Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Peeping at Tom

A special moment at Yellowstone: This big guy, head begrimed with mud, had just finished swimming across a river, the bottom of his coat still dripping wet. He walked over to my car, stood there for a few moments, looked in at me, and then slowly trotted around the car to join his buddies. He was so close I could have reached out and touched him. Of course I was thrilled and quickly snapped this photo. The photo doesn't really do justice to the magnificent presence and immense size of the animal.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Yellowstone: Critters in My Camera

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone: This coyote and one of his buddies suddenly appeared in front of my moving car on a bridge. I was able to slowly drive alongside him and snap this. He looked sideways at me with a "get outta my face" look before he vanished into sagebrush beyond the bridge.

Stud Elk, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone: It was common at Yellowstone to see a giant bull elk, like the one above on the left, surrounded by a harem of females numbering as many as 30.

Sometimes, a stud needs a nap.

In a pine forest an early morning frost covers a buffalo bull. My camera flash gives an eerie yellow glow to his eye. Click on the photo for larger view.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

But Will I Make the Cover of National Geographic?

Me and bronze buffaloes.

My shot at an elk: statue at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. In the background is part of the vast range of the National Elk Refuge.

I had some very weird (but all good) things happen to me during my trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. For example, I'm at the beautiful National Museum of Wildlife Art outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming, admiring my new favorite sculpture, "A Change of Seasons" by T.D. Kelsey, which features two giant buffalo. I have to nab someone to take my picture in front of this masterpiece. There's an older gentleman and his wife in the parking lot. I'll pick on them:

Me: "Do you mind taking my photo?"
Him: "Sure will."
Me: "I have the camera all set for you. Just stand here and click."
(He quietly snaps the photo and leaves to get his car to pick up his wife.)
Her (his wife): "Do you know who just took your picture?"
Me: "Uh, no."
Her: "That's a National Geographic photographer."
Me (in complete disbelief, in the style of a blithering idiot): "Geez. What's his name?"
Her: "William Allard."
Me: "Wow."

HERE'S the info on the dude who took my photo. Do I know how to pick a photographer or what? How weird is that? More strangeness coming.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Elk on the banks of the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park.

Oxbow Bend of the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park.

I'm still going through all the photos from my trip, so for now I'm posting two of my favorites. While driving along a road close to the banks of the Firehole River in Yellowstone, I noticed the tips of two giant antlers down on the river bank. I pulled over, hopped out, got my camera ready, and . . . whoa. I came upon this magnificent creature, a huge bull elk, posing for me. I was only 15-20 feet away but near my car, safe from being hoisted onto his antlers. In the other photo, Oxbow Bend of the Snake River, near the Teton Mountain range in the background, was a special place, a prime stomping ground for moose. Spectacular beauty. (Click on the photos for close-up view.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Not Dead, But I've Been to Heaven

Me and a buddy at Mammoth Hot Springs, headquarters site of Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone overwhelmed me. The experience was much greater than I had anticipated. I'm in a daze after seeing hundreds of buffalo and elk, four wolves, five grizzly bears, three coyotes, rock-climbing bighorn sheep, and a bald eagle perched on a tree limb snacking on a fish, all in a magnificent landscape. The moose did a good job of avoiding me, though. I'll be posting more photos and giving you an account of what I did, but I won't bore you with too much text. For now, suffice it to say that it was a kind of spiritual experience. More to come, including how I was held captive by a herd of wild buffalo in the Grand Tetons.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I would love to see a moose at Yellowstone. Lots of 'em out there.

This photo was taken at Yellowstone on September 22 of last year. Yikes.

This will be my last post for a while because I will soon be leaving for Yellowstone, a dream trip. The weather at Yellowstone these days is iffy, with temps in the 40s now but Saturday a high of 26 is predicted with snow likely. When I arrive next week it is supposed to be in the 40s and sunny. We'll see. I'll have to be prepared for anything while living in a tent. It's all good.

I'll leave you with these words about Yellowstone from naturalist John Muir:

"The alpenglow is fading into earthy, murky gloom, but do not let your town habits draw you away to the hotel. Stay on this good fire-mountain and spend the night among the stars. Watch their glorious bloom until the dawn, and get one more baptism of light. Then, with fresh heart, go down to your work, and whatever your fate, under whatever ignorance or knowledge you may afterward chance to suffer, you will remember these fine, wild views, and look back with joy to your wanderings in the blessed old Yellowstone wonderland."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dude, Don't Eat Me

So, since I'm leaving for Yellowstone in a week, I thought I would check the latest on what's going on with the grizz and other wildlife. And I read this from an Idaho TV station about increases in bear encounters in the Yellowstone area:"Why so many bear encounters in the month of September? According to Fish and Game, right now is the time of year when bears are trying to put on as much fat as they can to get ready for hibernation. It's called hyperphagia, which is Latin for "pig out."

That's just perfect. It's "hyperphagia" and I'm gonna be out there as a potential walking lunch for Yogi and his pals. I'll have to deal with it.

I had an exceptionally nice weekend with hug buddy the Dairy Queen. We saw the Illini whip the Nittany Lions, toasted the Fu Dogs at Allerton with some fine wine, and Sunday I ate enough fat at the Clinton pork and apple festival to choke a whale. And what the hell is a Nittany Lion? Looked it up and found that the Penn State mascot is a mountain lion that long ago roamed around Mount Nittany, which overlooks the present campus. Nittany is a Native American word meaning single mountain. Now you know.