From Custer State Park, South Dakota...

Dear Emma, Sebbie, and Lizzie,

Shhhh... I’m gonna whisper in your ear...

I want to tell you all about Custer State Park, where we are right now, but you have to promise to keep it a secret. It’s one of my most favorite places in the United States and I don’t want anyone else to know about it. (I guess it’s okay if you tell your mom and dad, and your best friend, but no one else, okay? Do we have a deal?)

Ok, good. So here it is...

Our first day at Custer State Park was more of a settle-in day. We had to buy groceries and all that boring stuff.

I will say though, the farmer’s market had some nice surprises; like biscuits and gravy, which is my favorite breakfast...

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and sand cherry jam. I didn’t know what a sand cherry was, I had to look it up. It tastes a little bit like a cherry mixed with a grape.

The last new thing was an onion flower; you pull off all the little flowers and sprinkle them on your salad. When you eat them, they taste like scallions! We found a little spider living in this one. Luckily we saw it before we ate it — phew!

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Enough about food though, here’s the really amazing thing about Custer State Park: they have a bison (commonly called buffalo) herd of about 1,000 head and you can drive up close to them! Check it out (this video is a little long, feel free to fast forward):

They were so close we could have reached out the window to pet them. We didn’t of course, that would have been stupid and dangerous!

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Did you know that American buffalo were almost extinct because they’d been over hunted? Wouldn’t that be sad if they didn’t exist anymore?

Luckily, some conservationists, and cool people like you and me, decided to do something about it — and they saved them! There are now enough bison that people farm them and we can buy bison meat in the grocery store.

I do like the taste of bison meat, but I REALLY like seeing them here in the wild. To keep the park’s herd healthy the rangers round them up every fall. They brand the babies and sell some of the others. This keeps the herd from getting too big; if the herd gets too big there won’t be enough grass for all of them, and some would starve.

I think it would be awesome to come and watch the round up one year. Can you imagine a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls riding on their horses to round up 1,000 to 1,400 buffalo. Holy cow!... or should I say “Holy bison!”

The road we drove on in the park to see the bison herd is called the Wildlife Loop. Also on this road are some wild burro. (Burro is just another name for a wild donkey.)

Even though they are free-ranging, they’re very used to people, so you can get up close and pet them! Skye LOVED this!

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In my next letter I’ll tell you about the Crazy Horse Memorial; Crazy Horse was a famous Native American warrior. Memorials can sometimes be boring, but not this one; they’re turning a mountain in to a statue!

I hope you had a wonderful week!

Bear Hugs and Unicorn Kisses,
Chris