71,000 Acres of Social Distancing

Last week was rough. Tuesday’s post making fun of people hoarding toilet paper seemed innocent enough at the time, but turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy when the shelves here in town were picked clean of TP and Tara announced we were kinda, sorta running low ourselves. Suddenly, the situation was a lot less amusing. And the dominoes kept falling: South Dakota reported its first cases of coronavirus, every sporting event is cancelled, schools are shutting down, and events are being postponed indefinitely. We are now officially “victims” ourselves as the Foreigner concert we were looking forward to next weekend in Deadwood is no longer happening.

I know I shouldn’t complain about such an insignificant thing in the overall context of what so many others are going through. I have friends who are being forced to cancel dream vacations and once-in-a-lifetime outings, so: perspective. It’s annoying and frustrating, but not the end of the world (yet, at least). We have a hotel room booked next Saturday in Lead because we’d planned on making a weekend of the concert, and unless we’re all quarantined or on lockdown or all the businesses are closed (knock on wood), we’re still going. Maybe we can find “Jukebox Hero” on an actual jukebox or something. It’s good that everybody is taking precautions, but my parents and in-laws both live in Washington state, and they aren’t about to start donning protective suits every time they leave the house. “Still gotta live. Still gotta enjoy life,” my MIL posted on Instagram yesterday from their local cineplex. Man, I echo that sentiment.

A few people have commented on the fact that we can still go out to museums and aren’t being forced to work from home. Yet. (Let’s just make “yet” the understood caveat here so I don’t have to keep typing it.) Living in a sparsely populated state has its advantages in times of crisis. We are much less affected than many others. If we still lived in Washington, we’d be in quarantine right now, because two employees with the company I worked for inadvertently exposed the whole office. It feels like we’ve dodged so many bullets since moving out here in 2018. That’s probably a good topic for a future post.

My stress level reached a climax on Friday. I’m in charge of maintaining our local events calendars at work, and so many things have been cancelled or postponed, I was struggling to keep up. I’d update one thing, and by the time I finished, two more needed editing. And then we ventured out in a snowstorm for sushi and grocery shopping, but when we got to Safeway, they weren’t just out of toilet paper: half the shelves were bare. No milk. No bread. No meat. No potato chips even. Everything was in disarray, cans and boxes knocked over while vacant-eyed shoppers pushed mostly-empty carts down the aisles mechanically as if in search of not only essential household items, but meaning to the madness. As with the grocery staples, this was a futile pursuit. The cashier looked like a zombie himself and said, “I’m not going to lie…I’m not having a great day.” I left the store kinda freaked out. The whole experience felt surreal, a scene I never thought I’d witness in my lifetime. I felt like a character in one of those post-apocalyptic dystopian novels I am so fond of reading.

Note to self: stop reading post-apocalyptic dystopian novels.

After such a rough week, we needed to do something fun yesterday. So we got up super early and hit the road for Custer State Park not long after sunrise. Not that there was a sun in the sky we could even see; we’d gotten 6″ of snow overnight and it was still falling when we left. The whole day was gloomy: foggy, with flurries and drizzle, and temps in the mid-20s. We got to the park, which is essentially a 71,000-acre wildlife reserve, and pretty much had the whole thing to ourselves. We spent two hours driving the Wildlife Loop. In that whole time we saw one snowplow, two other cars, and countless antelope and bison. I’d say we earned an A+ in social distancing on Saturday!


I’m not going to devote this entire blog to COVID-19. There’s plenty of media saturation already and I’m sure everybody is growing weary of the topic. Plus, we need lighthearted distractions. I’ll keep you updated on what’s going on out here, but I’ll also try to bring da funny.

Or at least plenty of pics.

Stay safe and stay sane, folks!

20 thoughts on “71,000 Acres of Social Distancing

  1. Mark, I freaking LOVE your photographs of the snow!!! OMG…please send some my way 🙂 And the pics of the buffalo are STELLAR!

    *thunderous applause*

    Well done, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope your tp supply lasts. Any flushable wipes left on the shelves? My hubs suggested, if we get desperate, to turn the squirt bottle I got from the hospital when I had baby Joe into a makeshift bidet to lessen tp use. I mean… I guess, if it really comes to that. (He may have been joking, not sure. But, really, it could come in handy.) One of the stores I went to had check-out lines down the aisles. When I got up to the register, I said to the guy, “So, slow day?” At least I made him smile. 🙂
    Great pics, as always. Thanks for those. Hope you still have plenty of alcohol.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t buy flushable wipes either, but I can see their value in times like this. Saw a headline about police in Washington state telling people to stop calling 911 because they’re out of tp. Both funny and sad, really.


  3. I always appreciate the bison photos. We are basically on lockdown now that bars and restaurants are shut down. I plan to visit some new hiking/walking spots while we are still allowed out of our homes!

    Such a bummer on the concert. We had tickets for Straight No Chaser on 4/4 for Middle Child’s birthday. She’s pretty upset. Now I’m worried about my birthday concert in May (Todd Rundgren). I refuse to think about summer plans being canceled!

    Take care, Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Todd Rundgren. “I Saw the Light” is one of my favorite 70s jams. I sure hope life is at least beginning to return to normal by then. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before our bars and restaurants follow suit.


  4. I like your photos and I agree with you that this topic has reached peak media saturation. Now is the time to share some normalcy and sanity, which in your case seems to be snowy bison pics. Okay, maybe not the most normal of things from my point of view, but at least you’re not focusing exclusively on panic, so thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Note to self: stop reading post-apocalyptic dystopian novels.”

    On the other hand they give us previews of what things may be like giving us a fighting chance of how to prepare. For starters I am stockpiling chocolate and cigarettes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I, for one, think the photos are fantastic! DO I EVER get to see snow covered buffalo? No, I do not.Thank you!
    Also, I saw Foreigner in 1984- or 1985, I dunno, I was in grade school, and the encore was Jukebox Hero and it was so exciting that to this day when I listen to it, I get goosebumps!
    I am one of the people who enjoys a damper put on activities, but I feel badly for you, and others like you, who had something big and happy to look forward to. 😦 Bummer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every single time we drive the Wildlife Loop, all year long, we come across herds of buffalo…so I really do feel fortunate about that.

      And I’m super jealous that you got to see Foreigner in their heyday. That’s awesome! I have been to a million concerts and seen almost everybody, but a lot of them were in the twilight of their careers. They can still rock, though! We saw John Mellencamp, Bob Seger, and REO Speedwagon last year and all put on great shows.

      Liked by 1 person

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