by Michael Boyink /email@example.com
For some, it’s restaurants. For others, it’s antique shops.
For us, it was sunsets.
Especially when there was an interesting view for the sun to set over.
The gorgeous rock bluffs at Caprock Canyons State Park provided that.
The park also has bison. Wildflowers. And a campground.
But no cell coverage meant we couldn’t stay there.
We day-tripped instead. Parked the RV up the road a ways and came back to explore.
And see the sunset.
We drove way back. Found a nice ridge to park on. Set up our chairs. Made tea on the tailgate.
And settled in.
The light went sideways. Ridges and hilltops became defined. The bright, early stars started to show. The spaghetti-yowling of coyotes echoed in the distance.
I’m not sure if I heard it or smelled it first.
The sound was a light scraping on pavement. A soft whoosh of air.
Then a new odor on the air. Musky. Sweaty. Animalistic.
I threw a glance over my shoulder, back at the truck. And saw it.
A bison. Maybe 20 feet from the nose of the truck.
Nose down in the roadside grass.
Alone. Quiet. Oblivious.
But, coming our way.
Now, we weren’t exactly experienced cowboys. But we had been around animals. We’d stayed on private horse ranches. And on a rescue ranch with horses, alpacas, llamas, donkeys, goats and sheep.
But not so much around bison.
Free-range bison, even.
What was protocol here?
Speak gentle words of non-aggression? Stand up and appear tall? Back away slowly?
We’d read stories of bison attacking tourists in places like Yellowstone. We knew bison were fast runners. And are more likely to charge if provoked or cornered. Especially if there were calves around.
This one was alone. And looking content.
But those horns.
And that bulk.
And our lack of anything other than a cup of Earl Grey for a weapon.
And the distance between us and help of any sort.
We decided safe was better than being tomorrow’s viral news video.
We slowly got up and slipped back into the truck. Just for a few minutes. Long enough to let the bison walk peaceably off into the sunset.
We returned to our chairs, and watched the horizon blaze up in golds, oranges and yellows, then die down to just a thin band of blue light.
Pronounced “kitty quay,” the town of Quitaque, Texas and Caprock Canyons State Park are located about 100 miles southeast of Amarillo, Texas. Learn more at tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/caprock-canyons.