Tuesday, August 10, 2010
"Along with black bears over 500 grizzlies live in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem."
Hearing of the grizzly attacks just days before my arrival in Yellowstone generated a bit of what Brian coined my "bear paranoia". I'd like to clarify that I don't harbor a blanket fear of bears, but, admittedly, an encounter with a grizzly in my campsite is a scenario I'll do most anything to avoid. Brian totes a can of bear spray in his hip-holster at all times; this is good. However, the notion of there being only a thin layer of nylon separating me from whatever lurks outside was far from comforting. I found I was quite capable of relaxing as long as we were sitting beside the campfire, talking, and shining flashlights on anything that moved...A perceived sense of control. For a moment, I almost forgot about grizzlies; it felt just like camping anywhere. Then bedtime arrived. We changed into our sleeping clothes, the ones without any scents from the day, stored everything safely in the car and tiptoed into the tent. Once inside, everything fell silent. That is, everything but the sound of blood pumping through my body. For the first time, it seemed I could hear each blood cell travel its way from the tips of my toes to the depths of my eardrums. My "bear paranoia" was clearly kicking up to a new level. It was like I instantly developed bionic auditory senses. Not only could I hear every organ in my body hard at work, but each leaf wriggling in the breeze became a threat. Coupled with the fact that I couldn't see beyond the tent walls, panic ensued. Brian and Flynn were fast asleep. I continued to "keep watch" and fell in and out of sleep throughout the night.
When morning came, the campground buzzed with talk of the grizzly who paid us all a visit in the early hours of daylight. I slept through it.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Unprepared for yet another afternoon downpour, I sought shelter pressed against the wall of a Jackson tourist shop. A kind old couple stood next to me and we quickly struck up conversation. Naturally, the discussion began with topics such as the speed with which weather changes out here, where we call home and how obviously unprepared I was in my tank top and flip flops. Recognizing opportunity for warmth, I squeezed in a bit closer as the wife sandwiched her husband to his left. We laughed about his luck with two lovely ladies flanking his sides, then he gave me advice I will never forget..."You should always be sure to carry a down jacket and a candy bar out here...You never know when you're gonna need either one." I thanked him for his words of wisdom and within moments the rains calmed. We wished each other safe travels and I puddle-jumped my way back to the car before the next wave hit.
Monday, August 2, 2010
First and foremost, I'd like to say that Brian is in his element out here! From all that I've learned about the data collection he's doing, it's grueling work; I admire his passion and dedication.
Above is the "Ritz Carlton" of Yellowstone. Relative to camping in the wild, that's exactly how it feels. Protection from the elements, hot showers and internet make for a relaxing break for Brian and his team between bouts in the wilderness.
Saturday night, we camped at Lizard Creek Campground in Grand Teton National Park. A short stroll to Jackson Lake provided Flynn refreshing relief from the hot-box which has become his home in the back of the car. After setting up camp, we went off to explore the park witnessing multiple black bears munching on berries, beautiful views of the Tetons and a rare sighting of a student I taught in first grade 5 years ago! Then...the rains came.
Unknowingly, we sealed our fate by loading all the sleeping gear inside the tent before we left to explore for the day...no rain fly. One thing I now understand; always be prepared for massive afternoon rain showers out here. It soon became apparent this storm wasn't letting up so, on the way back to camp, we fled straight for the nearest general store. Together we figured this was nothing a good tarp and rope couldn't solve. On the contrary, we found our tent flooded and the sleeping bags, pads and pillows previously placed inside floating in a pool of water. Quickly, we reviewed our options and decided to go with innovation. In attempt to salvage our camping experience, we loaded all the gear into the car and cooked the heater for a good hour and a half. Next, we poured out the tent and placed it strategically on top of Cecilia whose moon roof successfully debuted as a convection heater! All in all, we feel proud to have made lemonade out of lemons that day!!
Strikingly similar to the photo we have from rainy Monteverde, Brian and I capture the light and hope in our faces at the prospect of salvaging what otherwise would've been grounds for heading to the nearest hotel. That's just the thing though...there wasn't a nearest hotel.
I am thankful Brian has found something he loves to do and am grateful for the time we got to spend exploring together! I'm also thankful for the people who had the foresight to create Yellowstone National Park to begin with...
- 2,219,789 acres (Larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined)