnic lunch, and headed to the river to swim. After meeting a family parked next to the river bank with four large dogs (Elias and Mac had a beautiful moment of bonding), we took a dip in the Missouri. To dry off, we went for a beautiful hike along the road with a view of the river.
After the hike, we headed back to Enrico for some free time before dinner. Some of the group went on runs through the prairie, while others stayed at the complex to play wiffle ball, frisbee, and fetch with Ella, a beautiful black lab who lives at the center. To finish off our long day, the members of the Woke Mobile and Adam made a delicious pasta dinner for us, which we ate as we watched the sunset. We can’t wait to see what the rest of this trip has in store for us!
Janette and Daniel