Our next excursion after the Society of Animal Artists weekend completed was a drive up to Yellowstone National Park. ¬†The drive through southern Wyoming was rather boring. ¬†That is shale oil country and even the sage (which grows in very poor soil) was having a hard time growing. ¬†It was black with only a small amount of green showing in the tips of the leaves. ¬†Saw no liven g animals for miles. ¬†Once we reached the open prairie, there were cooling winds that rippled the tall grasses like long sinuous waves. ¬†There is heavy use of windmill farms here as the wind is constant. ¬†There are also long lines of snow fences to protect the highway from drifting winter snow (which comes early and stays long) as much as possible. ¬†We spent the night in Dubois, WY and as it turned out that was as close to Yellowstone National Park as we could find a room without spending $300 to $500 a night. ¬†We did not have a reservation and there were many people having a last vacation before the summer ended. ¬†The first day we spent quite a bit of time in the Teton area. ¬†The range of uplifted mountains are impressive. ¬†We made it up to Grant Village in Yellowstone and I had a buffalo burger for lunch. ¬†For you who don’t know it, it tastes like beef but has to be ground as it is tough and lean, so either has to have a long cooking time or ground. ¬†Just south of Alum Creek alongside Yellowstone River in the Hayden Valley we came across one of the Bison herds. ¬†The males were in rut so some of them were putting on a show, strutting around the females. ¬†They are even more dangerous this time of year than normal. ¬†There were mothers with calves, calves cavorting, males rolling in the dust and chasing females. ¬†As they poured down the hill, I thought it wise to move to the far side of the car and watched them pass by our car. ¬†They always pause and make the traffic stop as they cross the road. ¬†I photographed big males against the sky on a ridge and with the Yellowstone River behind them. ¬†We got as far as the Grand Canon of Yellowstone and the waterfall. ¬†It started raining a cold rain in earnest and I had to leave. ¬† There was the possibility of snow that night predicted the weatherman. ¬†Just north of the road to Grant Village we came across three Elk. ¬†Ira photographed them with the 400 mm lens while I photographed a cute chipmunk pulling grass seed heads down to eat. ¬†By the time we reached Lewis Falls it was getting even chillier and had stopped raining so I got more photographs without as many people around as earlier in the day. ¬†We had dinner at the Jackson Lake Lodge in the Grand Teton National Park. ¬†We got there just in time for a spectacular sunset display. ¬†With the clouds swirling around the Grand Teton and Mount Moran it looked like they were on fire.
The second day into Yellowstone we came across a lone bull bison in the Nez Pierce Creek area. ¬†I took photographs of him in an open field and as he crossed the road and walked among some trees. ¬†I had Ira take a photo of me with him in the back ground before I scurried a safer distance from him. ¬†They look placid but can turn violent quickly. ¬†Ira’s knee became so painful at that point we had to go into West Yellowstone to a clinic. ¬†The nurse there advised him to go to the hospital in Jackson, WY, the closest one three and one half hours away. ¬†So I drove the car which I have only driven once before. ¬†The Garmin took me down the backside of the Grand Tetons on the Idaho back roads at high speed with many road construction areas. ¬†I will say the farmland was beautiful and green. ¬†Just before Jackson there is a mountain to cross with a 10% grade on a very twisty road. ¬†Ira controlled the downshifting while I concentrated on the curves and keeping from running into the truck in front of us until he pulled over to let me pass. ¬†Needless to say I was white knuckled and shaky by the time I reached town. ¬†Then had to drive through the town full of tourists. ¬†After tests at the hospital the Doctor said there were no broken bones of blood clots. ¬†That was the good news but the bad news was Ira needed to go home. ¬†Unfortunately home was 3,000 miles away. ¬†So, the good times have come to an end and we just made a beeline home, even so it has taken six days of hard traveling.
Observations I have made: ¬†We have a wonderful, beautiful and varied country filled with kind people. ¬†In every city the TV news is filled with evil but the average citizen is helpful and friendly, you only have to smile at them. ¬†After driving seventy miles per hour over unfamiliar roads I have a greater appreciation for the big rigs on the highway and the difficulties they face when the weather turns nasty. ¬†I also have a greater awareness of the difficulties people face who use a cane, crutches, or wheelchair after Ira had to use a cane then crutches as the pain in his knee worsened. And, no matter how much I tell myself I am not going to spend extra money, I still had to buy some souvenirs. ¬†This time something for the Grandkids and some western wear for me and, as I really needed it, a few pieces of jewelry. ¬†Oh well, I had fun shopping, meeting new people, and observing animals. ¬†A trip to treasure.
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