Friday, September 5, 2008

A Little Slice of Heaven

This summer we decided that we were due for a visit to Yellowstone. Neither Doug or I had ever been there, which when considering our love for wildlife, photography and nature is practically a SIN! So last weekend we loaded the Subaru up and took off for Yellowstone. These are some of the photos from our trip. I'll share tidbits of our journey with each photo.

On our drive in to the park on the first day, we encountered a few female elk and their babies. We were able to get a great up close view.. what a way to start our adventure!

Our next encounter was a couple of male buffalo taking dust baths. This one took offense to the Toyota Camry in front of us and decided to charge the guy's car. The Japanese sure know how to give those Camry's get up and go though, because he hit the gas and was off like a bat outta hell!

While driving through Hayden Valley, we saw a bunch of cars pulled off to the side of the road. All we could see was a couple of silly bison though, and when you've seen a couple already (charging Camry's no less!) what's two more? Then we drove over the hill and understood. There were A LOT of bison grazing. Close to a hundred I would bet. Very cool.

And of course while we were driving around we had to stop at all of the geysers, hot springs and paint pots. Tyson loved goofing around and being a ham. And of course he was curious about these steaming lakes of water.

Driving up to Tower Falls, we again, saw a bunch of cars pulled off the side of the road. And a RANGER. This surely screamed something major! We got out and were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of this young (probably about 2) black bear. What a treat!

When we made it to Tower Falls, we were amazed by the beauty of the waterfall. Almost as cool as Multnomah Falls in Oregon, but not quite. We took off on a trail hoping to get down to the base of the falls for a closer view but the trail had been washed out and was closed.

Of course we had to visit Old Faithful. You can't visit YNP without seeing it go off! While we were waiting for the show to begin, this cute little girl (about 3?) took a shining to Tyson. She shyly came over and touched his shoulder. Then she leaned over, grabbed his face with both of her hands and planted one on him! I never laughed so hard in my life. That's right, my son is going to be a ladies man. Ahem. Shortly after the kiss came the lecture about how he's not allowed to date until he's 30.

Doug was so hoping to see a bull elk and was rewarded on our way back to the hotel when he spotted this handsome stud. Nice rack, buddy!

On our second day in the park, we again saw a ranger directing traffic and a crowd so we pulled off to see what we'd come across this time. Score! A very large bull moose! What luck! I've only ever seen cow moose and a baby one.

Also on our second day, we went to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. It is a sort of non-profit refuge that is home to 8 grizzlies and a pack of four wolves. All were either orphaned or nuisance animals that would have otherwise been shot. I was very impressed with the way they run the facility (they're even AZA accredited!) and the animals seemed much more content than the typical zoo.

This is Sam. He's their largest grizzly, weighing in at 970 lbs. Yikes. What a beautiful bear though.

This is one of the wolves in the pack. It's a hard life.

It was interesting to see the wolves behave very similar to the way a real pack would in the wild at feeding time. This is the Alpha female letting the Beta female know that she is boss and will wait for her to say it's ok for the Beta to eat. Amazing to see the interactions!

Tyson riding the wooden bear in front of the refuge.

We took part of the day and drove up to Mammoth Hot Springs and had to visit the Boiling River (thanks for the recommend Kevin & Teresa!). It was awesome! It's where a natural hot springs (131 degrees F!) meets with the Gardner River and creates a bath-like river. Tyson obviously loved it. He cried when we had to leave.

Our third and last day in the park, we got up at 5 AM (we're such horrible parents, I know!) to get to Hayden Valley by about 7 to see if we could spot any large animals that typically only come out after sunrise (such as WOLVES and GRIZZLIES!). We weren't so lucky. I did see a coyote though. He seemed kind of pissed that I spotted him on the hunt for some cranes. Tough nookie!
I have to take a moment to share the fact that we were clearly in the car A LOT this last weekend so Tyson was napping on the fly. The poor kid was so tired on this occasion, he was still asleep when Doug pulled him out of the car seat. Oh well, we had so much more to see!

Yellowstone Lake

Tyson found some puddles at the marina and delighted in splashing about in them.

On our way through Lamar Valley, we again, spotted TONS of cars pulled off of the road. I jumped out to ask someone because I couldn't see anything remotely interesting. That's when this guy said there was a pack of wolves out playing on the riverside. Wolves!! Next to dolphins, my favorite animal EVER! We were able to get this photo with our 300 mm zoom lens - that's how far away they were! Nevertheless I was tickled pink at the rare opportunity to witness wolves in Yellowstone. I never thought I'd see the day. I can die happy.

This is the view of the mountains along the Beartooth. Shrouded in mist and fog, they were beautiful and make me want to live there. Oh. Until we got to Cooke City and saw that gas was $4.70 a gallon. Hmm. I suppose heaven does have a price... Anyway, thanks for letting me share our awesome adventure!!


Redhoodoos said...

I'm soooo bitterly jealous that you saw wolves. I told Todd that is all I wanted to see in Yellowstone this last time (and also an elk bugling).

I get you , MCF. I love your sense of adventure!

Btw - I'm working for Comphealth starting Monday. Guess what I'll be doing?? Licensing! said...

i was here