"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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bear(ly) Hanging On

I witnessed something that rates very high on the cuteness scale. By Roosevelt I saw a tiny black bear cub that had climbed a lodgepole pine and out onto on of it's branches. The branch was bobbing up and down and the little cub was hanging on for dear life. And of course my camera malfunctioned and I missed possibly the best picture ever. Later on Dunraven Pass I saw a cinnamon colored black bear wandering around. It was an excellent black bear night.

I went to my 3rd ranger talk tonight. This one was about the Yellowstone River and it's geology and the wildlife found around it. It was very interesting but I had a hard time paying attention since I was having to swat the mosquitoes that decided to join the audience.

Bright and early this morning I got to listen to some coyotes howling somewhere in the Canyon Village area. It is a sound that can stop a person and send them into a trance. If a person closes their eyes they can almost picture them throwing their heads back and howling. I love the sound of the coyotes and they are quite entertaining to watch when they are mousing. I also saw some mule deer by Mammoth today. And after a 2 week absence I spotted one of the snowshoe hares hopping around by the dorm.

Today at work I was at a register in groceries. I think that I may be spending every Sunday in that department. It was very busy this afternoon and I certainly don't mind that as it makes the time go fast. It does limit the amount of time I get to visit with people but it does appear that just about everyone is in a good mood. They are in Yellowstone after all.

Wildlife Sightings

Grizzly Bear: 31
Black Bear: 18
Moose: 2
Wolves: 12
Coyotes: 5

Robyn's Buffalo

Last night I saw another grizzly on Dunraven Pass. It was doing some digging and chewing. It must of found something tasty to eat. When I got back to Canyon I found that 2 bison had decided to wander around the dorms and then into the field between the dorm and some cabins. We watched them for awhile and when of them decided to continue walking straight toward a couple children Bill called out to the kids to move away. About that time Linda yelled out her window "Robyn, behind you!" I jumped and twirled around only to find Vern and Linda laughing . I got her back when she was sitting quietly with her computer. Now any bison that wanders too closely to anyone is labeled "Robyn's Buffalo". Dave says that I've spent so many years with animals that they must be naturally drawn to me (he also added that maybe I excrete bison pheromones).

I'm sad to report that about 1 1/2 weeks ago 4 Yellowstone Bison were killed. Unfortunately for the bison they do not realize that there is an invisible boundary that can mean life or death for them. 4 bison have been crossing out of the park into Montana just north of West Yellowstone and were eventually killed. Bison that leave the park can be either shot or herded up and sent to slaughter.

It is a beautiful clear day today, maybe all the rain, clouds and hail are behind us. It is about 72 degrees; not too hot and not too cold. For my break I decided to head down to Fishing Bridge and about 1 mile into my drive I was beginning to wonder if it was a good idea or not as I immediately found myself in a bison jam (the same 2 that visit the dorms). After eventually clearing that one I found myself in another in Hayden Valley. I eventually made it to Fishing Bridge and back with time to blog before going back to work for 3 hours.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bison Toss

I have had problems accessing the computer lately. Too many people, too little computer. The big news from Canyon Village is from this past Wednesday. A woman from Spain was on the pay phone outside. She had her back to the road and didn't realize that 2 bison were walking behind her. Before she knew it one of them came up behind her and tossed her into the air. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance but her injuries were minor. It is probably the same bison that hangs out by our dorm (right outside the back door). Walking at night a person needs to be careful or they could just possibly run into a bison. Dawn, the grocery lead, told me about witnessing some parents last year by Old Faithful trying to actually set their toddler on the back of a bison to take the childs picture. A ranger saw and threw an absolute fit. People can be very ignorant about how dangerous the animals here are.

I went with Carl last night on the north loop. We saw a grizzly on Dunraven Pass, a black bear just north of Tower and a coyote by Mammoth. He also showed me the den of a coyote with her pups, but they were nowhere to be seen. I'll keep an eye for them whenever I go by there now. Carl and I always have a great time when we get together. His daughter and her husband are coming today and it will be nice to meet them. Carl told me that he used to be a mathematician for the NOAA. Interesting man.

Today, for my lunch break, I decided to drive over to Artist Paintpots but the parking lot was so full there was no place to park. I did see a little coyote trotting along the roadside, though.

I worked in Confections yesterday. The bonus of working there is that I get tips, which is split amongst everyone who works that day. It's not a lot but it's always fun to get a little sack full of change the next morning. I'm in the Bull Pen today, where I work by the knife display and binoculars. I wish I knew more about binoculars but it seems that just being able to chat about the wildlife works with selling them for me.

Wildlife Viewings

Grizzly Bear: 31
Black Bear: 16
Moose: 2
Coyotes: 6
Wolves: 12

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Blue Skies

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sky was bright blue and not a cloud in sight. During my afternoon break I took a drive to Hayden Valley (saw nothing) and up Dunraven Pass. It was great to open the sunroof and drive in the sun.

Last night I took the north loop with my intended destination being Lamar Valley. By Roaring Mountain, north of Norris, I watched a grizzly bear meander through the grass and trees and then came upon a ram grazing on the side of the road by Roosevelt. Upon arriving in Lamar I saw a huge herd of bison crossing over a mountain through a pass. They were all running at top speed down the side of the mountain, across the grass and then eventually over the road between cars that were parked to watch. There had to be a couple hundred bison and it was quite a show. I pulled over and took out my video camera and watched in absolute amazement. I imagined how the west was before the buffalo slaughter of the 1800's. It must of been spectacular seeing the huge herds on the plains.

I had originally planned to meet up with Jackie and John in Lamar Valley to watch a wolf den where there were pups. I never made it as I turned around after spending quite a bit of time watching the bison. On Dunraven Pass I managed to watch another grizzly root around on the side of Mount Washburn. Upon returning to Canyon I hurriedly grabbed my flashlight and headed off to listen to the fireside ranger talk. It was very interesting. It was a combination of Yellowstone history and the sights, sounds and smells (rotten eggs!) of Yellowstone. Since the talks are different each night of the week I decided I'll try and make the one again tonight.

This morning, with my day off, I drove to Roosevelt via Norris and Mammoth. I watched a bull elk with a huge velvety rack dozing just off the side of the road. Also I watched a couple of black bears wander through the trees. North of Norris I had to stop for a bison jam when 6 bull bison decided to cross the road. I think they are the same bison that have been causing traffic havoc in that part of the park. They don't seem to wander to far from the road and I believe that they enjoy standing in the road being the center of attention. That's ok to me, I take my time during bison jams to get my squirt bottle and roll of paper towels out and clean the interior of the car. A few of my co-workers say that I should start walking down the road cleaning windshields for tips. We're an amusing bunch.


Grizzly Bears: 30
Black Bears: 15
Moose: 2
Coyotes: 4
Wolves: 12

Monday, June 22, 2009

Snow Days

It may be the second day of summer, and according to the Weather Channel it appears much of the country is toasty warm, but it actually snowed here in Canyon this morning. It was just flurries which didn't stick to the ground, but it was cold and windy. Yesterday it rained and hailed a few times during the day. By this evening it was a bit warmer (in the 50's) and with a little help from the car's heater I was able to open the sun roof and drive the north loop. I passed what appeared to be a bear jam (I didn't see the bear) by Roosevelt but I decided not to stop, there was one angry ranger there who was busily herding people back to their cars. I watched the horses and riders ride through a herd of buffalo as they came back from their dinner. There wasn't much else out as far as wildlife goes. I did spot some elk and bison and I saw the Tetons in the distance as I came down Dunraven Pass.

On Saturday and Sunday it was free day to get into the park. I would of thought it would of been busier. People were in a fairly good mood even though many of them had to put up with the lousy weather. Better weather is on its way.

Last week I stopped at the bookstore in West Yellowstone. I picked up a couple good books. One is about whether Merriwether Lewis commited suicide or was murdered. I can pretty much figure the book is about the authors theory that he was murdered since it is an accepted thought that he committed suicide. It should be a good read. I also bought, and currently reading, a nonfiction book about families moving west during the 1800's. The first part of the book is about a family moving to the Oregon Territory in the 1850's and it includes letters written between the family members that moved and members that stayed behind. It is very interesting but a very sad and tragic story.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

North Rim Trail

This morning started off beautiful. Lots of sun and fairly warm. I had woke up every 45 minutes through the night so I was pretty tired but I managed to drag myself out of bed at 7:00, throw some clothes and a hat on, eat breakfast and meet Carl for our morning hike. We drove 2 vehicles and left one at the Lower Falls overlook and then we both drove down to Inspiration Point to start our hike on the North Rim Trail. The trail has spectacular views of the Yellowstone River in the canyon and lots of drop offs. I certainly didn't get to close to the edge. I took some pictures along the way; a few of Carl and I even turned my camera over to him to get the rare picture of myself by the canyon. I saw evidence of bison and elk having used the trail and since I forgot my bear spray in my room I was ultra careful about my surroundings. Luckily the only wildlife I saw was the occassional chipmunk.

Carl and I decided to next try the trail from the Lower Falls overlook to the brink of the Upper Falls next time. Maybe on Tuesday after work we'll do it. We were to do it tomorrow morning but I think I'll use my last day of the late shift sleeping in. On Monday I will be on the early shift and I will need to be at work at 7:15 am.

The body of the man who jumped into the Lower Falls still has not been found though the park service reportedly found his clothing in the river. A few years ago an employee in the park drove off the road into the Yellowstone River late at night and her remains (actually her skull) were not found for 4 years in Gardiner many miles down stream. The boy scout who drowned in the river about 6 years ago was never found. It's a wild and dangerous river in spots that sometimes keeps its victims.

It was a good thing that we hiked this morning and not during our afternoon break (3:00 - 5:45) as it started to rain right after I got off. It has rained nearly everyday for the past 3 weeks. At least it seems to be getting warmer out.

My day at work consisted of me cashiering in the Bull Pen. I enjoy working all over the store in different areas. Sometimes I am in the front of the Bull Pen where I can look outside at the mountains when it's slow and sometimes I'm in the back where the knives and binoculars are. There I have a view of the restrooms and the warehouse (and the apparel dept. which makes up for the other view).

Friday, June 19, 2009

According to the Jackson Hole newspaper the person who went over the edge into the canyon was a 20 year old man from Utah. He apparently threw himself into the Yellowstone River at the brink of the Lower Falls. It also said that his body hasn't been found at the printing of the article (yesterdays paper). I heard helicopters over the canyon on Wednesday and it is an almost impossible river the access for about 20 miles.

Last night I went with Rosie, Brandon and Debbie to Hayden Valley to look for animals. We ran into the ranger from the previous evening. He was telling the charging bison story to a small group of people. We didn't see much except for one grizzly. There were wolves in the area but we were unable to see them.

During break today I took Neil down to Hayden and saw very little. Not surprising since it is finally a warm (65 degrees) sunny day and most animals will find a cool shady spot to stay in. I then took him to Artist Point to see a spectacular view of the Lower Falls.

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 Carl and I are going to hike the Canyon Rim Trail since we don't work until 11:30. I haven't hiked with Carl since our hike to Trout Lake a few weeks ago. My days off were switched so I don't have the time to go out with him like I used to. I still will find time to have him teach me how to flyfish.

2009 Wildlife Viewing

Grizzly Bears: 28
Black Bears: 13
Moose: 2
Coyotes: 4
Wolves: 12

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Charged By A Bison

Last night Brandon and I went to Hayden Valley to look for wildlife. On the south end of the valley we noticed 3 pullouts full of cars and people with cameras and video cameras. I pulled off the side of the road to the south of the last pullout. There was a group of people with a ranger about 200 feet out from the last pullout so we decided to cross over to the group and see the grizzly down by the river they were watching. We decided to head back to the car so Brandon and I walked diagonally to the road toward the car and were about 100 - 125 feet from the group when I heard someone yell "Look Out!" and then saw a big bull bison charging straight toward us (we didn't see any bison in the area when we left the car or the whole time out with the group). I yelled for Brandon to RUN and we turned around and ran back to the ranger as that was the only direction we could run to. I

am not a runner and running at 8,000 feet is quite a challenge and for that time I honestly didn't think I was going to make it back to that group. But we did and thats when I saw the fear in the ranger's face as he yelled for the group to stay together, look big and run for the road. People ran, cried, screamed and some had small children that they were trying to run with or carry. The road was jammed with cars and people watching this unfold, many with video cameras capturing the stampeding people trying to stay out of the way of this rogue bison as it snorted, ran, twisted and turned.

I ran for the road and once I was at the edge, with my car further down the road, I started looking for vehicles where someone would let me in. That's when I heard the ranger discharge his firearm into the ground trying to scare the bison away from a father and daughter that it had gotten within 15 feet of. The shot didn't stop the bison but it slowed him down. It eventually stopped then charged toward the road. I then heard, "He's on the road!" which is now where I was. Brandon I had gotten seperated and I had the keys to the locked car and he later told me he was searching for someplace to hide and was considering jumping into the bed of a pickup truck. He didn't but hid behind some vehicles and finally made it to the car. I continued to run down the road and made it to the car. I jumped in it, very shaky, tired and scared gasping for breath. I then watched the rogue bison throw his tantrum on the other side of the road and it eventually strolled off.

Brandon and I returned to the scene of the chaos later in the evening to gauge distances. We figure the video will end up on youtube and then we will be able to see how it all unfolded without having that blind fear haze our memory. I will say that this was one of the most (if not the most) terrifying experiences of my life. The whole group literally ran for our lives. Bison are very dangerous and those rogue bison are the extreme. I believe in an earlier post I had written about a wiley bison in Hayden Valley that I had watched earlier this year and I'm thinking that the bison from last night and that one are one in the same.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tragedy at The Falls

Tragedy occured yesterday at The Falls. I heard the sirens but it wasn't until a couple hours later that I heard what had happened. The initial story is that a father and son (approx. 10 - 12 years old) were arguing. In the heat of the argument the boy jumped over the retaining wall and into the falls. As we all know how stories are intially, the truth may be different from this. However, it is true that a boy went over the falls (which one, the Upper, the Lower of both is unclear at this time) and was killed. Helicopters were brought in to search for his body and at this time it is unclear if it has been found. However this story comes out it is a horrible horrible situation and my co-workers and I were saddened by it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Split Shifts

The store went to the long hours today (7:30am to 9:30pm) and so now I have split shifts. My hours this week are 11:30 - 3:00 and 5:45 - 9:45. Working the late shift has a definate drawback, I can't go to Hayden Valley at night but I suppose I can go in the mornings. I will have to wait until next week to take in the ranger talks that are every evening at 9:30.

This morning I did my laundry and layed around watched tv in my sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I sat around outside with the two snowshoe hares that live by the dorms. They are very comfortable with people around and one even sat under a tree about 12 feet from me and fell asleep.

I was in Confections again today. This afternoon I did the fudge and the ice cream and this evening I did the ice cream, fudge and was the barista. I never know where I will be or what I will do until I come in the mornings. I usually have to check early as I have to wear my hair up under my hat when I work in Confections.

We got in 14 new employees today. They are all from Asian countries and none of them really speak English. This should be interesting as some of them are to be servers in The Fountain and some in Confections. We are happy to have some other employees.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow lies the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. After a day of cold and rain the skies finally cleared and the sun shone through so I took my usual north loop. After spying on 1 bison and a handful of elk I decided the evening was a dud. Then after crossing over Dunraven Pass and coming down the south side I came around the corner and saw in the horizon a beautiful rainbow crossing over the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It was picture time! When I returned I headed to the EDR for the pop, popcorn and peanut party. A bunch of us also decided to play the game Apples to Apples. It was a great time.

I noticed this evening that the park service has been busy yesterday and today puting up no parking markers that line the roads in areas that have high bear and big horn sheep sightings. It is now impossible to park along the side of the road in these areas. It's a good thing, too many people parking on the side and approaching the wildlife too closely. There will probably be a bad side, many people just park their cars in the middle of the road and wander away, camera in hand, leaving a line of cars behind them that are unable to proceed. We'll have to wait and see how the people handle the situation.

I started my workday in the bull pen ready to start taking inventory on the knives. Confections was understaffed and when it got busy I was sent over to give a hand. After my afternoon break I was sent back to Confections to be the barista. I had done this one day before, and to be honest, I wasn't too excited to go back and face that machine knowing I was now the one to run it alone for the afternoon. I was intimidated to say the least. Luckily, the afternoon was slow and only a few wanted lattes and such. More wanted ice cream (on a cold, windy and rainy day?) so I helped out with that too. I was a success on the machine and I dare say that I actually enjoyed it. Bring on the coffee mobs!

2009 Wildlife Sightings

Grizzly Bear: 25
Black Bear: 13
Moose: 2
Coyote: 4
Wolves: 12

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The 5 Bears

Getting on the computer has been an issue lately. When I get on it I am having problems getting Blogger and Hotmail to load. It's really been a hit and miss lately.

I am back in Confections cashiering. I am rather relieved that my barista time is over. Half the time I want to grab the espresso machine off the counter and throw it out the door. The lines can be huge for the ice cream, fudge and regular coffee and it slows everything down incredibly when large espresso, latte, etc. orders are put in. Making specialized coffees can be a time consuming ordeal in tight quarters and only 3 people working the area.

I have also found out that I have a few pet peeves, which are shared by the majority of cashiers. People for some reason think it is really helpful to give a cashier the exact change. That's fine but digging for 3 pennies in the bottom of a purse with 20 people in line behind you is not exactly helpful. If a person wants to get rid of a bunch of excess change a fast paced check out is not really a good time to do it. If no one is in line that's one thing but long lines is another. And the biggest one is after I start giving back change it's really hard to switch gears when a person miraculously finds some extra change to throw in. Yes, it's easy math but a cashier is usually 2 steps ahead of themselves and the brain has to come to a halt and back up and figure out the new total to give back. Believe me (every cashier I have talked to hates when this is done) it may be easy for the customer to figure out the change because they are not under pressure to remember orders and hurry the people through the line. And that's my rant for the day on what is not helpful to a cashier. By the way, all of the above has happened numerous times to me and I've handled each one fairly well and with a smile but you should hear what I'm saying in my head.

Last night I drove the north loop and took Brandon and Dave along. Dave does not have a car and this was his first time being in that part of the park in over 4 weeks of being here. It was a good wildlife spotting night as we saw a total of 5 black bears, two were a mother bear and her cub. We also saw a couple elk with huge racks right by the side of the road. We all got pictures and videos (except for Dave because he forgot his camera) of each of the bears. In Mammoth we stopped to watch a herd of elk laying in the yards of the houses there. With them were all of their elk calves nibbling on grass. It's the closest I've been to the calves this year as the other ones I've seen have been off in the distance. Mammoth is a great place to see elk. They walk down the road there like the bison do in other parts of the park.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Kid on the Block

This week Neil was the newest kid on the block. He is from Paris and speaks so-so English. A person really has to listen and concentrate when talking to him. He has spent his time here working as a custodian but on his time off he has nothing to do but watch tv. This morning Hank & Mickie took Neil to Lake to try out the employee exercise equipment in Lake Lodge. We have exercise equipment in Canyon but it consists of 3 machines.

This afternoon I took a turn escorting Neil around and took him on my favorite drive, the north loop. He had only seen bison and 2 elk so I was hoping to show him some other wildlife. Right across the road from Roaring Mountain I saw a coyote leaping over logs but Neil missed it. We eventually found a herd of big horn sheep that were been encroached upon by a hoard of people. Luckily 2 rangers showed up to save the animals. North of Tower we came across a black bear browsing through the brush. Further down the road we came across our second black bear wandering through the downfall.

After returning to Canyon my afternoon was pretty mundane. It consisted of laundry, reading a book and almost taking a nap. We got a couple new people today and we are expecting kids from Taiwan on Monday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's a Bust

With the day off I decided to go to West Yellowstone and track down a dentist (I cracked a molar) and try out the internet cafe. I left Canyon at 8:30 and stopped at Fishing Bridge and then proceeded on the south loop over to Madison Jct. and then west to West Yellowstone. About 2 miles west of the junction I came across a couple buffalo wandering down the middle of the east lane. I got by easily but there were 75 - 100 cars and buses stuck behind the meandering buffalo. Once in West Yellowstone I stopped at the visitor center only to find out that West Yellowstone does not have a dentist. Then it was off to the internet cafe with plans of uploading pictures onto this blog. The employee was helping me get all set up but for some reason I could not get on the internet. I struck out twice in West Yellowstone.

I went back into the park and about 1/2 mile from Madison Jct. I stopped to watch a coyote moving around the fallen trees. He was obviously looking for some little rodent to have for lunch. I decided to head north, something I really didn't want to do because of the possible 30 minute delay for road construction. I ended up cruising right through it with only a 5 minute delay. I went all the way to Gardiner in search of a dentist. I stopped at the Chamber of Commerce only to learn that Gardiner also does not have a dentist. Another bust. Tomorrow I will locate one in Livingston and make an appointment for next week.

On my way back into the park I stopped to watch 4 adult female big horn sheep and 3 little babies crawling around the rocky slopes. It's like the they have suction cups for feet to hold them onto the side of the mountain. I headed east where I came across a whole other herd of big horn sheep by Tower Falls. At this point I've decided that I won't continue on with my big horn sheep count on my wildlife sightings. But I'll certainly mention when I see them. Further on from Tower, right before Dunraven Pass, I came across a huge grizzly digging around on the side of a hill. It was incredible and the closest I've come to one (I was in my car). Unfortunately, I couldn't stop and had to keep moving without getting a picture of it.

Jackie and John invited me to their RV this evening to use their Verizon internet connection. Thus the picture of the wolf I uploaded. They are nice people from Missouri and they brought their 2 dogs with them so I got a few nice sloppy kisses from them. At their RV they have a place to have a campfire so we are planning on having a fire and roast hot dogs when the weather is a little warmer. They said I can use their internet whenever so I'll try and upload some more pictures in the near future.

Wolf by Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Why Did the Bear Cross the Road?

It snowed overnight so the ground and trees were white this morning. The snow doesn't last long on the ground, except for a few piles that are in the shade. The ground is very wet with all the rain and snow and the rivers are high and running fast. It didn't much today but I did run into a few sprinkles this evening and I did see some rain falling in the distance.

I worked in gifts today. I started off cashiering and then went to stocking shelves. The store had streaks where it was busy and then quiet. When it gets busy it is very busy. There will be 24 more employees coming in next week. There was an article in the Billings newspaper saying that the Park tourism was up 20% in May from last year and the rest of the year looks like it will be up, too. That's great but unfortunately there will not be as many employees here as there have been in years past. I guess we will all be busy this summer. It makes the time go by faster.

After dinner I decided to drive the north loop, which is my favorite. I stopped and watched a moose by the petrified tree for awhile. It was just grazing on a hillside that had dead ghostly trees from a previous fire there. On the south side of Dunraven Pass, about 3 miles north of Canyon, I watched a black bear (that was actually brown in color) grazing on the side of the road. It eventually crossed the road to the delight of all the people watching. It just went to the other side to eat grass there. I guess the grass was greener on the other side of the road. Or it just wanted to get to the other side.

2009 Wildlife Sightings

Grizzly Bears: 25
Black Bears: 6
Big Horn Sheep: 5
Wolves: 12
Moose: 2
Coyotes: 4

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Espresso Express

I started out the morning cashiering in gifts and then was moved back to Confections. It was time for me to learn how to use the espresso machine. I've never had a latte or an espresso and so it was interesting learning what goes into those drinks. I have to say that espressos look and taste quite disgusting. My first latte was a double and and I wasn't too impressed with the taste of that one either. A vanilla latte wasn't too bad. Lattes and espressos are very popular and I'm glad the machine is up and going as people were getting testy without their morning shot of strong coffee. It can take quite awhile to make an order so it can get quite backed up with the coffee making business and I have to hustle.

It rained and snowed again today but the sun would peak through at times. The temps were in the 40's and after work I went to Hayden. Not much out except for the bison and elk, the weather is not conducive to wildlife watching. I did get to watch a series of rain and snow clouds move across the valley and the snow fall on the mountains. It's very impressive to watch.

I finished my grizzly book the other day and started on my wolf book. It's a thick book and decided to put it off and start my Native American History in Yellowstone book. Very interesting and I hope to see some of the sights that are told about in the book. I'll start at the obvious place, Sheepeaters Cliff. The Sheepeaters were part of the Shoshone tribe and lived in the park and their major food source was big horn sheep. Many of the Shoshone bands were named after what they ate. The Sheepeaters were eventually forced from the Yellowstone area and forced onto a reservation. Sheepeaters Cliff is an area south of Mammoth where they lived.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Road Closures

The snow this morning continued and got heavier. The roads out of Canyon were finally closed as cars were having trouble crossing from Norris to Canyon. And, of course, Dunraven Pass was closed, and still is. Tour buses had come to Canyon and they were stranded here for a few hours and people checking out of the campground, lodge and cabins were unable to go anywhere either. The electricity flashed on and off a few times but luckily did not go out all together. We sold a lot of snacks, books and cards to help people bide their time. The roads eventually opened after a couple hours after the snowplows cleared the roads. I also heard about an accident down by West Thumb but I don't know the details. In the end we got about 6 inches of snow.

I think my last day in groceries was today. I will now spend my days cashiering in gifts. The stores hours will start being longer tomorrow. We will open at 8:00am and close at 8:00pm and after another week or so the hours will be 7:30am until 9:00pm. Split shifts will start tomorrow.

After work I went to Hayden Valley. There is still a powdering of snow on the ground there (most of the snow melted this afternoon). Looking to the mountains I see that most of them are covered in white again. I found one of the bison herds by the road and it appears to be one that came from the west. There were tons of babies. Most of the adults were taking their early evening siesta while the babies were just starting to awaken and had taken to running, jumping and butting each each other. A couple had even taken to the road to stop traffic. They learn early.

All Cozy in my Fleece

I missed my regular blog appointment last night. Between laundry, my nightly Hayden Valley visit and an earlier than usual bedtime I didn't get a chance to sit down. Yesterday I was in grocery again. It was once again cloudy and rainy. I had to wear my fleece jacket because the wind would blow in on my register every time the door opened.

Unlike the other evenings the weather did not clear up for me after work, in fact, it started snowing. It was hard to see across the valley with the sheets of snow blowing in but I did manage to spot a large herd of bison in the northern part of the valley. I wasn't sure if all the bison in the valley were congregating there or if a new herd had moved in. Moving down the road I came across another large herd and I have surmised that the first herd was a new one. That's great news and pretty soon bison jams will become the norm for the season again.

And after at least a week of them being there I finally got to see my first elk calf in the valley. It was a tiny little guy (or gal) who spent the time nursing while mama licked it and kept a keen eye out for predators. The elk herds are getting larger in the area so I'm sure this is just the first of many elk calves I will be seeing in the valley.

On my way back to Canyon I saw a couple vans pulled to the side of the road with a woman waving her arms wildly in the air. Her and her family were a mere 10 feet from a bull elk with a velvety rack (one of the famous Boys of Summer). Instead of getting in her van she thought it was a better idea to try and shoo the elk away from her. This particular elk is always grazing by the side of the road and pictures can be safely taken from vehicles so I'm not sure why people feel the need to get out of their vehicles and stand immediately in front of him to take their pictures. One swat with that rack will give a visitor an experience they will never forget.

I awoke this morning to a few inches of snow on the ground and trees. It continues to snow and I am once again assigned to groceries so I'm dressed in my Yellowstone General Store fleece.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Other Side of the Mountain

In the weather department I will once again mention the cold and rain. Snow accumulations is forecast for the future. It really doesn't bother me having icky weather but it would be nice to have just a couple sunny days. It's pretty normal to have rain in the afternoons and it does seem to clear up a bit by 6:00 pm but some sun would be nice, too.

I worked Confections and for awhile I had Ronald shadow me. We got in a whole new group of people today and I have only met a few of them. The EDR is filled with new faces during lunch and dinner (I skip breakfast). It will be nice to have more bodies on the floor helping stock and cashier.

During my afternoon break I sat a a picnic table behind the store (a moment when it didn't rain) and watched 3 mule deer roam through the employee parking lot. There are 3 bull elks that every year stay in Canyon during the summer and they are developing huge racks. They are known as 'The Boys of Summer'.

After dinner I decided to see what the weather was like on the other side of Dunraven Pass. I headed up over the pass, through the clouds and found out the weather was pretty much the same on the other side. I did come across a bear jam on the other side of Tower. I took a picture and some video of the black bear, mostly to record the ignorance of the people who were standing within 10 feet of the bear!!! When the bear turned and headed for the road the people scattered and once it was on the other side everyone congregated within 10 feet of it again. They may have gotten some great shots but it could be disastrous for the bear if it becomes more habituated to people.

By Mammoth I can across a bison jam. A lone bison was passing time by standing right in the middle of the road. The rangers come along and try to stear them off the road by blasting bison calls through a loudspeaker on their cars. And that's just what a ranger was doing right after I got there. The bison just looked at him and moved slightly to the shoulder. Just enough for everyone to be able to pass.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

The weather has been rainy lately. The sky gets very dark over Mt. Washburn and the thunder rolls in. I wonder what the weather is like on the other side of the pass. It can be clear and beautiful on one side and dark and miserable on the other. Incredibly it seems to clear up right when we all get off from work and then cloud up again right at dusk.

Dale, Tracy and I worked in Confections today. With the cold weather very few people are getting ice cream but we did sell a lot of hot chocolate and coffee.

On my nightly trek to Hayden Valley I stopped to watch a herd of buffalo by the Yellowstone River. There was a tiny little baby bison with them. They all headed into the river, which is moving rather swiftly and swam across. I watched them with my binoculars and paid special attention to the baby. I lost sight of the little one and my heart sank as I searched downstream for its bobbing little head. Luckily I did find it safe and sound across the river with its mother.

Every night the pull outs are lined with people with their cameras and spotting scopes. I find that I am passing up most of these areas in search of a more easily accessed and less crowded spot (as less crowded as can be expected in Hayden Valley in the summer). The temps are about 48 degrees in the evening so I haven't pulled out my chair and scope for a longer vigil, I only stop and scan the woodline and move on to another spot.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


It rained all last night and I awoke to more rain. The ground must of gotten saturated as there was a landslide somewhere. The landslide knocked out the power to the park. We opened the store to no electricity and spent the first hour in chaos. The workers from the fountain became personal shoppers. Their duties were to escort guests through the store (some with flashlights) and record UPC codes and prices that they would bring to the cashiers. If a credit card was used we had to use those old 'knucklebusters'. The power was only out for 2 hours. The electric company really busted butt to get it back up and going. It was rainy and cloudy for the rest of the day but the sun poked through right when I got off from work.

Jack, the floor supervisor, and Jean, the store manager, called me into her office today. GULP!! It turns out that Jack had asked Jean if I could be in charge of the knife displays in the store. Knives are a huge collectors item and we have 2 displays behind glass as well as a shelf display and some on a rack. I will keep watch over the inventory, order more in and keep the displays attractive and filled. I'm grateful and happy that of all the employees in the store they thought I was trustworthy enough to take on the responsibilty.

There is still occassional piles of snow in Canyon. We have had some warm days that have melted most of the blankets of snow. I still can't walk of the stairs from the side of the dorm as there is a snowdrift at the bottem. Sometimes I get chunks of snow to put in my cooler so that I can have cold Mt. Dew. The huge drifts that were taller than my car in Hayden Valley have all melted away. The north slopes of the mountains are still streaked with white.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Private Bear

I finally got my computer connected to the Internet. But I am finding that it is an on and off kind of situation. I can't connect at the moment which is frustrating as I was going to upload some pictures tonight. I did get one picture uploaded and I will get more on the blog as soon as I can.

I have been told numerous times by guests that I talk funny. I guess that Minnesotans really do have an accent (though I think us Minnesotans talk just fine and the rest of the world have accents). The word that seems to send people into a case of the giggles is the Minnesotan pronunciation of 'bag'. And of course this is a word I use at least 150 times a day. Minnesotans pronounce it with a long a while the rest of the world pronounces it with a soft a. I did get to meet a nice couple last week. The wife was from Finland and the husband from Sweden. We had a nice long chat about the contributions that their two countries have brought to Minnesota. Lutefisk, for one. Only a Minnesotan can revel in the fact that they are eating fish that has been soaked in lye.

I went to a lecture on the Yellowstone wolves. It was given by a wolf biologist. It was very interesting. In 2008 many of the wolf pups died from distemper, which is becoming a problem in the population. The lecture inspired me to hurry up and finish my current book on grizzlies and start on my new wolf book.

After the lecture I took my nightly drive through Hayden Valley. The hills are really freckled with bison. The elk population in the valley is also getting larger. I watched a couple elk that seemed to be watching their surroundings nervously but I didn't spot any predators in the area. On my way back to Canyon I happened to look out the passenger side window and spotted a black bear in the woods. I hit the brakes and watched him meander across the road behind my car. It then stood on his hind legs and placed his front paws on a tree and stretched. I backed up to a nearby pull out and spent the next 10 minutes watching it walk around a small meadow. I got some of it on film but it was getting dark and I'm not sure how well it turned out. The best part was that I got to watch the entire thing all alone. Cars slowed down to rubberneck but they obviously didn't see the bear because no one stopped. It was my very own private bear moment.

Wildlife Sightings:

Grizzly Bear: 25
Black Bear: 4
Big Horn Sheep: 5
Moose: 1
Coyote: 4
Wolves: 12
Martens: 2

Head in the Clouds

To start my day off yesterday Jeannie and I went to Fishing Bridge to delight ourselves by browsing through the Bargain Loft at the Yellowstone General Store there. It's the only YGS in the park to have a Bargain Loft and they have all sorts of clothing, gear and knick knacks at clearance prices. We have clearance items in our store but nothing like Fishing Bridge's. It's great fun to see what new items that they have added.

I then decided to drive the northern loop (my favorite pastime). When I got back to Canyon in the afternoon it started to cloud up. Rain was coming so I knew that the ranger hike I was going to go on was going to be cancelled (also because the trail was closed when some hikers stumbled across a moose on the trail). I grabbed my book, Mark of the Grizzly, and headed to Hayden Valley to read and watch the rain come in. My private pull out ended up not being that private. If a car pulls into one most people driving by assume that they are missing something so they pull in too. So it was me, my book, a grazing bison, and a steady stream of cars ~ as well as a huge diesel truck that parked next to me pumping his fumes towards me. I decided to head back to the dorms for nap time.

After dinner Jeannie, Luke, David, Dave, Brandon, Carl and I headed to the employee room to listen to a YNP bear biologist give a talk on bears. It was rather interesting. Tonight we will all head back there to listen to a wolf lecture.

4 new employees came last night. They are all from Croatia The girls from China are teaching me some words in Mandarin. I have 'hello' down (it sounds like 'nee how').

I awoke this morning to snow falling. It is rather cold outside. I decided to take the northern loop again. South of Mammoth, through the rather thick fog, I could make out a couple wolves. It was much too foggy to pull off a take a picture unless I wanted to risk being hit (which I didn't). I got all the way to Tower when I found out that Dunraven Pass was closed due to snow. That meant turning around and driving nearly 50 miles back the way I had just come. Luckily, the rangers were in the process of taking down the road closure sign. Whew, that was lucky. I did manage to take a couple pictures of 2 big horn sheep by the road with a tiny little baby. On a cuteness scale it rated a 10!!

I made it over the pass just fine but there was a lot of snow around. The pass took me high into the clouds and it was a little difficult navigating the winding road for awhile. I took it slow, especially after I saw evidence left by a bison on the road.