"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

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mental Notes and Side Notes

It was snowing this morning when I left for Lamar. I love the snow and it could snow everyday and I would be completely happy. I saw this coyote by the Tower Ranger Station. I took the second picture because of the sign that says "Caution Wildlife on Roadway" - and there was wildlife on the roadway. In fact, I've been seeing other coyotes, besides Digit, in this exact area. I keep an eye out for them every time I drive through this area. I had seen one in that exact spot on Friday.
I love the ice formation that formed on the banks of the Soda Butte Creek by Pebble Creek. In Lamar there were some bison right by the road and I watched some coyotes mousing off in the distance. Some ducks were swimming in the Lamar River (Mental Note: find out what kind of ducks those are).
Though the snow is not incredibly deep the bison still have to use their power muscles to push the snow away from the vegetation. Most of the bison walk around with a snowy face.
This bison has pushed the snow away. I took this picture between Floating Island and Petrified Tree. There is a pullout where I can look down on the bison (or elk, or whatever). In Lamar I watched a herd across the Lamar River run and chase each other around. When looking at bison it is hard to imagine that they would romp and play like other creatures.....but they do.

Not only is wildlife watching easier in the winter but the footprints in the snow are spectacular. There is rarely a patch of open snow that does not have tracks of some sort covering the area - which includes the bottom of my stairs where I live. This morning I came out to huge wolf prints right at the bottom of them.
I only found one bull elk by Lava Creek yesterday. This one I will be able to identify in the future as one of his points has broken off (his left side at the top). I would like to imagine it broke off during some mighty battle he had this fall.

Side Note: I am reading a fascinating book called Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. Anyone who is fascinated by history, especially the colonization of New England should check it out. He also wrote In the Heart of the Sea - the story of the ship Essex. Another excellent book.