Wednesday, May 29: Lotsa Work, Lotsa Rain, Lotsa Bears!

After signing in with our employer on Tuesday the 21st we visited the marina to meet the new manager and get our preseason work schedules (the season begins June 15th). Preseason involves training and getting the marina prepped. We work shorter days and more of them in preseason. After helping prep for the winter at the end of last season I shouldn’t have been surprised at the amount of heavy work in getting set up, but I was. I’m the only returnee from last season with front counter experience so I also helped out with their training.

Each day we received at least some precipitation, plenty of wind, and plenty of cold. Getting the RV settled took the better part of the week and the weather made working outside a challenge.

Today and yesterday were our first days off since we got here. The weather (we awoke to a half inch of snow on the ground) made hiking a non-consideration but we loaded up the truck and went for a drive. This morning was amazing on a number of levels. Halfway between here and the marina we encountered a jammed up parking area, which typically indicates wildlife OTHER than a bison. We were able to squeeze in and, sure enough, there was a young bear lounging near a fallen tree, enjoying the rainy 39 degree day. Mary Ann took a few pictures and as we prepared to leave I saw a tourist do something amazingly stupid (perhaps someday I’ll stop being amazed): a van stopped in the middle of the road, the driver put the transmission in in Park, and, with camera in hand, he GOT OUT OF THE VAN AND WALKED OVER TO JOIN THE CROWD. Absolutely incredible!

Next we headed north toward the Canyon area. Just north of the mudpots we encountered another jammed parking area. Across the road and up the hill a young bear was munching away happily on an elk calf he’d recently killed. Mary Ann got a few photos before the bear headed off further up the hill.

We’d heard of a grizzly at Mary Bay so we made that our next destination. Enroute we spotted a female elk crossing the river. Mary Ann got a BUNCH of photos and lamented it could be the mother of the calf the bear had been eating.

small elk

There was no parking area at Mary Bay where the grizzly was hanging out. About 20 cars were pulled off the shoulder of the road so the lactation was easy to find. The bear was barely a hundred feet away, just enjoying the morning and an occasional scratch. With every move the bear made the air was filled with the sound of camera shutters. Eventually, tired of all the attention, he got up and began ambling toward the crowd. We all scattered, as much because of the commands bellowed by the supervising park ranger as the danger the bear presented, as the bear crossed the road and up the hill out of sight.

small bear

THIS is why we wanted to get here early.

Note to Mother Nature: keep it coming

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