Sunday, July 24, 2005

There's a dragon with matches that's loose on the town. Takes a whole pail of water just to cool him down.
Fire! Fire on the mountain.

The Dad and the Dude drove through Yellowstone yesterday. I haven't been in the park since I was a little kid, before the 1989 fires.

The size and scope of the 1989 fires is almost impossible to fathom. Shit, the size and scope of the Yellowstone itself is almost impossible to fathom.

(I feel compelled to mention that, as I sit and type this, I am sitting in the lobby of the Jackson Lake Lodge, looking through three-story windows at the Tetons. The Dad just ran in and grabbed me because there is a big, bull moose just outside. Pictures to follow.)

Back to the matter at hand: the 1989 fires burned 1.3 million acres in the greater Yellowstone area, and nearly 800,000 acres in the park itself. And that comprises only 36% of the park. Amazing.

I got an email two days ago from a friend in the BDC, Chris M. Chris M. said he wanted more wildlife pics, other than shots of Bells and my dogs. Ask and ye shall receive...

The thing about Yellowstone is the damn traffic jams in the Lamar Valley.

That bad boy is approximately 2000 lbs. He didn't give a shit that he was stopping traffic.

Lamar Valley lived up to its reputation for "megafauna." We saw every example of megafauna except the famous, elusive wolves.

Wolves? Did you say wolves? Who, me? No, not me, I didn't say wolves. Nobody here but us chickens...

You know what I love? I know a few guys from the BDC who have shelled out thousands of dollars to fly to Montana, get dropped in the bush, hire a guide with a team of horses, hoof it miles into the backcountry...hoping, just hoping to get close enough to a bull elk with a big rack to shoot it. Sometimes, they don't even see them.

I pulled the car over and walked to within 25 feet of this dude:

I'm not sure if you can see the other one behind him, but there were two bull elk there. The Dad is teaching me to use photo editing software. Voila, you can see the rack of the second one in the background of this picture.

Oh, the scenery sucks in Yellowstone.

That is the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Then, we saw a couple black bears in the Lamar Valley. I couldn't get a clear shot of the first one. He was chowing on some vegetation on the banks of the Lamar River.

Can't see him? He is in the bushes. The black spot in the middle is his head.

It was cool to see, but I was worried that my dear readers wouldn't be able to see him clearly in that picture.

So we drove further down the Lamar Valley, and found another black bear in a meadow. I care about you people, I really do. This guy was about 75 yards away.

Then, we went to look at a pertrified redwood tree. Way back in the day, Yellowstone had a different climate, and redwoods grew here. This guy got buried in hot volcanic ash and became rock.

Then, as we were walking back to the car, I said to the Dad, "The Dad, that was cool. But do you know what?"

"What?" he asked.

"I'm concerned. We've seen some cool stuff, and gotten some great pictures... but Chris M. said he wanted more wildlife shots, and dammit, I aim to please. I am sure he loves bison, elk, antelope and black bears, but I think Chris M. would want to see a grizzly. I know Easton would like to see a picture of a grizzly."

And, again, the obliging, results-oriented residents of Yellowstone came through. About 50 or 60 yards from where we parked, this guy crawled out from under a fallen tree and started foraging. People were freaking, because he was close. After all, his scientific name is Ursus Arctos Horribilis, a name designed to cause a freak-out.

Hey Mr. Grizzly, are you ready for your close-up?

Then it was off to Grand Teton National Park.
More crappy views...

The Dad thought I should pull back the curtain and show you how I get those unique self-portraits.

Enough typing. I gotta get the hell out there and do some hiking.

To be continued...