On Sunday, I promised to share my snake story from our camping trip. On our last night in Badlands National Park, I made it my mission to photograph the sunset. Now, I didn't want to photograph just any sunset. I wanted to catch the sun going down behind the mountain peaks. We drove part of the way through the park until I found the perfect spot. It was about a half hour until show time, so I found a huge rock, climbed out on it, and sat down to wait. The night sounds of the prairie are delightful, and the air had cooled to a very pleasant temperature. I called down to my hubby to come on up and sit with me. He dutifully climbed up on the rock, complained about how hard it was, and shifted around behind me, trying to get comfortable. Finally...quiet. I adjusted my camera for the light, and just as I put it up to my face, I heard him. "Oh no."
Mildly exasperated, I said, "What?!!"
"There's a giant rattlesnake, a foot and a half from my butt."
There are many species of animals and reptiles on the South Dakota prairie, including a few varieties of snakes. One of these is the hog-nose, a relatively harmless, non-venomous breed. And then there is the rattlesnake...an icon in the American west. The prairie rattler is native to the Badlands and is considered to be the more aggressive of the rattlesnake family. It is also venomous. In the heat of summer, they wait until early evening to come out to hunt.
I turned around, and I saw nothing. He pointed to a low shrub growing out of the rock. I went to where he was standing. I still saw nothing. I aimed my camera at the area using a huge telephoto lens and snapped several photographs. I examined the screen and could find nothing. I was beginning to wonder if hubby's eyes were playing tricks on him. Even he started to wonder. Finally I changed places with him, and looked at the trunk of the bush where he was pointing and bent down a little.
Because of where he was positioned, I had trouble focusing on him. I was not about to take my eyes off of him, so adjusting my focus mode was out of the question. Even still, there's no mistaking him. Of course, the whole time I was flashing my light meter at him, hubby was trying to tell me that I'm probably agitating him. Finally, common sense prevailed and I climbed down off of the rock.
This was not my first encounter with this delightful creature. In the early days of our marriage, the hubby and I were visiting the Badlands and I went out for an afternoon run. (Yes, there was a time when I was able to do that) Being an experienced runner, I was sort of zoning out as I made my way along the path. Somewhere in my dehydrated brain, it occurred to me that there was something laying on the path. I was just about on top of it when the light dawned. I stepped around a rattlesnake sunning himself. When I got back to camp, I identified it from a field guide...a prairie rattlesnake.
I did manage to get a series of shots of the sunset...from a safer location.
The colors changed minute by minute.
I love the way you can see the rays of the sun in this one.
I hope you enjoyed my snake tales. Camping is never boring. Have a terrific day!
Until next time,