Wednesday, December 23, 2020

AN EXCITING DAY IN YELLOWSTONE - SEVERAL YEARS AGO

 It is fun to go back on our old road trips, especially now as we get towards the end of 2020.  Just to add that information I mention could be out of date by now. Many of you may remember this from a previous blog post on my old blog which went back to April 2008 (no longer available) but if you have, I hope you will once again indulge me as I go armchair traveling.  It has a more detailed account of what I mentioned in my other post here.  

And now to continue with one of my daily journal entries that I write while on holiday.

I have no idea how many days we've been on the road, but I have decided to share today because it was a very special one.   
11.27 a.m. and Gregg is filling up the car with gas, and buying a can of bear spray from their store.  He had heard their advertisement this morning.  It is recommended at all the Visitor Centers in bear country.  As we have been listening to what we should take on our walks, this was one we were told we should purchase. 
Bear attacks may be rare but we have heard how one couple was recently charged at another park up north, and they said their bear spray saved them from serious injury.  I read that 80 percent of attacks are from bears who are protecting cubs, something that all mothers across the species can understand.  
The further north we go we thought we ought to have some with us just in case.  
11.40 p.m. we stopped by a pretty river setting.   We watched as a fisherman tossed his line out several times, and then we left him in peace. We also said goodbye to our grasshopper who has been traveling with us for two days.  Darned if we could find him even with all the racket he was making, but he finally jumped out the door when we left them open at the river, so that it would do just that.  We were near desperate to get rid of him, even if we found it amusing.  Thankfully a dozen others didn't fly in to join him.  Then we would have been desperate to get rid of all of them.  I am wondering if these were actually grasshoppers, they seem to fly rather than jump.  They sure looked like grasshoppers, and made a similar noise. 

12.32 p.m. Sitting on a log near another beautiful river setting....
and giving the camera a well deserved rest.  Gregg and I have been giving her quite a work-out.
1.41 p.m. Just stopped at Canyon Village.  We shared a trout dinner with a salad.  I met two ladies in the bathroom, one from Nebraska, the other from South Carolina.  Yes there are even friendly people who even talk to you in the ladies loo, and I seem to be writing everything down!  No recollection of the conversation but it was something to do with places we should see.
Not far from Canyon Village we stopped at the north rim of the Grand Canyon overlook at the top of the hill.  Walking on the trail to one of the overlooks I spotted this little chipmunk.  Really cute!  There was also an osprey nest sign but before I saw the sign a lady came up to me and said she had noticed the long lens of my camera and would I mind looking at this nest on top of the pinnacle to try and identify the bird for her.
She heard the birds before she saw the nest but wasn't able to make out what was making the noise.  I was very grateful as I had no idea there was a nest there and would probably have missed it.  I took several photos and loaned her my camera to take a look.  I asked her if she would like me to send her a copy if my photos came out okay.  She said yes and we exchanged e-mails.   They are a bit fuzzy but yes they are ospreys.
The sign I saw later said: "Ospreys sometimes build nests in the cliffs opposite this overlook.  Though the nests may be five feet in diameter, they are difficult to spot against the vast cliff-scape.  Watch for osprey riding updrafts throughout the canyon from May to September."
We enjoyed taking our photos near here.
This is one of the tour vehicles from Yellowstone Lodge.


The river below was of the brightest blue color which doesn't really show in the photos.


A reasonably comfortable bench carved out of the rock where we sat for a few minutes.
Dark clouds were moving in and we saw some lightning strikes in the distance.
It started to sprinkle but by this time we were in the car and ready to move on.  We have been very lucky with the weather.  There have been showers but we seem to move through those dark clouds quickly.
So, we have stopped  at Grand View and later Inspiration Point, all beautiful places. We are stopping a lot today and getting out to stretch more often.  
2.58 p.m. We just saw the biggest bull elk we have ever seen.  We watched as it ambled along in the woods until it eventually made its way into a clearing.  We heard its bellow, a surreal sound, first at high pitch and then in deep, gutteral low tones.  We had seen its mate also in the wood, a fleeting glimpse. And that's why I love Yellowstone, you just never know what the day will bring.  
We have a fellow traveler and his family to thank for this wondrous experience.  If we hadn't seen their car pulled off the road not too far in front of us, we would probably have driven by.  I rolled my window down and asked what they were all looking at.  They pointed into the trees and told us they had spotted a bull elk, a really big one.  We pulled in just ahead of them and strained our eyes.  There was definitely a big animal in there but the trees were thick and it was hard to see. 

Our two cars turned into a dozen, and it wasn't long before we were joined by many, and we were totally blocked in as people had stopped in the road.  You could say that parked cars at Yellowstone are like a siren song.  A car drove up alongside us and as I had my camera taking photos, I was patiently waiting for him to move so that I could resume taking my photos.  By this time we could not move backwards or forwards but in the end, on this narrow one-way road, with woods on either side, we saw a huge elk approach the clearing.  Those cars actually did us a big favor by blocking us in, as when they moved to get away from the oncoming animal, we had front row seats to nature at its best.  
I was in complete and total awe of this magnificent bull.  Impatient to get a better view around the car that had parked at the side of us, before the driver decided it would be wise to get the heck out of there, I was halfway out of the passenger side wanting to get that better look.  At the time the elk seemed a very long and safe distance away.  But all of a sudden that car suddenly got out of there and we saw why.  That beautiful beast was heading straight towards us at a fast trot that turned into a gallop.  I was shocked at how fast he covered the distance in such a short space of time, and quickly jumped back into the car, slamming the door.  Many others were running across the street  back to their cars.  We were still blocked from moving forward or back.
When that car had the sense to get away, it gave us a full view of the elk heading our way, and he was next to us in moments.
As Gregg was taking his own photos, he suddenly realized how fast the elk was coming.....













and literally thought he was going to stick his head in the window, which he wound up fast but the back window was still open. I had been trying to get a better look by straining my neck trying to see beyond the car previously blocking our view, and I kept saying, "Back window's still open, back window's still open!"  When good sense returned I realized a sheet of glass would not have been much protection, but brain was not engaged at the time and there lies the rub.  I thought that elk was going to stick his head right in.....
antlers and all.
At one point the elk's head was so close that I couldn't see anything beyond him, but thankfully he suddenly veered to our left as though turning on a dime, and went behind our car, filling up the whole rear window with his bulk.  He actually brushed up against our rear bumper.  
Other people who had stopped to get out of their cars for a better look, scattered in all directions as the bull approached.  Gregg handed me the camera to take pictures from my side, but by that time he was retreating into the woods and the camera's memory started flashing "full"!!!   Ah well, I am used to the retreat of animal derrières on this trip, and at least Gregg got these great photos of him coming towards us, but no, not one photo of his retreating behind.  It was an amazing experience.   When those big guys want to cross the road they are going to cross the road.   You can stay 100, 200, 300 yards away and we found with this experience, that doesn't make one wit of difference if that animal wants to get where he wants to go.

We wondered afterwards what we might have done differently as the situation was precarious.  We stayed in our car which is always recommended, apart from that one foot on the ground moment, and we were at the recommended distance from the animal but it came towards us at a full gallop, we didn't go towards him.  

I'm glad we didn't see any bears today, that would have been too much excitement.  This was enough of a close encounter, and one we never expected.  You just never know what is going to happen in Yellowstone.  It's always best to be aware that the unexpected can happen, and try to follow those advised guidelines, and think beyond them if you can.

Heart-stopping excitement over with, we happily chatted about what had just happened until we stopped at Virginia Cascades.  Again, real pretty down by the water.
Not too far from where we exit the park we came across another elk standing in the middle of the river.  If you see a line of cars with people pointing cameras, it's a sure bet that there is another treat in store, but there weren't too many cars in line this time. The elk was a younger one but he was giving everyone a show, turning his head around to scratch an itch on its back , but also being very aware of the people staring back at him.  
He looked very comfortable in the water, and kept company with several Canada Geese who were swimming nearby.
Today we got to look at a waterfall, a river, a glacial rock, the Yellowstone Canyon, ospreys on a nest, a tiny chipmunk and a huge bull elk, and another smaller one cooling itself in a river.

This is our last night in West Yellowstone.  We are heading for the Grand Tetons tomorrow.
And that was the end of my post.  We have been to Yellowstone three times, and hope to go for a forth when things settle down. 

I hope you have enjoyed this account of our day at one of my most all time favorite National Parks.  Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.




22 comments:

  1. It seems excitement always follows you on your trips! Great photos, but my favorites are the chipmunks and the canyon shots with the river winding throgh it. So immense and beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Ginny, I miss the trips but am content staying at home until the time is right :) It sure is a beautiful place.

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  2. That sounds wonderful - thank you for sharing this exciting (and beauty packed) day with us again.

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  3. Hello Denise,
    Yellowstone is one of my favorites parks. I enjoyed this look back at your trip, the wildlife sightings are just awesome. Great photos. Take care, enjoy your day! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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    1. It's magnificent isn't it Eileen? Thank you and for the sentiments :)

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  4. every single photos is amazing. the elk wins 1st place under amazing... what a wonderful trip and this keeps your memories sharp when you browse through it. did you keep the bear spray? i wonder if it works on people like in stead of mace. that canyon is awesome. so are your photos

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    1. Thanks Sandra, they are incredible animals. Yes we kept the bear spray for many years :) I never found that out whether it worked on people :)

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  5. Nice photos of your trip several years ago. I am shocked your old blog no longer exists. Too bad.

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    1. Thanks Gigi, the old blog was giving a lot of people problems and that's why I changed it to this one. I also changed to a new laptop and thought the timing was right to start fresh.

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  6. This was so exciting, had my heart pounding. Thank you for taking us with you!

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    1. You are very welcome Martha, so happy you enjoyed it :)

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  7. I would love to see Yellowstone again someday.

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    1. I hope you get there William, it is an unforgettable place :)

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  8. Oh, my, that with the elk was something else! Such an adventure.

    In case I don't get back here, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

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    1. Hi Rose, it was quite an adventure to be sure. Hope you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year :)

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  9. Loved this post. You got some amazing pictures--especially that cute little chipmunk and the giant elk ones. That was quite an adventure with the elk. I was holding my breath while reading it.

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    1. Thank you Great-Granny G :) I enjoyed the cute little chipmunk as much as I did the elk.

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