Posted by: greentangle | July 27, 2016
Posted by: greentangle | June 15, 2016
In more ways than one, I fear. I only stayed in Yellowstone for a few weeks. If you’re interested in why, and more about my life there, you can read about it at http://hardwoodtowhittle.blogspot.com/2016/05/if-this-is-duluth-it-must-be-october.html Here are my last photos from the park.
The walk to work was a little over a mile and it was always interesting. There is a trail which I usually took, but if it was wet or early enough that traffic wasn’t too bad I’d sometimes walk along the edge of the road because I was able to get a farther view of upcoming wildlife than I could on the trail. But there was little if any shoulder and I’d cross the road a few times en route for safer walking. Sometimes all the preparation and precaution didn’t do any good, such as the very first morning when I was on the road with a big drop off beside me and this bison herd coming at me in both lanes before they got off the road.
Fortunately a car came along and scared the ones on my side of the road over to the other side or I might have made the news. The next morning I came out of my trailer and spotted a lone bull bison in the area who seemed to be going away from where I needed to go, but as I proceeded he changed directions and I had to keep retreating. He wound up galloping down my dirt road at me as I stood behind my neighbor’s car. He was actually just trying to get to this old road beyond my trailer and I was in his way. Note the sign in the lower left declaring the road closed to hikers due to bear activity—I took the photo from my doorway.
I only saw one bear in the park, a big black one on my way to work on a morning when I didn’t have my camera. Other wildlife seen but either not photographed or not shown here: ravens, mallards, killdeer, sandhill cranes, ground squirrel, hare, pronghorn.
Yes, it did snow while I was in Yellowstone.
On one of my days off, I hiked all around the Mammoth terraces—the many boardwalks and stairs of the lower, and the narrow road of the upper. There were many changes in less than three years. A section of gravel sidewalk had been replaced with a wooden bridge because of water flowing across. In the next photo, the boardwalk used to go straight across—and I don’t think I ever passed there without seeing some fool stick his hand in the water to see how hot it actually was.
My favorite hike took me up the hill behind the hotel to open fields of sagebrush and wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. I had been feeling disappointed that I hadn’t seen a magpie yet, so was happy when one appeared for photos. And a lovely mountain bluebird as well.
It’s a good idea to carry bear spray when hiking in grizzly country (or bison country, I suppose, but they seem so damn unstoppable to me that I illogically wonder if it would even affect them) but the most important way to protect yourself is to stay alert and keep looking around. That has the added benefit of showing you scenes you probably would have missed otherwise, such as this elk bedded down in the sage. This was a few days before the first elk calf of the season was reported, so that may be what was going on here.
Here’s a view of part of my trail home.
It’s not much farther beyond the bridge to where I lived, but it’s uphill and curving with scattered trees and limited views. One evening I was startled by movement ahead of me, and thought bear but it turned out to be deer so I went home and had a beer.
After my friend picked me up to give me a ride to the bus station, we took a short trip farther into the park up the road to Swan Lake Flat where we’d hiked in past winters when the road was closed. She wanted one last look at grizzly bears and mountain goats she’d seen in the previous couple days she’d been in the park, but we didn’t spot them.
Later that day, between Bozeman and Livingston on the bus home, I was watching the passing scenery for probably the last time when for a few seconds passing, I believe I saw an animal I’d never seen in the wild—the size, shape, and movement all said mountain lion to me, although the color seemed off but that might only have been due to the shadow the animal was in. I certainly have no idea what I was looking at if not a mountain lion. So I guess that’s a good way to leave the area, with one final gift.
A new article on the problems.
Posted by: greentangle | May 1, 2016
Now that I have your attention, here are some photos from the past two days, most taken at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. These two photos are of a bear from Alaska where they grow much larger than in Yellowstone.
Here’s a photo of a wolf I took while I was at the Center.
And here’s one I took through my hotel room window across the street. It’s not a bad perk to see and hear wolves howling, and I’d be quite happy to live in this room.
I love ravens and they choose to spend a lot of time here, getting scraps of the food which is hidden around the bear enclosure. I watched a pair of them dancing in the air, with one flipping over and then grasping talons with the one flying above, but didn’t manage to get good photos or video. You can see from the first photo that they’re quite willing to hang around a grizzly bear, but when the bears are rotated in the exhibit, the ravens all leave when the bears are gone and there’s just a human in the cage hiding the food. Clearly, they’re picky about which mammals they hang out with. One even mooned me.
This fellow wasn’t a captive; we met downtown.
I’ve been surprised how many stores aren’t open yet, but unfortunately I’ve already seen some of the busloads of tourists which I’ve heard has been the biggest negative change since I was last here. One store that is open has an ex-roommate of mine working there and I stopped in to chat with him today.
I fell in love with this rough-legged hawk, and have many photos to prove it.
Here’s a golden eagle,
and some falcon feet, peregrine to be exact.
I’ll be leaving town soon, and although I won’t be going in this direction, you get the idea.
I’ve had very mixed feelings about coming back to Yellowstone, but it has felt good to be back in the area. That could change due to the job, or the living arrangement, or the hordes of tourons, but I’m glad I made it back.
As I’ve written, I won’t have internet where I’ll be living. I’ll have some limited access to it elsewhere, but I don’t expect to use it often and likely won’t post here at all while in the park. Hope you enjoyed these last pre-park photos.
Posted by: greentangle | April 30, 2016
West Yellowstone, Montana, that is. And forgive me if I get distracted typing this, because I’m also sitting in my hotel room watching and listening to two large white wolves across the street in the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Nice perk for a room which is larger than my apartment. I was at the Center briefly today and my camera was having a very lucky day–but that’s tomorrow night’s post. First I have to get here.
I’d been loathing the thought of the bus trip to the point that I really wasn’t feeling any enthusiasm about coming back to Yellowstone. While brooding about that on my way from Duluth to St. Paul, I got a vague sense that the trees looked strange and eventually realized they were leafing out unlike the familiar Duluth trees.
Due to bus schedules, I needed to spend the night at the St. Paul station–I actually thought that might be the best part of the trip because there’s wifi there. Joke was on me–because of a weekend event, everything had been moved and there wasn’t a single electrical plug for use. So a long first night with no sleep at all.
About 4 AM, I headed outside to wait for a bus over to Minneapolis. No info was available but it became half an hour after the bus was due and I decided that if it didn’t show up and one for Duluth did, I’d just go home. Eventually I got to Minneapolis and after another wait there, got on the bus headed for Montana. As we approached Fargo, I realized that I’d been traveling for almost 24 hours and still hadn’t gotten out of Minnesota.
After leaving Fargo, the bus was rocking down the highway because of the very strong wind, and we were warned that we might be stopped for a search by DEA/DOT agents. I thought it was nice that we were warned but it didn’t happen, and I wondered if anyone threw anything out unnecessarily.
Soon a Janis Joplin fan with large round tinted glasses and dozens of bracelets joined our group of travelers; when I spoke to her, she confirmed that they were soul mates or something like that. I chatted with a young man with guitar traveling from Buffalo to Idaho who was impressed I was going to work in Yellowstone and said he needed to do something like that so I gave him the name of the company which shall remain nameless (along with warnings). We compared winters, and he asked if I believed in climate change and seemed relieved when he could agree.
Later all that wind rocking the bus was put to use as we passed among more wind turbines than I’d ever seen before. They were not in a straight line, but scattered, and I felt like I was experiencing The War of the Worlds.
And finally on to the fracking area I assume to be the past reason for the ridiculous erratic route we followed. Flames rising, fenced off abandoned construction, all the scenes we’ve seen photos of. I guess it was interesting to see once, but now that it’s done and hardly any passengers got on in that area, could we please get the bus to go in a straight line again?
Crossing into Montana, a decent Big Sky sunset brightened my spirits for awhile until it got dark before any mountains appeared.
Off the bus for good at 4:15 AM. After it got light enough to see mountains for the first time of the trip
I walked Jackrabbit Lane until the sidewalk ran out (didn’t take long) and yes, I did see a rabbit in a parking lot.
Also at the bus stop were three new employees of my former employer. They’d had travel problems and been delayed and unable to get there by the time they were supposed to be picked up. Now the company wouldn’t pick them up until Tuesday, but no worries, if they didn’t have money for hotel rooms, there was a bare box of a bus waiting room they could live in. The six hours I had to wait for a ride suddenly didn’t seem that bad. When I told this tale to the person from my new employer who picked me up, he seemed to think that company didn’t care much about its employees. Indeed.
Perhaps they were too busy going after customers who’d like to spend $49,000 for 12 days of being flown around to spend a few hours in each of eight national parks. It’s not a joke, it’s Privel. OK, it is a joke, but it’s also Privel. I’d love to hear their spin on how that behavior is sustainable since they spend so much advertising pretending to care about that.
The winding road from station to hotel followed the Gallatin River with lots of beautiful surroundings–trees, cliffs, meadows. I’d never traveled that road before so I’ve already seen something new and pretty this year. And my first bison herd of the season.
Back tomorrow night with photos of bears and wolves and ravens, oh my. And they’re howling again across the street.
Posted by: greentangle | April 21, 2016
Capo’s got a brand new bear! Actually, a gen-u-wine Yellowstone bear (made in China) which I captured six years ago. I wanted him to have something to remember me by.
A funny moment when I got here and was unpacking — I set it down on the couch and he walked over to it and very gently picked it up and took it because he knew it must be for him.
It was in the low 70s on this day at the beach, but there was still snow along the edge of the Lake.
Who gets to yell Timber?
Apparently, the water’s a little higher than usual because that’s a “DOGIPOT”, not a nest box.
The road to Yellowstone:
“I want more bears.”
Posted by: greentangle | April 7, 2016
So . . . I’ve got a week left working at the library, then a week in Marquette, and then I’ll be practicing packing to see what I can carry to Yellowstone. It’s going to be a hellish trip out there. Jefferson, the bus company which took over the route after Rimrock was shut down, has ruined the trip in every possible way—times (I’ll have to spend a night at the station in St. Paul, leave Minneapolis early the next morning and then will arrive at 4:15 AM and have to sit for another six hours waiting for a ride—I guess waiting for dawn there will at least give me the trip’s first view of the mountains), locations (instead of a bus station near downtown Bozeman, I’m headed to a gas station ten miles away and won’t be able to spend any time in Bozeman, a favorite town), and route (instead of a straight trip along the interstate, I’ll be detouring through every fracking town in North Dakota). I investigated taking the train most of the way, but with all the extra connections and a hotel stay along the way, it would cost me four or five times as much which I can’t afford now.
Assuming my deteriorating body survives the trip and the elevation and the job, I’ll be in the park for over five months working for a different company, a company which is strongly opposed to people working more than forty hours a week, unlike my previous park employer which often schedules employees to work many more than five days in a row.
I had hoped to get a job at Tower, where the company has a better than average dorm (with three meals a day, and semi-private bathrooms instead of the standard communal down the hall) next to a thirty site primitive campground. It’s an area of the park with a lot of black bears and a three mile hike through the woods would have taken me to the Roosevelt area and my favorite thimbleberry patch. Unfortunately, by the time I applied, there weren’t any jobs which interested me left at that location. After hearing what was left in the park, I decided I’d wait another year and reapply.
During the following week, I realized I didn’t want to wait another year to see Yellowstone again, and that there was no guarantee I’d even be alive then. So I called back to see if a couple jobs we’d discussed were still available, and decided a job at Mammoth Hot Springs would be my best option. One plus at Mammoth is that because most of the employees there are driving to work from outside the park, people work eight hour shifts instead of the split shifts with two or three hours off in the middle of the day which this company requires at other locations. And when I think of missing Yellowstone, it’s the wildlife and those stunning views around Mammoth which I’m thinking of, not geysers or the canyon or the lake. Between not driving, my possible schedule, and where I’ll be living, I may not even have the chance to see those other parts of the park this year, and that doesn’t really bother me.
What’s most interesting to me about the upcoming season is that although I’ll be working in the same area of the park, I’ll be living a completely different life than I did before. I won’t be living in the big developed area around the hotel, but in an employee area a mile farther into the park and away from the tourists. I’ll have my own room, which is very rare for low-level park employees, in a trailer shared with one other person. There is a trail between home and work which I plan on walking most of the time for a beautiful mile commute, although I might get stuck in a bison jam in the spring or encounter the rare bear. I guess I’ll have to flag down a passing tourist. New bear spray—first purchase.
No meals are included with this job. The store at Mammoth has a very limited selection of expensive food, and I’ll hope to get occasional rides to a town to stock up on cans and produce for some cheap meals. Other than those options, if my schedule coincides with a meal I like at the cafeteria where I used to eat, I’ll probably be having some all you can eat meals there to get some vegetables and make up for the many meals I’ll probably be skipping. Between the walking required to get to work, whatever recreational walking I’ll do, and trying to spend as little money as possible (this job pays even less than what I used to make in the park, plus I’ll be paying rent in Minnesota unlike in previous years), I’m hoping to lose some weight this summer. One weight loss factor I’m not happy about will be the greatly reduced availability of the craft beers I’ve been enjoying for the past few years. My biggest disappointments in that area are that I’ll almost certainly miss Odell’s seasonal St. Lupulin and this one time only 12 pack from Sierra Nevada.
Another major difference will be that there will be no internet where I’ll be living. I’ve already unsubscribed from most of the email lists I’ve been on, but I’m still spending many hours a day online. Yet I’m actually looking forward to this change, and expect to be spending more evening time reading, listening to music which in some cases I haven’t played in years, and typing up old journals. Maybe I won’t even want to pay for internet again when I’m done in the park. I bought a cheap copy of Walden to take instead of my hardcover annotated copy, and I’ll hope to find some books worth reading there because I’m definitely going to miss the library and Minnesota’s great interlibrary loan program.
In any case, this probably means neither blog will have any activity while I’m in the park. I’d expect a last post on May 1st with photos of the grizzlies and wolves at West Yellowstone where I’ll be spending a couple nights to recover from the hellish bus trip. After that, you might not hear from me until mid-October. But I’ll still be writing and photographing, so imagine how much time you’ll spend here once I post it all!
I don’t expect to feel as much a part of the place as I used to—I was blessed to be able to experience the Yellowstone ecosystem almost year round for a few years and I won’t get that feeling back. Now I’ll just be a tourist on an extended vacation. I expect this season to be a one last time venture to hopefully say goodbye to the place under better circumstances, but given that I have no idea what I’ll be doing after Yellowstone, that might be open to change. If my landlord had agreed to let me out of my lease, I probably would have put my stuff back in storage before heading west to save money. Instead I had to get a one month extension so the lease wouldn’t expire while I’m a thousand miles away, and I’ll have to make a decision about renewing it while I’m in the park.
Posted by: greentangle | March 24, 2016