Eric and I spent 8 days in Montana and Wyoming this month exploring Yellowstone National Park. Well, actually we spent the first five days in the park… and the last three days sick in our hotel with a nasty stomach virus. Yeah, I know. What a way to end a fantastic trip, huh? Luckily we’d gotten hundreds of great animal and landscape photos in the first few days, so getting sick at the end wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I guess.
I know you don’t want to know the gory details of what took place in that darkened hotel room, so let’s get right to the good parts, shall we?
(I’ve been slowly adding pics and videos to my Flickr account here, so you can go there to see the full collection if you want.)
First, the list of animals we saw: bison (hundreds), elk (ditto), mule deer, mountain goats, pronghorns, gray wolf, black bears (in town AND in the wild), bald eagle, blue heron, and black-billed magpies. The only large animal we didn’t see was a moose, but that’s ok. They seem almost boring compared to some of these other animals. And my love affair with our wild turkeys a few weeks ago seems downright silly now!
And believe it or not, we saw almost all of these animals from the roadside. We only got to take one hike (because we got sick), so the black bear family was our only backcountry wildlife sighting. We met another couple on the trail who had just snapped a picture of what looked like a grizzly, but we didn’t get to see it ourselves so can’t be sure. They were pretty shaken up by it though, and we joined with them for a while on the hike, feeling safer that way knowing that a grizzly might be nearby. Thank goodness we had our bear spray — I was shaking in my shoes for a while that day!
I got a huge kick out of the bison. Watching a big herd of them in the fields it was easy to imagine what this country was like when they roamed in larger numbers. They seem so slow and lazy while they’re grazing, but don’t turn your back on them because they can be across the road in an instant — they’re amazingly agile for such big creatures. The rangers say that tourists get gored by them every year after not respecting them enough. Park guidelines require you to stay 100 yards away from bison and wolves, and 25 yards from all other wildlife. Despite that, there were many people who were either stupid or reckless, as shown
in Exhibit A:
There were times we had to pass within a couple yards of them on the side of the road, and that was intimidating even though we were inside our car. Some of those big bulls were taller than the car and probably weighed more too!
The bison were easily my favorite animal of the trip; I think it’s because they seem so prehistoric. And they make a sound between a growl and a purr that I love. (I think I got some of that on video/audio but I have to do a bit of editing before I can upload that video to Flickr.) I loved hearing the elk bugling calls too. And I’m fascinated by any animal that can wander in the woods with a heavy rack of antlers on its head. How do they keep from getting stuck all the time?
I find it hard to write much about this trip without using superlatives in every sentence: it was the biggest, wildest, most amazing, awesome place. People are always telling me I HAVE to see the Grand Canyon. For some reason I can’t get inspired to do that (yet), but I’d urge you to go to Yellowstone for an experience you won’t soon forget. There’s nowhere else on the entire planet where you can see the animals and landscapes you’ll experience in this majestic national park. I plan to re-live it through my videos and photos for years to come.
Speaking of photos, my camera started behaving oddly during the trip, and now that we’re home I find that the LCD screen won’t show any images at all. I’m thankful this didn’t happen during the trip, but annoyed that it’s happened at all. I can certainly take pictures using the viewfinder instead, but the LCD is so convenient for previewing pictures as you take them. I’ll have to think about what to do about this. A quick google search found a place that will repair this particular problem for $129 plus shipping, but it wouldn’t be my first choice to send my camera off to someone in Tulsa or wherever they are. I think I’ll try to find someplace here in town that will fix it for me. Or, I could use this as an excuse to get the bigger and more powerful camera I’ve been wanting…..hmmm, wonder if Eric would go for that? Maybe for a Christmas present? On the other hand, I feel I should keep using this as long as it works. Seems wasteful to get a new one….but I really want it…. I spend hours drooling over some of the pictures other people post on Flickr, and I just KNOW I could get pictures like those if I just had a more powerful zoom lens…. Sigh.
And I’ve been wanting to upgrade my laptop for a while too, but have forced myself to endure the slowdowns, registry errors, etc. on my Dell Inspiron because I thought I’d only had this computer for maybe 2 years. But guess what? I found my original receipt and it turns out I bought this in Jan 2006 — almost 5 years ago! So I was feeling justified when I started shopping around for a new computer last week. But now it seems I have a decision to make….camera or laptop? Hmm, this will be a tough one — maybe I need to sell some yarn.