"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Friday, May 29, 2009

Beauty and the Beast

Living so far from any sort of regular civilization has become a group effort. Whenever someone goes to Bozeman or Cody the word is spread, money exchanged and items are picked up that are too expensive or not found in the park. The same goes for car rides. People arrived here by bus and those with cars give rides in the evening to those without vehicles to watch the wildlife.

After dinner last night I gave Brandon a ride to Lamar Valley, a place he hadn't been to yet. Upon arriving there we noticed a rather large group of people lining the roadway and parked in a pull off. There were families with children and what appeared to be professional photographers with cameras aimed at a tiny baby bison standing by the shore of the Lamar River. Earlier in the day during a river crossing with its mother the baby had been washed down the river and separated from the herd. Here it stood cold, lonely, scared and hungry. To make matters worse a coyote was about 10 feet away from it. Everyone was waiting to snap their shutters when the coyote attacked the baby. I understand that this happens all of the time in the wild, and it is an important part of the food chain, but I was surprised how many people wanted to actually watch the moment when the baby was attacked and killed. I, for one, did not want to stick around and watch it all unfold. The coyote had been there for hours and had actually curled up into a ball and was sleeping. In my mind I made the whole scenario into a Walt Disney movie ~ one where the coyote befriends the baby and both live happily every after as good buddies. This, I know, is a fallacy. After leaving we spotted a wolf heading that direction, a very dangerous situation for both the baby bison and coyote (wolves kill coyotes).

After cruising Lamar we headed back to Canyon with a short stop at the road to the petrified tree (which we also saw) to watch a moose. This is treat as moose populations have been declining in the park though there are quite a few sightings by Cooke City and on the road to Cody.

The two tripods I brought for my camera and spotting scope have been trashed. My floor supervisor, Jack, offered to sell me one of his nice used ones. I leaped at the chance and I'm now the new owner of a very nice tripod.

After cake and socializing with everyone in the EDR I took my new tripod with my scope to Hayden Valley. Right after I set it all up I had to take it down when a huge bull bison wandered my direction and threw a temper tantrum when a truck drove to fast right next to him. He huffed and puffed and snorted and tossed his hulking body all over the place. He put on quite a show but it didn't even occur to me to grab my video camera. I drove further and spotted a couple grizzlies and then the lightening and thunder started so I headed back to Canyon. Jack and his wife Rosie (my auditor) have invited me to join them on wildlife watching excursions. I won't pass up a chance to go with them since Jack just bought a huge spotting scope that I wouldn't mind getting a chance to peak through. But then I'll feel so inadequate with my puny little scope (which I actually love and have nicknamed 'Spot').

Wildlife Sightings:

Grizzly Bear: 25
Black Bear: 3
Big Horn Sheep: 2
Coyotes: 3
Martens: 2
Wolves: 4
Moose: 1
And lets not forget the bison, elk, snowshoe hares, and antelope: Priceless