Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Yellowstone's Wolf Packs

I would be happy just to catch of glimpse of some of these magnificent animals during my upcoming Yellowstone trip. A predator of the buffalo, the wolves at Yellowstone have been identified as being in 13 distinct packs numbering 137 wolves in all. The smallest pack has 4 individuals, the largest 19. More packs exist just outside of Yellowstone's boundaries. The wolf's main prey in Yellowstone has been elk, but old, sick and very young buffalo also have been victims of wolf packs. I have seen video of mother buffaloes protecting their young by kicking and goring wolfs, even tossing them in the air, but much of the time young buffaloes become isolated and are seized by the wolves. Occasionally buffalo bulls form a defense for helpless buffalo and ward off wolves with a tough stance.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's Monday

To hear a real grumpy buffalo, it's fun to turn up the volume on this. I love the last little spitty snort.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Young girl of the Taos tribe, photographed by Edward S. Curtis in 1905.

With my fondness for good photography and Native American heritage, websites that feature the photography of Edward S. Curtis are favorites. Stunning portraits like the one above as well as Native Americans at their homes and in the field are treasures. The portfolios can be viewed HERE.

It's going to be cold when I get to Yellowstone in October, but that's OK. Of the few campgrounds that remain open in the fall, it is first-come first-served as far as acquiring a campsite. A co-worker has loaned me a book on Yellowstone waterfalls. More than 250 are in the park, which reveals the vastness of the place. I'm planning my time there carefully so that I can cover certain areas that are prime on my list. Of course one trip won't be enough, so I hope to go back several times. Besides the huge herd of buffalo, I want to see wolves.

An event at Allerton Park in November that I hope to attend is "An Evening with Poe," which features readings from the works of Edgar Allen Poe in the stately Allerton mansion, along with wine (from a cask of amontillado?) and a candlelight tour. It's a pricey affair at $20 a pop, but I don't get out much, and Poe is a favorite. Weatherwise, a dreary evening would fit right in. Quoth the buffalo, "Evermore!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Down the Avenue and in the Garden with the Dairy Queen

My favorite Fu Dog

One of the many Chinese musicians

The Dairy Queen

Last weekend: Wow. Started off with a good time with Red Chief followed by another episode of Survivorman, who had it pretty good this week on an island in the South Pacific. He had plenty of fresh water thanks to heavy rains and there seemed to be food aplenty with coconuts, crabs, snails and other creatures about. All in all, I thought this was his easiest stint.

Spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Allerton Park near Monticello strolling with the Dairy Queen along the Fu Dog Garden, down the Avenue of the Chinese Musicians, and around the stately Allerton mansion. Dairy Queen? That's Kathy (above, in sunglasses), and although she has not formally met any of the herd, she already has a buffalo nickname. She is fond of dairy products, so that was an easy one. So yes, to any buffaloes tuned in, Democrat Tom actually has a hug buddy. I've warned her of the herd "mentality", but she will soon have to experience it firsthand. (She knows how fond I am of my bison homies.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Whirlwind Weekend

A lot to do this weekend, but I won't bore with many details. Monday posting will include photos of my exhilarating lifestyle. Hah. It starts tonight with watching Red Chief for a bit, followed by a glass of wine and tuning in to Survivorman, one of my favorites on TV. Tonight he's on an island in the South Pacific. If I can get half of what I want to get done this weekend, I will be ecstatic. Taking photos at Allerton Park, a very special place, will be a highlight. You'd think with all those statues out there they would have a nice sculpture of a buffalo. If I win the lottery, Allerton will have a buffalo statue. Over and out.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

When a Lion is a Bear

Follow-up to yesterday's post: Lion at the Art Institute of Chicago is fitted with a Chicago Bear's helmet in preparation for the Super Bowl earlier this year. Gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Favorite Place

Native American in stone under a gushing fountain on the statue's pedestal.

One of the lions at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Because it was such a nice day, during the noon hour I visited one of my favorite sites in Champaign and took some photos. As an admirer of Native American heritage as well as wildlife and sculptures, I have always appreciated the bronze sculpture "Prayer for Rain", which has stood in a fountain in Champaign's West Side Park since 1899. In addition to the panther and the deer in the sculpture, there is a bronze plate on the pedestal that has a depiction of a buffalo. That, to borrow a phrase from Abraham Lincoln, is "altogether fitting and proper" since buffalo were roaming residents of Illinois long ago. Only recently did I find out that the sculptor of the statue, Edward Kemeys, also created the two stately lions that guard the entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Autumn Journey to Yellowstone

Buffalo moms and babies swimming the Madison River at Yellowstone.

Elk, Madison River, Yellowstone National Park

Looks like the best time for me to visit Yellowstone this year will be in October, so right now Oct. 7 is the target date to leave. It will be cold out there that time of year, snowfall even a possibility, but I'll be prepared. I'll be camping at the Madison Junction campground, where the Firehole River and the Gibbon River converge to form the Madison River. The area is a prime place for wildlife, including buffaloes. Will also visit wildlife havens Lamar and Hayden valleys in Yellowstone, with hopes of getting glimpses of moose, wolves and grizzlies (and of course more buffalo).

Fantastic photo above of an elk at Yellowstone. Here's the photographer's description of how he got the shot: "I was sitting on the bank of the Madison River trying to photograph trumpeter swans when I heard something on my left. I was quite surprised to see this bull elk, perhaps five yards away. Luckily I had my second camera with a short lens by my side."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

With the Chief In the Wilds of Maplecrest Drive

With a headlamp for light, Red Chief and I read magazines in the tent. To my amazement, once I turned off the headlamp and announced it was time to sleep, it wasn't 10 minutes before the little guy was snoozing.

Sunday morning, 7 a.m., having just awakened.

The Chief cooking bratwurst.

The big camp-out Saturday night in my back yard was a great fun. The Princess, Tim and his wonder dog Ali cooked out with us and stayed for a while. The perfect weather included a brilliant full moon, which I stared at for hours while the little guy was in a deep sleep. Next morning was fun with reading the Sunday paper and getting McDonald's pancakes and sausage for breakfast and eating out our campsite. With a huge smile, the Chief announced that we would have to do this again. Sure will.