Yellowstone - a place for all seasons

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Monday, June 8, 2009

I have been to Yellowstone in three seasons now – winter in ’89, fall in ’04 and now in early summer. Each time, I have been amazed by the breadth of natural beauty within its boundaries – thankfully, preserved for future generations (if the National Park system ever goes the way of a budget rape, I will move to Canada!)

This was the first time either of us had entered the park using the Eastern entrance. When you enter from the east, you steadily climb to 8530 feet through the Sylvan Pass. The snow-capped Absaroka Mountains and rushing waterfalls down the mountain walls of the pass remind you that this is not really summer yet – spring thaws are still occurring. It is a beautiful entry into the park and sets the expectation of seeing more of Mother Nature at her most spectacular. She came through for us again.

We stayed in Yellowstone almost a week and took hundreds of pictures. I can’t possibly describe all of what we experienced without boring you to tears. Suffice it to say, that despite more rain and cold (but thankfully, no more snow), we enjoyed our re-acquaintance with what the park had to offer, including:

…a single sighting of moose…bison and more bison…elk sunning itself in a meadow…mule deer running away through the forest…black bear crossing in front of our car…two grizzly bear cubs playing in a meadow…a coyote by the side of the road…the eerie cries of wolves in the distance as we sat around a campfire…osprey… great blue herons…ravens…merganser ducks…basins of geysers…bubbling brown mudpots…pools and springs of mineral-based technicolors…fields of yellow and purple wildflowers…boats on Yellowstone Lake…the dark green of pine forests and the brighter green of valleys…the Yellowstone River cutting through the “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone…a family of several goats on a mountainside…

We had some great and not so great human interaction also. We made new friends, Ryan and Mariah, our neighbors at Norris Campground. Like us, they were traveling at a transitional moment in their lives – in their case, loss of work. They decided to take some time to travel before going back to Oregon for school and job-hunting. We had a wonderful night of conversation with them around their campfire. We hope to see them when we get to the Portland area.

Earlier that evening, one of our many stupid human encounters occurred. An older foreign couple in a rented motor home tried to occupy Ryan and Mariah’s campsite even though their tent was pitched there. I had to explain that even though our neighbors’ car wasn’t there, their tent was and therefore, the site was already occupied. “But we’ve been looking so long!” cried the woman. I shrugged my shoulders and told her she’d have to look elsewhere.

At the same campground, a bison came through and parked himself near the restroom near our site. As a preface, in all the materials you get when you come into Yellowstone and on many signs throughout the park, you are warned to stay at least 100 feet away from wildlife. So, as I approached the restroom, there was the bison and about 5 feet behind him was a woman sitting cross-legged on the ground behind the bison, looking as if she were contemplating the Buddha instead of a wild bison. Behind her were a father and two kids. I reminded the woman that it wasn’t safe to get that close to wildlife – she acted as though this was new news to her. I took the long way around the restroom and when I left they were all gone and the bison was at peace – at least for a while!

And let us not forget to mention the cars that don’t pull over for that photo they must have, but stay in their lane, blocking traffic. Surprisingly, everyone is very tolerant of this – no honking or yelling at the offending car (thank god that Jim was driving or I would have been the honker!!)
But all in all, we had a great time and Yellowstone was once again confirmed as one of our favorite destinations.

p.s. Next entry will have video clips from Yellowstone.
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