Saturday, August 23, 2014

Video Entertainment

A couple of videos taken this past week in Yellowstone while we were watching the grizzlies and wolves...not gruesome, but there is a dead bison visible.

The first one is the white female wolf trying to pester the grizzly enough to make it leave...did not work.

The second one show the sow grizzly making the large male grizzly chase her...we thought it was to keep him away from the 2 yearlings, but he chased them a few times too.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Devil's Tower and Crazy Horse

Devil's Tower
Yesterday we packed up and left Bozeman.  Thankfully the rain held off until we put the cover over the trailer.  It looks like we are done with the camping portion of the trip.  Weather isn't looking so hot...thunderstorms are popping up all over the West.

We decided to return by a different route than our usual path so we could visit Devil's Tower.  I have to say that I had never heard of it...that evidently makes me "weird."  Our 31st anniversary was spent in Gillette, WY.  We ate dinner at the Prairie Fire okay beer though not a Cold Smoke or Bozone.  It did have outdoor dining that allowed Cooper so a win for the evening. 

Long Horns
Devil's Tower is only an hour away so we arrived before the crowds which was really nice.  Just as we were driving up we noticed a couple of bison and a small herd of long horns...kind of a cool sight right in front of Devil's Tower.  

The Tower became the very first National Monument in 1906.  It is one odd looking area compared to the surrounding landscape.  There are a few theories as to how the Tower was formedThe one agreed upon idea was that it was formed by an intrusion...or the forced entry of magma into a rock formation.  The outer layer wore away leaving behind the harder rock...the Tower that we now see.  The problem is that people can't seem to agree on exactly how this all occurred.  Like I said it is an odd formation.   

Smoke Ring Scupture by Junkyo Muto
Several Native American Tribes consider the Tower sacred and it has several other names...Bear's Tipi, Grizzly Bear's Lodge, Bear Lodge Butte, Tree Rock.  One Native American story tells of a boy getting chased by a bear.  He prayed to the Great Spirit to save him and the huge rock rose beneath him carrying him up to safety.  The bear tried to climb the rock and left huge claw marks. 

Colonel Dodge documented the first sighting of the rock was in 1875.  Somehow the original translation was mistranslated (of course)...the Indian word for the Tower should have been "Bear Lodge" not "Bad God's" which was changed to Devil's Tower cause it 'fit better'. 

Crazy People

Back side of Tower
I took the 1.3 mile hike around the base of the Tower.  Several climbers were visible on several of the 220 climbing routes...crazy people.  The hike was a nice easy paved trail...about 30 minutes or so with all the picture taking I do.  Bill stayed with Cooper at the visitor center (no dogs on trails in National Parks/Monuments) while I hiked.  

He said that it was interesting watching people jump out of cars, take a quick picture and jump back into the car.  Very few actually walked up the path for a better picture...even fewer completed the trail.  We seem to see that type of activity a good bit when we're in Parks...rushing from one thing/site to another and not spending any time anywhere.

Almost as soon as I finished the hike the clouds started rolling in and we decided to head off towards Crazy Horse.  A totally different 'tourist site' than our usual preference.  There is something compelling about the Crazy Horse Project that intrigues us.  It is certainly an amazing work that must have been a daunting task to have undertaken by Korczak Ziolkowski in 1948. 

The sculpture is so HUGE.  A few figures to ponder: the head is 87 1/2 feet tall, the arm is 263 feet long, the horse's head is 219 feet tall, the base is 641 feet long and 563 feet tall.  

The completed head
The face was completed in 1998 well after the death of Ziolkowski (1982) and millions of tons of rock have been moved.  No where is it written when Crazy Horse will be completed.  We're not sure we'll ever see it finished and cannot imagine someone spending 40+ years doing this knowing he'd never see it completed.  Amazing that all of the work is still being overseen by his wife and children along with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation...and all privately funded.

Marble Model 1/300th scale

Yet more crazy people

Long Horns and Bison
Rickety ladder from 1800's
Black tail prairie dog

Cooper watching other "dogs"
After leaving Crazy Horse we drove by Mount Rushmore on our way to Rapid City, SD.  Our plan was to visit the monument the next morning so that the sun would be on the faces, but since it was on our way we did a drive by.  Sad to say we were disappointed.  The sculpture looks so small after seeing Crazy Horse.  We knew that the 4 Presidents would all fit on Crazy Horse's head and hair...according to the Crazy Horse Foundation...but it appeared even smaller.  Just not our thing I suppose.

UPDATE:  8-22-14
Woke to rain/fog so we decided time to point heading back out to Mt. Rushmore since we would not see it in this weather.  Heading home instead... 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

So Worth It

Sow and her cub on the carcass
What a day...5:00 AM comes around super early, but we hit the road 20 minutes after our feet hit the ground.  As great as camping is in Hyalite Canyon it is a LONG way to the section of Yellowstone we needed to be... three hours if we don't get stopped by slow cars, construction, or animals.   
Bull Moose
Our only distraction this morning were a couple of bull moose in the burned out woods close to the road.  We had to stop.  It is a requirement to stop if one sees an animal with antlers as large as this guy's.
How on earth do they maneuver through the woods?

Darn stick blocks our best efforts

Bear takes a bite
After less than 10 minutes of clicking pictures of a moose with a tree blocking his face we headed on towards West Yellowstone.  Record time... we were at the carcass site before 8:30 AM along with quite a large group of people.  
We were able to park right alongside of a hill where we could watch the action.  Coop even was able to get out of the car to watch the action...25 yards of pavement rule was met.  
Female white wolf
Dark gray male wolf
Quite a lot of action to watch too.  Bears were on the carcass... as were two wolves waiting their turn on the rise above the bears.  We even spotted the black wolf (that makes THREE wolves) patiently waiting and watching up the hillside!  
We had thought that the wolves would be long gone by the time the sun rose so it was pretty exciting to watch the interplay between the multiple bears and the wolves.
One leaves as another arrives
We watched at least three bears take their turns... get full and wander off to nap.  The last bear ate for a good long time and did not want to leave it to the wolves.  
The white wolf tried sneaking in for a bit and got chased off a few times.  She eventually wandered down to the creek for a drink leaving the grey wolf to pester the bear.  
White wolf sneaks a bite
Both the black and white wolves got tired of waiting and moved on up the hillside out of sight.  The bear got so full that it was just 'going through the motions' and finally left the carcass to nap.  Mr. Grey Wolf ate for a bit and then he took off.  We took off soon after to grab a late breakfast ourselves.
Gray wolf gets his reward
When we returned we only had one set of bears to watch before an hour of not much happening on the carcass... well we did watch a few Bald Eagles visit the site along with the ever present ravens.  
We actually left as a bear was snacking away... sad to say, but we left before the bear did since we had the 3 hour return trip and wanted to get back to Bozeman before it was too late to grab dinner.  

Packing up to start the journey home... taking the long approach through Wyoming and South Dakota.  Should be fun... just no Grizzlies to watch.

Bear does not want to leave
Finally full the bear heads off...wolf watches

What's up

Bear passes in front of the white wolf

***as always click the pictures to enlarge***

Monday, August 18, 2014

More Bears in Yellowstone

Three Grizzlies...2 yearlings and a larger male
One last trip to the Park today to watch the critters.  As luck would have it ALL the bison from Saturday had vanished... except for one.  It was actually deceased, but it had A LOT of company.  

We're thinking it was one of the injured bison we watched on Saturday.  Specifically we think that this is the female who had great difficulty moving and spent a good deal of time laying down.  The other bison is still close by and is still not moving well.  The Rangers 'claim' that bison are "tough and some recover from leg injuries"...some do not.

How about 4 bears visiting while we were watching... later we found out the number had climbed to NINE bears at various times during the afternoon.

Large and In-Charge Male Grizzly
It was quite interesting watching the interaction of these bears.  The Ranger said that 'bears do not share food'... unless they are siblings or cubs.  

It appeared that 2 smaller bears were yearling siblings and their mother were all together at various parts of the day.  
Uh Oh...

None of these three challenged each other for access to the carcass.  That was not the case when the really large black grizzly bear showed up.  Everyone stayed away from him  including the sow.  The larger male would give chase if any of the other bears strayed too near the carcass.  No outright fights broke out while we watched the action, but lots of posturing and chasing.
Of course we have changed our travel plans due to this discovery.  Rather than break camp on Tuesday we're heading back bright and early to watch the carcass.  It is our second one of the season and we never thought we'd get another chance to observe bears, wolves or whatever else may appear so we are taking advantage of this discovery. 

The 2 young bears share the carcass

On the look out for trouble
Here comes Trouble...with a capital T

The young give it up
Here comes Mom to the rescue...not

Make no eye contact...ever

Is he still there?    

A new fashion accessory

Really large one

 **As always click the pictures to us you want to see these guys larger!**

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Hyalite Creek
We sat in camp today and basically did nothing but nap and knit.  Well I did run into town and picked up some groceries and heaven forbid we run out of Cooper food.  A quick stop for a latte' and to upload a couple of posts then back to Hyalite Canyon. 
It was a beautiful sunny day and we did a short hike and I spent the afternoon taking pictures of weeds and bugs.  
Ladybug on thistle

Bugs in flight at dusk

Met a lovely lady by the name of Catherine, camping on her own at the age of 75.  She had just bought a Scamp trailer and we'd been dying to see the inside of one.  It seemed awfully small for two people...

Our first fire of the season was quite nice and toasty... the canyon has been chilly and damp so the fire felt wonderful. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bison and a Squirrel with Attitude

We spent our day in Yellowstone...yes again.  The dog is pooped from his hike yesterday and we are just a wee bit tired ourselves.  What better way to spend our day than by the river watching bison.

Our lunch was enjoyed along the banks of the Yellowstone watching bison cross the river and wander the hillsides.

Sometimes you have an itch...

and a rock comes in handy...

for a very long time

Always need to get to the other side

Coop got some quality time with a squirrel...if we could speak squirrel we are pretty sure he cussed
us out real good.