Wednesday, September 06, 2000

Worldcon Chicago Wednesday #2

Bismarck ND to Jackson WY. 715 miles

This was Yellowstone day, or rather 5 hours through Yellowstone. This was also a personal record, but not one I want to ever break. Five days is much better, and I wouldn't mind trying for five weeks. I told myself that I would check with Canyon Village in the park and if they had a room, I would spend the night and make up the miles later in the trip, but as luck would have it, the last available room was taken just minutes before I got there.

Still, Yellowstone is a place where a lot can happen in just a few hours. It started before I reached the park, just on the other side of Beartooth Pass. There was a huge expanse of freshly burned forest. The smell of smoke was still strong. This was just one of the many burns I had already seen this trip.

Up on the pass, it started to snow, and quite heavily, at that. I passed a snowplow coming up the other direction to handle the little drifts that were starting to gather on the road. I felt sorry for the motorcyclists who were stopped at a viewpoint to bundle up. Several cars turned back from the pass, although it was still quite passable.

The first animal I spotted in the park was a deer, but it was far from the last. In Lamar Valley, I spotted a herd of Buffalo off in the distance, and just past Tower Junction, the road was clogged by the many vehicles that had stopped to observe a black bear and her two cubs, just twenty feet or so from the road. I got some great video.

However, Yellowstone was not immune to the dry spell, and the lakes and rivers were all down several feet. Some of the watering holes I had seen in years past were dried out.

After passing through Canyon Village and stocking up on supplies, I walked over to the Upper Falls, and was scolded by a squirrel.

Down by Fishing Bridge, I stopped to marvel at the trout that no one is allowed to fish and then on down by Lake Yellowstone. By then it was getting rather cold, and I was NOT going to close up the Jeep in Yellowstone! I had not brought a coat this trip, but two shirts, a sweater, a wool pullover and a windbreaker, together with the heater running full blast at least made it tolerable.

I saw the steam from the geysers, but this trip, they were going to be ignored. After several trips, it is the animals that draw me there, time and again.

And my observations weren't done yet. While trying to make it to Grand Teton before I lost all my light, I saw a male and female elk near the road, and then a few miles farther on, I saw a pair of bull moose grazing in the distance. Of course, the video camera was ready at hand.

Finally, I reached Lake Jackson, and although the sun had set, there was still quite enough light to take pictures of the Tetons, and the mists rising in their valleys.

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