Saturday, April 19, 2014

National Bison Range

On Monday, April 7th, we crossed into Montana and arrived in Missoula and checked into the KOA Kampground.  The next day, April 8th, we ventured a short distance north and found ourselves in a truly unique area of the country.

On our way to Moiese, Montana, to visit the National Bison Range, we drove through the Flathead Indian Reservation.  Upon entering the area, we immediately noticed that all the road signs along US Route 93 are in two languages: English, and one other language that we couldn’t place at all!

After coming home and researching the Flathead Indian Reservation, we learned that the language was Salish.  This language is dying out, and today fewer than 50 people speak it as their native tongue (and they are all over the age of 65).  Today the Flathead Nation is trying to preserve and revive the original language of their people.  In Arlee, Montana, where we drove we came across what appeared to be a school.  I later found out that this is the N’kwusm Salish Language Institute.  What a very interesting discovery that we made!

Continuing on our drive, we arrived at the National Bison Range visitor center to spend our afternoon.  The visitor center had a very good film about the American Bison (known in the vernacular as “buffalo” even though they technically aren’t buffalo) and some good educational displays.

We weren’t able to make the full loop drive through the bison range due to the upper elevations still having snow-covered roads, so we took the prairie drive in hopes of seeing a bison herd.  After making the entire drive, our hopes were dashed when we spied the herd on a hillside in the far distance, too far even for our cameras to pick up descent pictures.  We did, however, see a lot of other wildlife.  We saw many whitetail deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and even some elk.

At one point, Steve got out of the car to take a picture.  When we climbed back into the car, I noticed a bug on his shirt.  When I realized it was a tick, he jumped out of the car so I could get it off of him.  When I took a closer look, I realized he was covered in ticks!  Altogether, I think I swiped about ten ticks off of him.  Our 16yo son also had one on him which we discovered on the floor of the car after he swiped it off his neck.  Terrible creatures! Yuck!

Even though the National Bison Range was quite beautiful and picturesque, we headed back home early enough to celebrate a birthday!  This was the day that our 7yo son turned 8yo!  We had a small birthday celebration with cake and presents which made him quite happy.

While we didn’t stay too long in Missoula, we did enjoy our time there.  But the next day, April 9th, we continued on our way, further north yet!