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Icy Roads? Bears and Wolves; Here, Grizzie; No Fish For You! A Four-Legged Vixen; Rudy’s in Trouble

We woke up to 32F this morning! Yes, FREEZING! Here’s the warning on our navigation computer at 0801, after the sun was up and warming things up to a toasty 35 – “Caution: Icy Roads”… with a snowflake even! Hard to believe the weather here in Yellowstone on September 2nd, when our friends back in Florida are sweltering in the 90s.

We took two opportunities (in between thunderstorms) on Saturday and Sunday to visit the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. It was really cool to see these predators up close, but not too personal. This smaller 600 lb. grizzly can run at 35 mph, so meeting him on the trail would be an exciting experience, to say the least. His claws are about 4-5 inches long, perfect for opening up the belly of a 500 lb. elk or… Shudder…

Here’s another bear, Sam (1,000 lbs.), looking for snacks on one of our rainy days; I got to thinking that I would not want to have this view of a grizzly out in the woods… gee, I wonder what is he is thinking about?  The grizzly’s unique hump is quite apparent; black bears do not have this feature.

Lest you think this talk of grizzly encounters is just hypothetical, take a look at the sign at the entrance to our campground in Gallatin National Forest, just three miles west of Yellowstone.We actually met two gals traveling in an RV who left salmon outside their door to attract grizzlies for a photo op; they were quite surprised when the bear they attracted not only ate the salmon, but ripped the door off one of their storage compartments to get at the bag of dog food there.

The wolves we saw at the Discovery Center looked like very large grey or white dogs. It wasn’t until we watched a movie of a pack of nine wolves pulling down a big elk that we realized how powerful and crafty wolves are. They will even engage a small grizzly, usually in a fight over an elk carcass, but most experts give the edge to the bear in those battles.

Two days of rain made the roads, well, interesting. A small pond formed on the Forest Service road into our campground. This VW bug was lucky to make it safely through; what you can’t see are the 12 inch deep potholes. Cuts to USFS road repair funding didn’t help matters. (I’ll bet the road repair budget at Andrews Air Force Base, where our Golfer-in-Chief plays three times a week, hasn’t been cut…)

We were able to get out onto Hebgen Lake near our campsite on one fine day. The view was stunning. Kayak Chick paddled and took photos while I fished…

This fisherman has a smile on his face, but alas, no fish in his cooler, undoubtedly due to the previous week’s heavy rains and the frigid 32-35 degree nightly temperatures. All the fish have gone to Florida where it’s warmer… the heavy weeds choking this lake didn’t help… is that enough of a list of excuses? At least he had a Backup Plan B – chicken enchiladas!

Our campground had lots of squirrels, which likely attracted this lovely four-legged vixen which gave us a fun and unexpected wildlife moment.  (Ken, this one’s for you!)

The forest here in Yellowstone is varied, but this photo shows a common growth of yellow pines with lots of light filtering between the trees, allowing much better visibility than we typically get in Florida or along the East Coast, where the undergrowth tends to be much thicker.

Finally, our little Dachshund Rudy is in big trouble. He is such a lazy butt. Here he is sleeping in – on MY pillow – yesterday morning. He thinks he’s cute with this “dog in the headlights” look, but I’m not cutting him any slack. If I have to be up in 32 degree weather, then he does, too.

1 Comment

  • Anonymous
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Never met a grizzly in the wild and don't want to.
    A decent portion of our budgets are used to fight forest fires this time of year. Congress passed a law to have separate funding for this but unfortunately have never fully funded it! Go figure…


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