Numbers 6: 24-26

The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Newsy Updates

Interestingly enough, due to the frigid weather we are in, which is apparently early this year (lucky us, ha!) the Elk carcass hasn't been touched yet by predators. The bears are, we guess, fat from berries and other downed animals and have already gone into hibernation mode. The coyotes and wolves traditionally live on the other side of the mountain from us in the park so haven't picked up the scent yet. We saw magpies on it yesterday but the birds aren't strong enough to break skin so have to wait for the dogs and bears to start the break down process.

We are all cleaned up in the cabin and the car is packed for an early start tomorrow. We plan to hike in Custer State Park if the weather is better there and do a drive by Mount Rushmore on our way to Kansas. Estimated date to reach Dunnellon is Friday.

I asked Bob to look online yesterday while I was cleaning the cabin to see what the travel home temps were supposed to be so we could pack appropriately and I vacuum sealed the rest of the clothes. I packed like I saw him packing, warm clothes for cold weather mostly with one pair of shorts for when we reach Florida. So I looked at the cities myself this morning and after we leave Yellowstone, everywhere else is in the 70's or higher for the whole drive. Hmmm. Guess we're repacking today :)

We hope to attend church this morning but the wind is gusting up to 50mph and it sounds like the roof is going to fly off! It has already rained and cleared and cloudy again and it's only 10am. A last walk in the park would be perfect except not if we're going to blow away! Barbara Snow and we are packed and on GO!

Here is a shot of the Yellowstone Association store in Gardiner. All of us 'insiders' refer to it as YA. :)

Here is the famous Roosevelt Arch, erected in 1903, in honor of then President Roosevelt who signed the legislation to make Yellowstone the first National Park.

Here is the Gardiner River that runs along the entry road from the north entrance (from Gardiner). It looks rather tame here but has many pretty rapids all the way in. The Elk and Big Horn Sheep like to wade through different areas for refreshing drinks, especially in the warmer months.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!! :)

So the forecast according to our iPhones (we have zero tv hook up here so can't even remember what live tv is) the Weather Channel said we had a good chance of snow and ice this week from Tuesday night to Thursday late...up to 18 to 20." "Bring it on" we said. Instead the clouds made a nice circuitas route around our area and we got nothin!

So imagine our wonderful surprise when we got up this morning to snow in the valleys, on the mountains, trees and bushes, roof tops, etc. all around us.

Here is the view off our back deck. There are a number of mountains the clouds.

Bob and I waited for the folks in the cabins to leave for their respective courses and we set off on foot to travel up the road to take pictures.

This is the view from the front porch.

 Yep, that's me bundled up in front of the Caretaker's cabin. Hey, we do live in Florida and it was 32 with a cool breeze.

 More mountains with the clouds hanging around.

 Eventually, the clouds broke up some and we even saw some blue sky peek through. When the sun actually came out in short spurts, we unzipped our coats. That is until the wind blew again, ha!


Oh look, I found my Christmas tree for this year. Do you think I could put one of these 30' beauties on the top of our car and get it home?? Hmmm.

 Our favorite little shack/cabin with snow on the roof and walkway. I took a plastic bag and gloves up a few weeks ago and 'policed' the area. It appears to be a summer hang out for teens. It is still clean now so we can leave it smiling.

 Okay, here's the last one. I've heard they get more beautiful as winter really moves in, but we had fun on our walk breathing in the cool, clean air and reveling in the beauty of the nature around us.

BREAKING NEWS...Yesterday, across the Yellowstone River, right below the cabins, we watched a large bull elk...well let me just say he was playing with the females in his little harem. To the side there was another bull, obviously younger, with a lot less rack of antlers, but he was hanging around. After our walk this morning, I saw a bull elk with a large female and a yearling and calf, probably both hers. They walked down the hill toward the river but the bull disappeared. As I went back to watch the progress of the elk, the female and youngins were walking away from the river to the east but all 3 looked very nervous and antsy and they eventually disappeared from view. Later Barbara Snow and Bob saw a Ranger through our spotting scope walking down the path toward the river and then back up to the parking area, about a 2 mile walk. After a short while I spotted this same Ranger walking back in the same direction and this time I watched him all the way. He was carrying what appeared to be a pair of large clippers and walked to a little stand of trees  and there was the large male elk, dead.

Our consensus is the younger male gored the older with his antlers in a fight last night and the older went down to the trees to rest and died. The Ranger actually had a saw and he removed the elks antlers and it looked like he pulled a tooth and took blood samples. For the Rangers to have found this male so quickly, I surmise he must have had a tracking collar on.

 Sooo, life ends for one but that aids others to continue on. My bet is we'll see a Grizzly bear on him first. Bob thinks Coyotes. The coolest part is we have a 'front row seat' until we leave in a few days to see the action. More pictures and drama will be reported! By the way, the purpose of removing the antlers is to keep poachers away.

He is the white spot between the two closest little trees.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Butt, Butt, Butt...

Well, this just could be fun! We have so many pictures of mammals walking away that I thought I'd post a bunch. I will list them in random order, but it's up to you to NAME THAT CRITTER!!

  Bob, Chipmunk, Barbara Snow...

 Hmm, butterfly (Okay, that's a gimme)...Mountain Sheep, Bison (Buffalo) - Male and Female, Ground Squirrel....

Customs Agent, Barbara (me), Black Bear, Grouse, Canadian Goose, ordinary cows...

 Total Strangers Ascending Steps, Grey Squirrel, Raven, Bull Elk, Female Elk...

Osprey, Marmot, Male Pronghorn, Lizard and Bo the Dog. Ok, I think that's it. Have fun!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

10 WildLife Facts In and About Yellowstone

Bob was able to take a Wildlife Course for Yellowstone Park and here are a few of the fun facts he learned:

1. Osprey build nests around water at the highest pinnacle they can find. (Pretty much like Florida :) They are great fishers and provide regurgitated food for the young until they are ready to leave the nest, which is several months. The young enjoy the free food source so much that even after mom and dad are gone they will continue to come back to the nest hoping for a handout.

2. Moose live in Yellowstone, however, they are way too elusive for us to see. That being said, they normally hang around ponds and small lakes in higher elevations to feast off the vegetation living in the water. Their long legs allow them to easily navigate deep snowfalls making it difficult for wolves to hunt. While there are moose in Yellowstone, this is not one of their primary habitat areas.  Bob was guaranteed in his course to see a moose and here it is. By the way, the plural of moose is not meese :) If you don't see the moose in this picture, let me know!! (Hint: look at the highest tree).

3. Sheepeater Cliffs is an area where sheep eat. Ok, it's not. It's where the Sheepeater Indians principally resided. And yes, they did eat sheep and use their skins and bones for their commerce. They were one of the few tribes that did not become dependent upon the horse after they were introduced but stayed true to their culture. One of their prized possessions to trade and use was a small bow made from big horn sheep that was capable of a 50 pound torque and was an excellent hunting weapon. These particular cliffs are made from basalt volcanic rock.

4. Sunrise...Sunset. We look at 4 mountains from the cabins looking south from east to west: Mount Everts, Bunsen Peak (which we've climbed twice), Sepulcher Mountain and Electric Peak.

The bison and elk travel around the tops in herds or alone until the weather turns cold and then they migrate to the lower plains. We saw snow on several surrounding mountain tops last week!

We've been told there are 3 seasons rather than 4 in Yellowstone. July, August and Winter!

 Not bad, Bob, not bad!

5. Waterfalls are plentiful around the park due to the abundance of water that bubbles up from the ground. Here is one near Sheepeater Cliffs. The native fish is Cutthroat Trout which is important to the Ecosystem of Yellowstone, particularly the bears.

6. Pronghorns are not sheep and they are not goats. They are most closely related to antelope and are simply called Pronghorns. They have 4 stomachs as do Elk and Bison but they are the only animal capable of digesting sage which is abundant in the area. Therefore, they are usually seen grazing in the lower meadows. The males from birth have a distinctive black streak described commonly as Elvis sideburns! The streak on this one below is hard to see but look below his jaws close to his neck.

 Male Pronghorn

7. Elk. Let's see, we have about a thousand pictures of Elk so it's difficult to choose what to show. There is a herd of about 18 females and young hanging around the cabins that we see at some point each day. Prior to the wolves being reintroduced into Yellowstone, in 1995 and 1996, the elk had swelled to over 20,000+ in the park and had to be thinned by sharp shooters every year. When the wolves came in, the herds were naturally thinned and are down now to around 8,000.

This is a mama with twins. Most calve one per season.

 8. Bull Elk. There are 4 males in Mammoth currently herding a number of females and young from grassy area to grassy area. They have been putting on quite a show. The largest male has been attacking all vehicles in it's path allowing for quite a human following and great entertainment. Here is the largest of the males.

 We watched this guy start trotting toward a Ranger's truck. The Ranger jumped in and backed it up out of harm's way. Very comical!

9. And now here are the sheep. There are some steep cliffs close to the northern gate immediately south of Gardiner, MT.

We have seen these Big Horn Sheep several times, up high and even along the road side. How they walk and jump along these cliffs is amazing.

This guy climbed up to a peak and posed for us. You can imagine the cars that are piled up on the sides of the roads every time this flock makes an appearance.

10. The Yellowstone Rangers. They wear brown uniforms and have official ranger cars. We watched a Ranger with lights on 'escort' a grizzly bear from our spotting scope in the cabin up the mountain range last night. The people with orange vests on are volunteers. :)

Remember if you just want to view the pictures just click on one and they will pop up in a row!