"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, September 19, 2011

Chief Joseph Highway

 With Saturday coming around I decided to head off on my newest adventure:  heading to Cody via the Chief Joseph Highway.  It had been years since I had taken this road and so it was like a fresh and new moment for me.  Of course to get there I had to head through Lamar Valley, it was only my 5th time this summer that I had ventured through Lamar.  I had spent so much time there these past few winters but it seemed anew without any snow and my sporadic drives through this summer.  The golden vegetation and the newly yellowed aspen leaves reminded me that fall was just about here, and the huffing and puffing of a few bison proved to me that rut was still lingering but mostly over.

The Chief Joseph Highway is my 3rd favorite drive in the area (the Beartooth is my favorite and the drive along the South Fork is my 2nd).  Clouds hung low in the area and I had seen that snow had fallen in the higher elevations when I got a glimpse of the Beartooths as I headed toward Chief Joseph.  I stopped at an overlook before hitting the switchbacks up the highway and after wandering a ways from my car I was pelted with rain and sleet that stuck to my clothes and hair.  Great, sleet hair for the rest of the day.
The winding road up and over on Chief Joseph Highway

View from the top of Chief Joseph Highway
 I met up with Patrick in Cody where we went to a Japanese restaurant.  We got to climb up to our table and sit on pillows at the table.  We got to keep our shoes on since there was a cutaway underneath the table where we could put our feet instead of curling up to eat.  We have been working our way through the various restaurants in Cody, sometimes eating at our favorites a second time.  The food was delicious so we will be heading back for some Japanese feasting sometime in the future.

Mammoth has been abuzz with the bugling of elk.  A couple of bull elk have their harems in Mammoth and we were pleasantly surprised this morning when a bull elk wandered behind the store.  Armed with our cameras we were watching him from the loading dock when he stopped on the hill behind the store and let out a loud bugle.  We all applauded him as he majestically wandered off behind the gas station next door.
I had a small malfunction with my camera and eventually was able to capture the moment as he crested the hill and wandered away and eventually found himself crossing the road.  All that was left for me was this butt shot.  He spent most of the day wandering around Mammoth causing quite a commotion with the visitors as he stood across the road from the store.  Later this evening I heard a short siren.  Looking out my window I saw three park ranger vehicles with lights flashing as they followed him down the road by the store.  It is once again time to carefully survey the area when taking the trash out.

He is not the only bull in the area.  The other night I saw two of them in Mammoth.  One lounging in the grass in front of the post office while another on clawed at the ground with his massive rack by the hotel.  It was an impressive display of ground raking.  The sounds of bugle resonates through the air here.  I love that sound!