Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dakota Zoo, Bismarck, North Dakota

46.8000 North Latitude
100.7990 West Longitude

I had originally intended to blog on a very regular basis. My thought was to get these missives out twice a week -- there is so much going on in my life that I want to make a record of it. However, finding the time after rising before light and putting in 10 or more hours a day at work, exercising, and going to the Elks Club for happy hour and camaraderie, is definitely challenging. I have recently returned from a short trip to Central America and thereabouts resolved to dutifully blog away upon my return. Well, a fortnight has passed and I have yet to live the dream!

I have found many times in my life that when I am faced with a difficult or inconvenient task it is best if I jump right in and start – as an old and very wise fellow once said “just do something, and deal with it that way!” So, here goes what I hope will become regular posts (and I will make up for lost time and past events that really ought to be recorded as the blogs get transmitted).

Upon returning from my excursion to Central America in early August I was promoted to Team Leader of FEMA’s Environmental and Historic Preservation Cadre in Bismarck, North Dakota (Disaster #1829 – Ice and Winter Floods). I thought that my days were full before as a project specialist and SME (subject matter expert) – I am now extremely busy with meetings, task management, reviews and reports – in addition to my archaeological and general historic preservation duties. This past Saturday the amount of projects in our cadre’s review queue was at a manageable level and a few colleagues and I decided to take part of the afternoon off and go to the zoo!

The Dakota Zoo, located in Sertoma Park along Riverside Park Road, dates from the early 1960s and occupies a little under 100 acres of ground adjacent to the east bank of the mighty Missouri River. A generous donation by a local dentist opened the zoo without charge to the proletariat. What a splendid gesture on part of a local businessman, and typical of the generosity of many North Dakotans that I have met! The day was beautiful and the zoo was absolutely packed with a couple of thousand visitors. I live in a hotel near the zoo and regularly walk and jog on a footpath running along its east and south sides. Large mammals are always watching me strut by and I am glad that I had the chance to make their acquaintance on a more formal basis. Some of my favorite inhabitants include: the horned frog, Burmese python, Emu, golden pheasant, Chinese Barking deer, brown faced spider monkeys, redneck wallabies, macaws, otters, tigers, Bactrian camels, gray and Mexican wolves, elk, Dall sheep, Highland cows, tamarins, lemurs, cockatoos, brown bear and, of course, the bison!

Our group had a great time on our outing. We walked and walked, listened to the band, and marveled at just how wonderful this zoo really is – and started by a family who simply loved and cared for animals – KUDOS and PLAUDITS!

I left the zoo late afternoon and proceeded to do some laundry. I used to drop my clothes off at a local tanning salon and the nice (bronzed) gals would wash and dry and fold for me (the tanning salon is adjacent to a laundry). I loved chit-chatting up the part-time laundresses and appreciated the convenience. However, the math worked out that it was far cheaper for me to enter the dreaded facility and do my own work. I now happily sit and read my FEMA Public Assistance Guidebook whilst my duds are dealt with!

I am off very early on the morrow to visit Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain, and hopefully will continue to pen a communiqué or two. Check out my Flickr blog for additional photos of my trip to the zoo ( ).

Ciao, Chinese-Buffalo (at large)

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