Oh, how the tables have turned, a lot has changed for me within the last week. In my previous blog post, I spoke about how it’s been an interesting experience working from home. But, that quickly changed as my program manager, program coordinator, and supervisor exhausted all options to get me to my park site. Flying halfway across the country, I could barely contain my excitement. When I stepped out of the airport, I readily embraced the dry heat of South Dakota, as opposed to the sweltering 90 degree days in New York. Observing my surroundings, I noticed the sprawling natural landscape teeming with grass, and the clusters of trees and bushes scattered around. These features are not so prominent back home because mostly buildings clutter the scene.
Searching for a familiar face, I spotted the Wind Cave employee I had met via video call two weeks ago. Once we packed the car up, we set out to visit the nearest Walmart for any items I did not bring. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, it had closed 30 minutes before my flight had landed. Plan B kicked into gear, and we found the nearest gas station equipped with breakfast burritos and protein bars. Afterward, we continued our trip to Hot Springs, which was an hour away from where we were in Rapid City. Once there, I settled in and looked forward to the following day.
I am thrilled to say that the park is everything I thought it’d be and more. With cascading hills topped with mixed prairie grass and ponderosa pines, I am happy to know that this is where I’ll be staying for the next couple of weeks. My department is taking the necessary precautions needed due to COVID-19, and I am to self-quarantine. Despite these limitations, I have already wandered around the grasslands -as social distancing is very doable- and captured some of the beauty this park has to offer. As soon as my quarantine is lifted, I hope to get plenty of snapshots of the cave.
I’ll share some photos down below: