Thursday, May 25, 2006

Spring in Yellowstone NP

Yellowstone was quite different this year than in previous years.  First, spring was evident everywhere--it was sunny and very warm, unlike the changeable, sometimes freezing weather of past years.  All the trees were budding, the grass was lush and the streams and rivers overflowing with mountain snow runoff.  The valleys and meadows were significantly flooded.   This changed animal behavior greatly, as they hate "underwater grazing".  They banded together in smaller pasturing areas and ate available grass like crazy.  

They landed in the campground one morning and we couldn't even go outside to our car or let Cassie out for her morning walkies until they cleared out. 

Here's Frank patiently explaining to Cassie why she has to wait to take a wizzie.  After that, the poor park employees (aka Slave Labor) had a major bison pie-poking job to do!

We joined in a grizzly bear vigil where a kill had been sighted and a grizzly had been seen.  

All the "long lensers" were there; the telescopes and extreme nature photogs gathered in the twilight to catch the appearance of the grizzly coming to the kill site.  It was rumored that the female grizzly had a den nearby and hungry cubs to feed.  She never showed up while we were there and we saw only a black bear. 

One of the reasons we love to come visit at this time of year is due to bison calving.  Here's the cutest thing ever--this little bison calf looking straight at me and "vogue-ing for the camera!

The baby bison are such a delight to watch.  We spent hours parked or perched on a boulder just watching the little guys chase each other and try to engage mom in head-butt play.  

The other reason this is the best time to visit is because there are relatively few cars on the road and it is easy to get around and pull over at will to watch impromptu mealtimes. 

Cassie enjoyed our outings and was excited but quiet while we passed the huge bison on the road.

Coyotes were bold and came right up to cars to beg for food.  This one was quite a handsome fella.

Elk with radio collars frequently congregated on the road.

Saw the usual black bears, which often had their cubs with them right by the road.  No grizzly bear sightings on this 

This is a BearJam near a kill site; it was rumored to have attracted bears there to feed so folks staked out the area to await the arrival of bears.

We visited the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and I got an unusual shot of the Canyon Falls with a crow sitting on the fence.  The crow allowed me to approach within 2 feet.

On one stop, we let Cassie out to sniff the snow.   Instead, she immersed herself in it and rolled around scratching her back, much to my dismay since I would have to have a cold wet dog in my lap for the remainder of the drive.

On our last night, Frank made us a campfire and we toasted to a wonderful Yellowstone experience. 

We had a great visit and left yesterday to restock and clean up the rig.  Enroute we shopped at Super Walmart and are now in a Passport campground with full services and free wifi.  Frank is doing laundry and fixing a few things and I am  steam cleaning the carpet.  We might stay an extra day so I can watch the American Idol finale as our next stop was scheduled to be a boondock in a narrow mountain pass where one can get no TV reception at all.

Next extended play stop is on Friday--Crescent Bar, WA where we will play with our pals, Rick and Carol and their dog, Karma.

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