Wednesday, March 10, 2010

wolf wednesday

We woke up yesterday at 4:30 and were on the bombs (snowcoaches) by 5:15 a.m. The trip was relatively smooth, even with the lack of the snow, and by the time we reached Madison the sun was up. At Norris we got off the bombs and boarded buses, and just like that we were at Mammoth and our winter season was over.

We drove into Gardiner for lunch, and a whole herd of Pronghorn were grazing along the Gardiner River.

On the way back from lunch, they were joined by a herd of elk.

We headed out to the Lamar Valley and settled in to our cabin at the Buffalo Ranch. It's still my all-time favorite place to wake up and fall asleep. This is the view of the valley, with the Buffalo Ranch in the lower left corner.

I made Steve some tea and convinced him to go out for a drive before dinner. It wasn't long before I screeched "pull over!"--how could you not stop for this guy?!

He was hard at work doing...well, he was doing SOMETHING to this sagebrush, but we're not sure what. It looked like he was attempting to pull it up by the roots, and he was pretty determined.

After a while he grew bored and strode away--just about the time his friend arrived on the scene.

I'm glad I was able to get just a *few* more coyote pics before we left.

This morning we woke up at 6:30 and hit the road. As we approached the Yellowstone Picnic area I spotted a few bison and then...STOP THE CAR! THERE IS A BLACK WOLF RIGHT THERE!

Steve looked at me to make sure I was awake and then backed up the car. But I wasn't dreaming.

He trotted a little further from the road and then laid down not far from the bison.

The bison watched him for a minute and then lost their patience--the biggest bull charged him and told him to get lost. He pretended to think about it for a minute

and then took off.

He paused for a moment to give us one more glance and then disappeared into the sagebrush, and over a ridge. This was closest wolf encounter we've ever had in the park, and there wasn't anyone else around.

To top it all off, as we came around the bend at Elk Creek we spotted this moose partially hidden in the shrubbery.

It was hard to leave the park, even knowing we'll be back next month. But the lure of Target and deep dish pizza calls, so we're off...

Monday, March 8, 2010

goodbye...for now

It's hard to believe it, but our winter stint is over. We ship out with the first batch of employees at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow. Today we cleaned out our room and loaded up our luggage on the Prinoth they parked in front of our building.

We decided to take one more walk around the geyser basin and say goodbye to the bison who've been our neighbors for these past few months.

While our stint at Old Faithful is over, our time in Yellowstone will stretch on. We'll have about a month off, and then we'll be back, this time living in the northern part of the park, in Mammoth Hot Springs. I'll work in Mammoth and Steve will commute down to Norris.

I guess we'll need to tweak the header on this blog, so that we can pick it back up when we return next month...

But for now, we're Chicago-bound! We'll spend tomorrow night out in the Lamar Valley at the Buffalo Ranch, and then we'll hit the road on Wednesday morning.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

bison friday

The season is winding down; the hotel closes on Sunday, and we ship out on Tuesday. We decided to hop on one more tour, so yesterday we tagged along on the last photo safari.

The theme of the day was bison--more specifically, bison on the road. We also saw several coyotes, and both bald and golden eagles. We found an elk carcass along the Madison that the "mystery pack" of wolves had taken down the night before, but sadly the wolves themselves didn't make an appearance.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

scenes from the thaw

We're on our third-straight day of 40 degree weather, and it's projected to last until Friday at least. What little snow we have left is melting rapidly. No wonder bears are waking up early: two grizzlies spotted at the south gate, and a set of grizzly tracks on the northern range.

Today we went for a hike. Not a ski, not a snowshoe, we didn't even wear snow boots. Here are some shots from our hike up Observation Point: