Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author Marty Essen

Prairie vs. ranchland

Marty’s photo of the day #3719: This is our tent site, from earlier this month, at Buffalo Camp on the American Prairie Reserve. It’s not an exciting photo, but I wanted to point out how green the landscape was. As we drove south out of Malta, Montana, we followed fifty miles of gravel roads until reaching Buffalo Camp. Along the way, we passed through dry, brown ranchland. Native prairie plants, however, grow deep roots and are better able to cope with droughts. It’s yet another reason why the prairie is better off untouched by development.

In addition to the greenery, Buffalo Camp was wonderful because Deb, Nellie, and I had it all to ourselves. Highlights included huge bison bulls, hilarious prairie dogs, a stunning sunset, and lying beside our tent drinking whiskey-Cokes while watching the most spectacular display of stars I’d ever seen. Montana is “Big Sky Country” for a reason, and here there were no electric lights for many miles and a new moon to boot.

The only negative was that my night sky photos totally bombed. I could have tried harder and made some adjustments, but sometimes it’s nice to just forget about photos and enjoy the moment.

Clarification: Our dog, Nellie, didn’t actually drink whiskey-Cokes with us. She had to settle for water and dishes prewash duty.

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