July 24, 2013
I live a day’s drive away from Yellowstone National Park. That’s where I was last week (along with a jaunt into Tetons National Park.) One of the busiest of the national parks, Yellowstone also paradoxically contains some of the most remote, untouched wilderness in the continental U.S. (A guide told us that 97% of the park’s visitors never venture more than 100 yards from the main roads, which is how Yellowstone can be both swamped with people and utterly pristine, depending on where you are.)
This was a research and writing trip. I didn’t get as much work done as I wanted, mostly because I hiked and touristed myself into exhaustion every single day I was there. But I soaked up a ton of information, atmosphere, impressions, and ideas. Filled about ten+ pages of notebook paper and took a few hundred pictures.
And saw so many critters. My list: 2 grizzly bears, 3 black bears, 4 mule deer, countless elk (including a big bull who trekked to the roadside every morning), countless bison, two moose, several pronghorn antelope, a coyote, two river otters, an osprey nest, a hawk nest (Northern Harrier, I think), and about 20+ other species of birds that I could positively ID. It’s the time of year when they all have babies, too. Super cute! One day I woke up stinking early in the morning to try to see wolves — there’s a spot in the Hayden Valley where one of the packs gathers almost every morning, within sight of one of the parking lots. Alas, I missed them that morning. But I strongly considered handing out business cards to the dozen or so groupies who were there with their spotting scopes. I did not.
I was so inspired. I want to go fishing, which I haven’t done in almost twenty years. I want to do more hiking. I want to learn to kayak so I can go into the part of Lake Yellowstone where motorboats aren’t allowed. I got an annual parks pass so that I’ll be motivated to get into Rocky Mountain National Park more often. You know, in my copious spare time. I spent the whole drive home frustrated at the millions of things I want to do, wondering how I will fit them all in. My 2014 calendar is already booked up with conventions and things.
But Yellowstone is only a day’s drive away…