trip report day 3 part 2

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    Posted by michael in tucson ( on July 08, 2005 at 18:24:23:

    In Reply to: trip report day 3 part 1 posted by michael in tucson on July 08, 2005 at 18:22:24:

    They are up but Hayden is still in pajamas. We grab him some warm clothes and boots and head back. He is excited, he hasn’t seen a moose yet. We see a cow moose right near the road before we get to Warm Creek and the bull is still eating at Warm Creek. Karlie takes a couple of pics while we just sit and watch him eat. Hayden asks some questions about moose. What do they eat? Why are they so big? Why does it have the horns? What eats a moose? He gets a pen from Karlie and circles the moose on the animal checklist. We go back to the cabin get Hayden changed and head to the Grizzly Pad in Cooke City for breakfast. Hayden likes Cooke City and is quick to point out any type of truck or construction vehicle. He likes seeing the animals but you can’t beat a backhoe loader.

    We stop off at the cabin and then decide to head to Tower. We stop to look for goats at Barronette but none in sight. There is a big bull moose just east of Ice Box Canyon. Unfortunately he is below the road surface and hard for Hayden to see, and there is no good place to pull over. There are still a lot of deer out eating near the road as we continue west. There are several vehicles pulled over near the confluence. I scan with the binoculars and pick up a golden eagle trying to keep the ravens away as he wrestles with some type of carcass. In talking to a highly animated women, I find out that we have just missed a big bison drama. A cow bison with a calf tried to cross the Lamar at the confluence and the calf was swept away and unable to get out. The calf was bawling at the mother and she was bawling at the calf. The woman told me that her husband was considering helping the calf, but it finally reached a shallow point and was able to get out. Yikes! What would have happened if the guy actually got the calf out? There are a lot of bison in the Lamar and we stop west of the Institute to watch a herd of about thirty. We get out and sit on some rocks and listen to Hayden talk about the bison. After we are sitting for awhile the ground squirrels begin to appear and Hayden laughs at them. He is so thrilled each time he spots another one and then he’s laughing again. All of this and the sun even breaks through. The Lamar Valley, blue skies, warming sun, frolicking bison, squirrel antics and a laughing child, it could not get much better. Near Fisherman’s a coyote comes out of nowhere and crosses in front of us. It never even looks at us as it heads up the hill on the north side.

    No bears on the drive up to Tower, but Hayden is ready to see a waterfalls. On the walk to the overlook, we meet Albee from the chat page. He somehow deduces who we are and introduces himself. We talk a bit and then show Hayden the falls. He likes it a lot and is reluctant to leave but the pull of ice cream at the Tower store does it. Albee is also there and he makes sure we meet Helene and Rene. I am not much on making sure I meet Loons but these guys might convince me to work harder at it. We sit down outside to eat ice cream and Hayden watches a ground squirrel looking for handouts. At one point the squirrel runs over my foot. Hayden lets me know what has happened, with that note of wonder in his voice. The squirrel gets no handouts so heads for the garbage looking for something that didn’t make the can. When the squirrel heads toward the parking lot trash cans, guess where we go. At one point Hayden watches the squirrel go into a “doghouse” (actually the firehose box), but close enough. we are allowed to leave when the squirrel makes its exit.

    Hayden is asleep before we reach Tower Junction. We decide to drive to Mammoth and eat an early dinner at the Mammoth Grill. Hayden will get to nap and we get to drive through Yellowstone. At Elk Creek there is a big bear jam. We get a good look at a black bear sow and two cubs as we have to stop to let a car past from the other direction, but there is nowhere to park and really look. I drive up the hill and find a spot to park. Only one of us can go back since Hayden is asleep. Karlie says to go for it. I grab the binocs and walk back down the hill. There are four black bears in sight. The beautiful black phase sow, with the two equally beautiful year old cinnamon cubs has the undivided attention of most of the crowd. There is a fourth black phase bear further from the road meandering through the downed trees. I watch the fourth bear until it goes out of sight, spend a little more time watching the others and head back to the car.

    Hayden is still asleep when we reach Mammoth. We park at Albright and I stay in the car with him. Karlie goes inside to renew our Yellowstone Association membership and do some necessary shopping. When she returns Hayden is just stirring. She has gotten him a great stuffed animal bison as a perk of membership and he is thrilled with it. The two of them will be inseparable the rest of our Yellowstone trip. We realize that we are all hungry and head for the Grill. Hayden likes this place, obviously a good reason to eat here. He likes to get a window seat where he can watch, what else trucks. It is relaxing and at this time of the year not crowded. Hayden gets a Tootsie Roll Pop in his kid meal. He is too young to eat it by himself, so I hold it while he licks. He can’t wait until he is old enough to eat it all by himself.

    On the way back the black bear sow and two cinnamon cubs are still along Elk Creek. Karlie and Hayden get out to watch while I park the car. We all sit by the side of the road and watch the bears. Hayden takes the perspective of the bear and says, “Why are all of these people looking at me?” There are a lot of pronghorn visible in Little America. We stop at Slough where four pups and the gray babysitter are visible. Karlie gets a turn to watch wolves while Hayden and I take a little walk down to Slough Creek. On the walk down and back we have a marvelous conversation about the size and shape of bison plops. We see more pronghorn in the Lamar as we head east and Hayden gets a great close up look at a mature buck. West of Soda Butte the really big bison bulls are up and strutting their stuff, which necessitates several stops as they park their bodies in the road and munch the vegetation on the shoulder. We stop at the coyote den and watch the pups. There are still five pups and they are entertaining a crowd this evening. There is again a big bull moose just east of Ice Box Canyon. Very likely the same one from earlier today, but this time Hayden gets to see him. As usual there are many deer and elk in the openings alongside the road as we continue back to Silver Gate. We are in bed by 10 PM and asleep soon after. All three of us are heading into the park in the AM.

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