4 women from all over the country, 1 hotel room, 5 days of constant interaction, well isn’t that a terrifying thought? Hah! It was anything but. Why? Respect. Love. Passion. Strength. Individuality. Humor. These traits are all a common thread among us. A thread that will bind us in a friendship that few people will ever understand. And why were we thrown together? We were on a mission, to find all 163 horses in the park. Did we succeed? Nope. But we were damn close! Between laughter, stories, sadness, and 4 AM wake up calls we found and felt the heartbeat of the land, the land that the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park call home.
3 of us (Neali, Amber, and Me) have been to the park before, so it was a really cool experiencing it with someone (Danielle) who has never been. We enjoyed showing Danielle the ways of terrain and see her eyes light up when we took in a new sight. It reminded me of my first time there, taking it all in, the landscape, animals and people. TRNP drew us all in, and made us fall in love.
This trip I finally got to see some horses I have never seen in person before, and got to see some of my favorites. But to us, something was off in the park. Could it be the death of Blaze that threw all the horses into a tailspin? Bands that we typically see right away, were far out and on edge. Bands that we typically don’t see were close to the road. Some of us believe that the death of Blaze had more of an impact on this herd, more than anyone could have anticipated. But only the horses have the answer to that question. All in all, it’s always a good time seeing the horses.
The start of my journey began on Wednesday, May 10th, at EWR in NJ. I had a 6 AM flight to Minneapolis, MN where I met up with Danielle and Amber. We would then continue to Bismarck, ND together. I had already met Amber, but this was the first time I have ever met Danielle in person, she was OK. Just kidding I ended up loving her to pieces :) As I was getting off the plane from EWR it felt like a million miles away to my next gate where Danielle and Amber were waiting for me. I finally saw them and threw down my gigantic camera case and book bag and gave them a huge, sweaty, hug. A smile came across my face as I felt a pang of happiness in seeing these two. It's amazing how a simple thing such as the TRNP Wild Horses can bring such a connection to people. We were ready for our adventure to begin.
After a pretty smooth flight into ND we landed in Bismarck and we were off to pick up our rental car. Neali was flying in about 2 hours later so we had some time to kill.
The 2 hours went something like this. Panera, find low fee ATM, which ended up being a high fee ATM, and ice cream, lots of ice cream. As we were eating our ice cream we got a text from Neali saying her flight came in early. CRAPPPPPP. I basically ate the rest of my ice cream in one bite and high tailed it back to the car. Now, some would say my driving is a little... ahem scary... but I didn't care we needed to go get the fourth member of our group!!! As we drove super fast across town we finally got back to the airport and low and behold Neali was there, all smiles. She hopped in and we were on our way to the park.
By this point it was 1 or 2PM, I really don't remember, but it felt like the 2 hour drive to the park went by really quickly. We got to our hotel, threw everything in our room, and all looked at each other? "Well, should we drive the loop road?"
It was around 5PM or 6PM when we got into the park. The first band we saw was Georgia’s Boy. I’ve only seen Georgia’s Boy from afar, but seeing him and his band down by the river was a very peaceful experience. We watched quietly on a sandbar in the middle of the Little Missouri (Thanks to Danielle for going first to make sure we could cross it) and simply watched. We also got to meet Jeanne Tessier one of the many photographers of TRNP. Boy is she a force! Jeanne is very connected to the horses and is a huge advocate for them. Jeanne also lent me her monopod because well, I had a very big lens and couldn't fit anything else. I was also using poor Danielle's shoulder to help keep the camera steady :) Thanks Danielle and Jeanne!
Next we saw bachelors Granite’s Boy and Yoakam (yippy!). They are seriously like two peas in a pod. At first we only saw GB but we patiently waited a couple minutes and there came Yoakum over the hill. This was the first time I saw Yoakum so I was secretly jumping up and down for joy.
And this is where I believe in the power of attraction. We were simply talking about GB and Yoakam and boom there they were. THEN, we were talking about Flax and his band and how we would love to see the newest mare of the band, Kat. And what do you know? There they were standing in the street as if we summoned them there. Magical. However, we didn't spend to much time with them because there were cars blocking the way. But we did end up seeing them again on another day.
We then went up to the Jones Creek trail and spotted Copper, Democracy and their newest addition Cody. Cody, one of the two foals sired by Copper this year is absolutely beautiful. We saw them later on in our trip, so you will get more pictures of them.
Now the sun was coming down and we all felt like we ended on a pretty high note with Copper and and his band. We decided to head back into town and get some dinner. But as we were driving we saw more horses! Who oh who could it be?! Well it's the new bachelor group Marty and Trooper. However, Urban was no where to be seen. Marty is turning into a beautiful stallion.
Ok now we were really on a high note so we attempted to leave again and go eat, because we were STARVING. Just as we were about to exit the park we got a quick glimpse of Cloud, Chubby and Bert. They were all the way back in some shrubs, so we told them we would be back the next day to get some good pictures :)
We got to Little Mo's 5 minutes before the kitchen closed. And as fast as we could we yelled out to the waiter.
Then we went back to our hotel room and passed out.
And I'll leave you with that for our first day in the park.