Memories of vacations past

273147_231924873497809_3803346_o

 

It was the morning of July 5th, 2005. My husband, and I with our daughter, husband and children headed north out of Colorado towards Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.  It was not my first trip to Yellowstone. I had gone on earlier trips there as a child and years later with our youngest girl.

The beautiful red mesas, buttes, and plateaus of Wyoming merged with the vistas of the serene Grand Teton Mountains as we entered Yellowstone. The sun disappeared as dusk settled over the mountains. We all watched for wildlife and enjoyed the scenic drive through steep terrain and thick forests.

Suddenly, my eyes caught sight of a beautiful animal standing still behind the brush. Too soon, it was gone from view. It looked like a gray wolf with its gray and white fur coat. Yet, from that distance I couldn’t be certain it was a wolf, or a coyote.

After checking into our cabins and getting a good night’s sleep, we got up early to go sight-seeing.

We headed first for the Norris geysers and Old Faithful. The strong sulfuric geysers smelled like burned hard-boiled eggs.

We stood, fascinated at the effect created by the boiling, bubbling pockets in the earth. Steam, heat and odor spewed forth from belching, gray puddles.

In the next three days, we explored the park, the sights of waterfalls, gorges, forests, lakes, rivers, went horseback riding, and hiked trails.

Amazed at the mammoth brown bodies and girth of the grazing bison, my grandson sat up on a mound of dirt  in front of our cabins watching them intently. They watched him just as intently looking too dangerously close.

One morning we headed across the park to the east side towards Roosevelt Lodge for breakfast and stopped to photograph the lush, green pastures and landscape. That night we enjoyed an old-fashioned cowboy style cook out and wagon ride through sage brush, prairies and pastures. Wildlife of all kinds roamed freely about undaunted to our encroachment on their habitat.

On the way back down to Canyon Village that night sitting contentedly in a wet marsh just a ways further was a big male moose. Parking the SUV on the side of the road, we all jumped out. My excited husband was once again ready with the camcorder and ran down the road towards the marsh. The moose got up and sauntered out of the marsh, up into the hills all the while unaware that my husband had captured his essence on tape.

A trip to the wolf and grizzly bear game preserve on the northwest side of the park was another place we visited while on this trip. The preserve had several different species of bears, mountain lions, snakes and other game set back into a natural area where they were treated and cared for as if in a royal zoo.

It was 6:00 a.m. and our last morning there when we drove south, watching the wildlife grazing for food when we spotted it. There, coming towards us was a huge male grizzly bear off the side of the road. The sun was just coming up over the horizon. What an amazing sight to see this beautiful creature foraging for his early morning breakfast. The large humped back bear sniffed the air as if sensing our presence parked, about fifteen feet away, snapping pictures and taping his every move and turn.

“This way, over here. Now! That’s it. That’s good. Great! We got him.” My husband said as he was sticking halfway out through the sun roof aiming his camcorder. The bear stopped and stared back as if daring us to come closer. We had no way of predicting his movement or reaction to our being there. My son-in-law was prepared with his foot to the pedal if we needed to get away in a hurry.

Before leaving the park that day we had photographed and videotaped grizzly bears, black bears, a moose, elk, wolves, coyote, fox, otters, bald eagles, and bison.

We reluctantly headed south out of the park through the Grand Tetons, thankful and felt blessed to see what our country and national parks has preserved and maintained for over one hundred years.

Although a big fire in 1988 destroyed much of the park’s trees and forests, it has since revived itself with new growth, and regeneration. Old burnt down trees lay beside the new seedlings and saplings reminding us that nature can restore it and compensate for its loss. It is a vivid illustration of rebirth.

The bears, bison and wildlife still remain one of the biggest attractions for tourists. But, because of the confrontations and attacks by bison and bears the rules were changed to protect visitors to the park. They aren’t allowed to feed peanuts to the bears like we did when I was a child as we hung out of car windows to get a good picture of them, luring them ever closer with the peanuts.

________________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2015

%d bloggers like this: