In movies and stories, the thunder of buffalo stampeding across the American plains remains an iconic memory.
In the 1700s, tens of millions of buffalo dominated the West — and were driven nearly to extinction.
Luckily, even today, you have a chance to thrill to the thunder of hooves on the rolling plains. The iconic animal of the Old West still rumbles across the prairies in South Dakota, and you can be there for the roundup.
Every September, park rangers and volunteer cowboys round up the Custer State Park buffalo herd to give them their annual vaccinations and to check the health and size of the herd. It’s an event witnessed by 20,000 spectators from all over the world.
The Custer State Park buffalo herd spends the year wandering freely through the 71,000-acre fenced park. Along with the buffalo, there are bighorn sheep, elk, deer, mountain goats, antelopes, coyotes, foxes, and mountain lions.
The buffalo herd began in 1914 when the state bought 36 buffalo from a rancher. The herd expanded, and later the state bought 100 more buffalo from a Native American reservation. Today the herd numbers 1,450. The roundup has been an annual event for 56 years.
The 110 miles of parkland also have vast trails and scenic views.
In 2021, the roundup is Friday, September 24, 2021, with activities beginning on September 23, 2021.
American bison by the numbers – (National Bison Association and U.S. Dept of Interior)
* Estimated size of the North American herd: 385,000.
* Estimated size prior to 1600: 30 million to 60 million
* Estimated number in the mid-1880s: 700 to 1,000.
* Bison on tribal land today: 20,000
* 2025 Bison herd goal: 1 million.
* State with the largest bison population: South Dakota, 33,000
* The oldest bison herd: Yellowstone National Park, 4,800. The herd has continuously existed since prehistoric times.
* Bison bulls weigh up to 2,000 pounds and stand six feet tall.
* Baby bison are called red dogs.
* Bison run 35 miles an hour.
Seven ways to travel responsibly
Are you planning a trip? If you want to conduct yourself in a manner that’s mindful of environmental, economic, and socio-cultural concerns while you’re abroad, adopt the following behaviors.
1. Take only the essentials
Packing light reduces the weight of your luggage and can help minimize greenhouse gas emissions. It also gives you space to bring back handmade souvenirs that support the economy in the regions you visit.
2. Put trash in the right place
Make sure you clean up after yourself. If you can’t immediately find an appropriate place to get rid of your garbage, carry it with you until you do.
3. Conserve water and energy
Going on vacation doesn’t give you the green light to be wasteful. Take short showers, and don’t leave your hotel room lights on when you’re away for the day.
4. Follow the rules
Whether you’re visiting a beach, park, or tourist attraction, respect the associated rules and comply with all guidelines that are in place.
5. Offset your carbon emissions
Estimate your trip’s carbon footprint with an online calculator. Then, help counteract the total by purchasing carbon offsets from a recognized organization.
6. Share your experience
When you return home, talk to your friends and family about your adventure and give them tips on traveling responsibly.
7. Plan your next trip
When organizing your next trip, consider trying slow tourism. This concept involves traveling for a prolonged period slowly to have a more meaningful experience.
To plan an excursion aligned with your values, don’t hesitate to contact a local travel agent for advice.
Five things to consider before driving abroad
Are you planning a trip abroad and thinking of renting a car while you’re there? Follow these tips to ensure you’re prepared.
1. Driver’s license. Depending on your destination, you may need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive on the roads legally.
2. Rules of the road. Find out about speed limits, tolls, and alcohol regulations in the country you’re visiting. If you have to drive on the left-hand side, watch a few videos on the internet. This will help you anticipate the maneuvers you may need to make in the opposite direction, such as changing lanes and going through roundabouts.
3. Signage. You may have difficulty interpreting the road signs if you’re not visiting an English-speaking country. Do your research so you know what to expect.
4. Child car seats. If you’re traveling with young children, ask the car rental agency to provide you with car seats. Some American models don’t meet the safety standards in every country.
5. Insurance. Determine if your insurance provides overseas coverage or if you need to purchase insurance through the car rental agency. Also, make sure you have sufficient liability coverage.
Visit travel.state.gov and talk to a travel agent for valuable advice. They’ll tell you what to look for and what vehicle is best for the region you’re visiting. Have a good trip!
Find your flight — in a parallel reality
A busy Midwestern airport has a new feature that’s straight out of Star Trek.
Instead of losing precious minutes scanning a long list of hundreds of flights to find their information, Delta passengers at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport can enter Delta’s new parallel reality experience to get an instant personalized itinerary.
Passengers scan their boarding passes and look up at a large display screen to see their name, frequent flyer status, departure gate, flight number, and flight time. Their information is invisible to everyone else — meaning that the person standing next to them sees something completely different. Passengers who don’t scan their passes only see a blank screen.
The board, which was unveiled on June 28 after years of development, uses motion sensors to detect passengers as they approach the gate, while facial recognition technology identifies those who stop to scan their passes. The specialized screen, with pixels that can simultaneously project different colors in many different directions, flashes information that is only visible where the identified passenger is standing. Up to 100 passengers at a time can use the screen to view their personalized itineraries in their preferred languages.
Detroit is the only airport in the world with parallel reality so far. Still, Delta eventually plans to roll this technology out to other airports across the country and the globe.
Air travel tips: flu season
Are you planning to fly during flu season? Here are some helpful tips to avoid contracting or spreading the virus when you take to the skies.
• Maintain impeccable hand hygiene. This applies both on and off the plane. Sinks aren’t always accessible. Therefore, keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry-on luggage or purse is a good idea.
• Avoid borrowing potentially contaminated items. Avoid asking for a pillow or blanket on the plane. Other people with the flu may have used these items. Instead, bring your own pillow, blanket, or travel kit.
• Stay hydrated. You’re more vulnerable to infection if your nose and throat are dry. Drink water or fruit juice fortified with vitamin C, or chew sugar-free gum to keep your mouth moist.
• Be respectful of others. If you’re sick and cannot postpone your trip, take steps to protect other passengers. For example, disinfect your hands often, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (or, better yet, wear a surgical mask) and touch as few surfaces as possible.
Depending on where you’re going, you may need to visit a travel health clinic a few weeks before you leave to get the appropriate vaccinations and purchase health insurance. Enjoy your trip!
How to navigate busy airports this Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is one of the year’s busiest travel times, as millions of Americans take to the sky to visit loved ones. Crowds, however, can make airports a stressful place. Here are some tips on how to remain calm and collected before your flight.
Pack and dress smart
Do your part to make the security line move quickly by packing your bags as lightly as possible. Make sure electronic devices are easy to access, wear shoes that slip on and off without laces, and avoid wearing a belt with a metal buckle.
Ship your gifts
You may want to arrive at your in-laws with presents in hand, but traveling with gifts will make your luggage heavier. The airline may even end up charging you extra fees for overweight bags. Instead, consider shipping your gifts ahead of time.
With so many passengers and planes in the air, it’s not unusual for things to go wrong. Flights may get canceled, or you could be denied boarding due to an oversold flight.
The best advice is to avoid getting angry at customer service representatives. Airline employees will be more inclined to help you if you can stay calm and show empathy. Also, be aware of your rights as a passenger under federal law. This way, you’ll know what you’re entitled to if you’re denied boarding.
Finally, to ensure your flight is as pleasant as possible, be sure to stay hydrated, wear comfortable clothes, and use a lumbar pillow to support your lower back.
Affordable vacations that are a ton of fun
Inflation has wreaked havoc on budgets for many households and prompted folks to start tightening their belts. That makes trips to Disney World, and its hundred dollar-plus (per day) tickets, a tough cost to swallow. Ditto for four-star resorts and visits to expensive cities. So, where can you take a vacation on the cheap without sacrificing fun?
Florida is famed for its beaches and draws huge crowds. Those crowds, however, can drive hotel and flight costs up. Head to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and you can enjoy warm waters and beautiful white sand beaches. Hotels, meanwhile, are often cheaper than their Florida counterparts. Don’t mind cooler water? Consider beachside resorts along Lake Michigan.
When you think of museums, you might first think of New York or Washington, D.C. These cities are home to some of the most famous museums in the world. Some, like the Smithsonian, are even free. That said, hotel rooms are often expensive. You can often enjoy cheaper hotels in Philadelphia while also exploring America’s colonial past. Famed museums and sites in Chicago, like the Adler Planetarium and Field Museum, offer free museum days.
A four-star hotel in the United States can easily cost north of $300 per night. If you head somewhere with a much lower cost of living, you might find much cheaper but still luxurious accommodations. In the Dominican Republic, for example, you can often find three and four-star hotels near the beach that charge less than $100 per night.
You don’t have to skip theme parks, by the way. While the biggest theme parks are often quite expensive, you can patronize smaller but still amazing theme parks, like Cedar Point, where a one-day ticket costs $49.99. Cedar Point’s Halloweekends, in particular, are great fun this time of year.