27 June 2006

No Cameras, Amazing Things

Well, it happened again. We drove into Yellowstone National Park yesterday without the cameras and saw some really cools stuff. We went in mainly to find out if our Golden Eagle Pass expired at the beginning of July or the end of July and to ask some questions about bike trails. We also needed to drive out to West Yellowstone and renew our membership with the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and to say hi to the wolves there.

On the drive in we of course saw Elk because they are everywhere. They were hanging out in the lawn in the Mammoth Hot Springs area. So here is something I don’t understand, there are signs everywhere that say “Danger: Do Not Approach Wildlife” so what do people do? They walk up as close as they can get to snap pictures, and some of these geniuses use their flash in broad daylight. Have they never seen “When Animals Attack”? I chalk it up to survival of the fittest, if they are stupid enough to walk right up to the animals, then they deserve their fate.

As we moved along toward our ultimate goal of West Yellowstone, we came upon a wildlife jam (everyone stopped to check out something on the side of the road), this time it turned out to be a fully-grown black bear. Again, people were getting out of their cars and running, as if that wouldn’t spook a bear, to see it. And not just see it from the side of the road, but to wander out into the field it was grazing in. Bill and I have talked on a couple of different occasions about just sitting around with cameras rolling during things like this waiting for people to get eaten so we can make our own “When Morons Don’t Read the Warnings” videos. Every piece of literature the Park gives you has warnings in yellow and orange about the dangers of approaching the wildlife. My favorite is the bright orange flyer in the park paper that says, “Many visitors have been gored by buffalo. Buffalo can weigh 2000 pounds and sprint at 30 miles per hour, three times faster than you can run.” And yet here people are every time, not just getting out of their vehicles but walking, and running, up to the animals and using flash cameras. Incredible.

Farther along we saw a couple of buffalo, same thing with the people. Then on the drive out to West Yellowstone, in the Bald Eagle Conservation Area, we saw babies in the Bald Eagle nest. When I say babies, understand these birds, there were two of them, were the size of very large crows, but they were baby bald eagles. Their heads weren’t white yet, but you could tell they weren’t crows. Very cool.

We got out to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and renewed our membership. We didn’t spend a lot of time there because there were a lot of people and sometimes that’s just hard to deal with. We walked a lap and saw the wolves; they are still decked out in their winter coats. We usually see them in the middle of July when they are still shedding their winter coats so they look kind of mangy. It was cool to see them still all fluffy. We also took a gander at the grizzlies there, one of which had killed a crow. The grizzly pen attracts a lot of crows because of the food they get, and these crows are huge! There were a bunch of little kids behind us on the viewing platform. Every now and then you’d here a kid say “Mommy…I think that bear is eating one of the crows” in a small, I don't know how to react to that, kind of voice.

So all in all we had an awesome day in the park minus our cameras. Maybe we’ll just keep leaving them at home.