"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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Middle of the Road

 Having just emerged from a winter storm warning and about 8 inches of snow I am certainly glad that I purchased a pair of gators this spring.  Getting a boot full of snow and having soggy socks in indeed uncomfortable.

Having a fresh coating of snow is beautiful and the steamy terraces are a wonder to the eye.  Though we had to deal with a great deal of wind these past couple of days I still enjoy a good snowfall.  A few visitors braved the elements to come to the Park but in general it has been a very slow month.  We are seeing our regular NPS employees wander into the store for some snacks and a quick visit and to enjoy a taco on Tuesdays.  We have new additions to our menu and it seems that the gyro is the food of choice on the other 4 days the fountain is open.
 It has been quite a few months since I've had the opportunity to be a tourist myself and enjoy a trek to Lamar Valley.  So this morning I packed up my camera and headed out to see what I could find.  Mostly I found snow and very very few cars.  For the first time in a very long time I found that I could stop in the middle of the road (with plenty of room to view coming traffic from either direction - of which there was none) and look around and snap a few pictures.
 I love to look at the tracks in fresh fallen snow.  I found a herd of elk by Roosevelt that were resting in the snow.
 Later on, in Lamar Valley, I came across this coyote wandering down the middle of the road.
When he ventured off into the snow I thought I saw something.....a radio collar.  Flashback two years when I saw on a regular basis a coyote between Roosevelt and the hitching posts in Lamar with a radio collar.  That fella I referred to as DigitCould this be Digit?  I have no idea as I don't know how many radio collared coyotes there are in Yellowstone and the surrounding area. 
 I saw a few bison on the Blacktail and a small herd by the Yellowstone Picnic area and further on by the Lamar River.  Their faces were snowy from pushing the snow around and one side of them would be plastered with snow from the wind blowing.
And one mama with her offspring standing by her side as they pushed the snow for vegetation.  I do love the bison.

Another flashback we are all experiencing at the General Store is the sighting of a rabbit that is continuously hopping around leaving its footprints in the snow.  We all remember the demise of the rabbit we affectionately called Mugsey when it was caught by a coyote last winter.  We now appear to have a new rabbit to watch as it hops around the store.  I came back this afternoon to find coyote prints behind the store.  Hhhhmmm, I guess nature might occur again this year with this rabbit.

After over 11 years living year round in the Interior Patrick has finally made a permanent move to Mammoth.  He discarded his canister containing his emergency coffee supply when he realized that a winter trip to the store requires a car and a 5 mile drive when previously in was a 50 mile commute by snowmobile.  He will no longer need to carefully pack tomatoes and other fresh produce in a cooler (tomatoes are notoriously difficult to haul into the Interior in the winter - they freeze and are more difficult to haul than eggs!) and he can now call in a pizza order and pick it up.  Yup, one of my thrills of coming to Mammoth was to actually pick up a pizza - the 'I'll pay for a pizza if you pick it up' bit is no longer needed. 

With  it has been blowing and snowing lately I am reminded daily that everyday Yellowstone is an adventure.  Somedays it can be sunny with bright blue mountain skies and the next it can be a sheet of snow blowing by.  It all contributes to the granduer of this marvelous place.