Sunday, June 14: Summer of Discontent

Wednesday, June 3, the day after the “big snowfall” we took a ride over to Old Faithful with our former neighbors, Jim and Betty. Old Faithful, on the west side of the park, is normally about a 1 hour drive. But that route was closed for construction so we took the longer route with a 1.5 hour drive.  Once the season gets under way the west side of the park gets crowded and most of us stay away so the early season is the time we get to visit.

Swan

Swan

On the return trip Mary Ann spotted a jam. Since that can only mean one thing (exciting wild game!) we pulled over. Please raise your hand if you would stop your car for a chance to view wild game. Now keep your hand up if you consider swans wild game. Mary Ann and Betty took lots of pictures.

Sunset is one of the best times to view wildlife and Hayden Valley, about 20 minutes from home, is prime viewing real estate. A few nights after Old Faithful we made the trip, this time with Richard (my boat partner) and his wife, Susan. Hayden Valley is loaded with bison so it’s very common to find people stopped on and off the road to snap that perfect selfie with one of these impressive (and potentially dangerous) beasts. We have around 4500 bison in the park so if you don’t see one around the bend there’ll be one around the next bend. Wolves, elk, bears, foxes, and Canada geese are less commonly spotted here, but often a keen eye is often rewarded. By “keen eye” I mean look for the jams.

Elk Chasing Wolves

Elk Chasing Wolves

Wolves Chasing Elk

Wolves Chasing Elk

We pulled off for one promising looking jam and were richly rewarded. A few hundred yards from the road a pair of wolves was squaring off with a pair of female elk. This was a wildlife photographer’s dream! Particularly a wildlife photographer with a big lens. The elk were protecting their calves and the action was nonstop and fascinating to watch. At times the wolves were chasing the elk and other times the elk were actually chasing the wolves. After about half an hour the wolves figured they needed reinforcements so they sat down and began howling. Soon it was too dark to see so we had to head back without catching the finale.

Folks who’ve worked at the marina for many years are calling this the strangest summer they’ve seen. The National Park Service has determined that, after 21 years, our tour boat needs to be Coast Guard certified. The wiring was completely replaced this winter and some safety enhancements were implemented. But with opening day just hours away we are still awaiting the nod to begin running tours. We’re hoping to be operational by the 22nd.

Several of our fishing boats were replaced with brand new versions of the same model but we’re experiencing an assortment of challenges, some related to our extreme elevation, getting them operational. Their season will begin on time but it will likely be a few more days before the fleet is fully online.

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