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Published: August 28th 2006
Austin and the IncrediBULL!
This is the big one! This guy was huge! (And we didn't want to get any closer)
Day 21 - August 25, 2006
Today we went to Yellowstone. It is amazing. It looks so different from what I imagined. I always thought it was mostly flat and dry, like the pictures you see around the geysers, but it’s not. There are several rivers, meadows full of grasses, mountains, rocky terrain, and of course, the geysers. Even though the geysers are interesting, the wildlife is infinitely more fascinating. At the gate, the attendants hand out brochures detailing the dangers of messing with wildlife. For instance:
Many visitors have been gored by buffalo. Buffalo can weigh 2000 pounds and sprint at 30 miles per hour (three times faster than you can run). These animals may appear tame, but are wild, unpredictable, and dangerous.
DO NOT APPROACH BUFFALO
(this is accompanied by a picture of a huge bull tossing a hapless tourist, camera and all)
The first wildlife we saw was a herd of elk. They are really cool. Then, we saw the big guys of the park, the bison (buffalo). Man, are they amazing! We spent quite a while taking pictures. Surprisingly, Robert refused to go pet even the smallest ones (we saw a couple of
babies). One of the buffalo came right up to the RV, less than four feet away. It was really exciting. (But I still don’t understand why anyone would do Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls.) One of the bison we saw later in the day looked to be one of the “2000 pounders”. This guy was huge, even at a distance. We didn’t go into the field to get a closer look, he was definitely scary and seemed to want his solitude. Who were we to argue?
Bears are real problem here. That is to say, that tourist indifference and un-deference to bears is a real problem. When we visited Grand Teton National Park, they had a list of tickets that had been written for visitors. These included leaving food out and unattended, improper storage of food, and actually trying to lure a bear with food. I guess people are really lacking in common sense. These are the rules for bears: Alert Bears to your presence (make loud noises, shout, or sing). Do not hike after dark. Avoid carcasses, bears often defend this source of food. (Many other animals as well.) If you encounter a bear: do NOT run, bears
Just imagine the sulphur smell associated with these! (the more one can see the vapors, the worse the smell)
can easily outrun you. (Plus running may cause the bear to attack.) If the bear is unaware of you, keep out of sight and detour (hopefully downwind of the bear). If the bear is aware of you, but has not acted aggressively, slowly back away. Do not drop your pack, leave it on, it can protect you if you are attacked. Most bears can climb trees (even some adult grizzlies), so don’t even try it. If a bear attacks: do not run, stand still until the bear stops, then slowly back away. If you are attacked, try to lie on the ground completely flat on your stomach, with your legs spread and clasp hands over the back of your neck. (Again your pack protects your back). Remember that odors attract bears, so cooking anything in the wild is probably not a great idea. (This also means that showering before hiking is probably a good idea, but probably no perfume.) I am normally a relatively calm and clearheaded person, but I am absolutely sure that I would forget at least one of these suggestions if faced by an irate bear. If someone has firsthand experience, please let us know how it
The geysers are really cool. We followed the advice of the book on national parks that we bought back in MI and went to Old Faithful first, and then went to the other geysers. Unfortunately, this advice doesn’t work well in a RV, and in late August, when the masses are already gone from the park. We suggest stopping at each turnout or geyser viewing area that you come to on the right. It would be much easier. Old Faithful was pretty cool. It is the easiest one to get pictures of, even though it was cloudy. Andrew, the park ranger at Old Faithful, explained how we were sitting on top of one of the largest calderas in the world, of one of the largest volcanoes (supposedly a “super volcano” made infamous by a made-for-TV movie released last year). Because of this we are trying to get everything out on our website, so our trip will be there, just in case. Not that we will care.
Most people know that Yellowstone suffered a terrible fire back in 1988 and lost a lot of its forest. The evidence is everywhere. They have left the dead trees where
Really, these are different!
they stand, and (in a lot of cases) where they have fallen. You would think they could have sold them for something, to help the park. The fallen dead trees seem to be littered like matchsticks on the mountainside. It is a sad sight. (And I’m sure it rules out skiing anywhere out here!)
Scott met some Russians at the local Arby’s, one guy goes by the name of Boris. It reminds me of the movie “Hunt for Red October” where the officer says that he really wants to go to Montana. (I guess that the climate is mild for them, but the big areas here give them the same feeling of spaciousness that they had in Russia (other than the urban areas). Or could this just be the best place for witness protection?
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