Captain’s Log-10 June 2011-The Long Month & Yellowstone

A lone Bison bull in beautiful surroundings that we looked upon with great joy.

Hey, it has been a long time since I wrote but much has happened and I guess I will just catch you up.  We flew to the US the middle of last month and probably the most remarkable thing about the trip was flying over the North Pole area and seeing the vast expanse of snow as far as you can see from 38,000 feet.  It was stunning in magnitude and harshness.  I would have hated to have to walk out of there if we went down!

We got to Oregon without incident and had a great reunion with family.  My brother and his wife were here from the Philippines and even Lu will be here tonight fresh from Virunga in the Congo, so the whole family will be together.  Should be great fun!

Cher and I went off to our MAF headquarters in Idaho to get medicals and psych tests to see if we are crazy from years in Africa.  They are letting us go back anyway!  We saw many of our great friends from all over the world there and it was a pleasure indeed.

Lower Grand Canyon Falls in Yellowstone was a stunning sight

I have always wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and we were about as close as we have ever been so we decided to go.  It was the first National Park ever and is truly a spectacular place.  There is great wildlife but also amazing scenery and with all the volcanic activity it is a breathtaking place to go.

I walked along side of this bison buffalo taking pictures for quite a while in the snow.

We stayed the first night in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with its cowboy bars and huge arches of elk antlers and then drove up through the Grand Tetons the next morning with snow covering the mountains and clouds partially covering the peaks, but it was still spectacular.  We saw a female moose and upon closer inspection found it had a new baby, which delighted us both and which we watched for a while.  Driving in falling snow with high drifts piled up beside the road was a wonderful treat after years in Africa.

The Old Faithful Inn- over 100 years old with a 1930’s vintage White touring vehicle out front as snow falls.

I am notorious for not making reservations and just “making a plan” when we get there. I got up early in the morning to watch Old Faithful go off and I was one of 4 people there.

In our room Number 1, warm and cozy as it snowed outside

That was great for me and one of the best things about staying there overnight.  Because of its’ international tourist status, there are more people than I am every used to seeing in wildlife/outdoor areas and it took me a bit of time to accept that.  Being out early before the crowds and walking among geysers and boiling cauldrons of sulfuric water or mud was remarkable.  Walking back by wildlife didn’t hurt the atmosphere either.

Inside the wonderful old inn was warm and inviting. We loved our time there.

The next morning we were driving in along snow capped mountains along the …..river when a traffic jam formed.  We had just read in our devotions about being prepared for the delays in life where God has opportunities to get our attention but I was still my impatient self.  As we got up to the “problem” we saw it was a herd of buffalo moseying down the center of the road.  As it was our turn to go by them we were so close that Cher said, “I am going to touch them” but there were so many people around she didn’t.  It would not have been a stretch!  We drove on and pulled off at the next turnout, thanking God for the lovely encounter.  We got out to see a lone bison bull in the center of the vlei in a beautiful setting.  I walked over the edge to soak in the scene and found fresh bear tracks.  Following them backwards for a bit I also found a nice mountain lion spoor.  Now it was feeling more like my African style of game experience!

Some of the bison come toward me before dividing and to my pleasure, leaving me surrounded.

As I followed back on the bear spoor I looked up and there was a fairly new kill of a 2 year old bison. Maybe a couple of days.  Still no maggots or vulture around and not too smelly.  Of course it was cool out.   I walked back toward Cher and told her what I had found but noticed that the bison from the traffic jam were coming down the road to our position.

buffalo pass close. Many withing touching distance.

It was a great picture with all the cars so I went up to the road and got in a place where I would be able to get the buffalo and the cars together and waited.  I got behind a little 10 inch diameter pine tree thinking I could climb it if things got crazy.

Bison continue to pass by me only feet away.

As they came closer they turned into the turnout and right toward me, passing not a foot from where I stood.  The group split and some came around the other side of the tree as well and I was literally right in the herd in touching distance on all sides.  It was wonderful.  Quite an adrenaline rush.  They walked past and right on to where Cher was standing in the doorway of the car.  It was a great experience and we were very happy for the delay God had sent our way to get our attention.

More bison pass Cher in the car- a wonderful sight.

The mix of sunshine and snow was wonderful and we were amazed at the largeness of the landscape.  I kept commenting to Cher that we were born a couple hundred years too late.  Wouldn’t it have been amazing to ride in here on a horse!

Bison herd relaxing in the sun. It is the season for babies.  It was a pleasure to be so close.

We have enjoyed the gracious hosting of many wonderful friends during the past month and thank each of you all for that.   It continually amazes me the long reaching effect generosity has.  It is a contagious thing.  I guess greed is as well.  I guess we have a choice as to which way we want to go with our time and our stuff.  In our experience we have always been on the receiving end with life long friends we have made and the interesting encounters we have had from guests sent our way.  Come to think of it, many of these people who we are so blessed by now have been a part of our home at some time or another.  It is a great way for friendship to start.

Bison taking a dust bath as the the cold season ends and they start to shed long winter hair.

Shedding winter hair as summer days begin in Yellowstone.

We were very close to bison on many occasions but never so close as being right in between the herd

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4 Responses to Captain’s Log-10 June 2011-The Long Month & Yellowstone

  1. Krista says:

    Ah, my favorite place on earth! I spent 2 summers working in the Canyon area and trekking all over the park. LOVE!
    But you are seriously crazy to let the bison walk all around you! They are so unpredictable!

    • jcadd says:

      Hi Krista,
      Yeah, I realized it was crazy at the time. But it happened fast and I wasn’t in a position to get out. It is not the first time I have been accused of being crazy! Thanks for sharing.
      Jon

  2. David gilmer says:

    Hey Guys,
    Once again, a wonderful post. It’s always a pleasure to read your writing and to find out what adventures your having. I’m back in the states too, and just passed my requal training to fly for Alaska again. I start flying the line again this week. I miss Africa of course, and hope to return soon…but look forward to flying here just the same.
    All the best.
    Dave Gilmer (Airserv Dungu)

    • jcadd says:

      Hey Dave,
      Great to hear you are flying Alaskan skies. I would love to do a season on floats up there sometime. Quite a bit different than Dungu. I would have to get a nice jacket! Thanks for writing. Jon

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