Back online

Testing, testing, is this thing on?  “My fellow Americans. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve signed legislation outlawing the Soviet Union. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Er, wait, sorry – wrong decade.

Sorry for the lack of posting for the past few weeks.  K and I were out in Yellowstone and just got back last night (or was it this morning?).  The advantage of Yellowstone is no news.  No television, no computer, no phone.  I suppose there was a newspaper, but we didn’t read it.  So what’s been going on while we’ve been away?  Has Clinton conceded yet?  Have gas prices dropped yet?  Is it still fashionable to conserve water in North Carolina?  I guess I already know the answer about Clinton and gasoline.  Since we’re on a well, I think water conservation is going to be a way of life for now on, so that doesn’t matter either.

Quick recap of the trip, more later:

Saturday night, we made it into Bozeman.  The rental car company had given away our midsized care and wanted to put us in a mini-van.  Lovely.  After pitching a small fit, they told me to come back in the morning.  We did that and they gave us a Prius – score!  We wound up driving about 1300 miles over two weeks and the Prius must have saved us ~$200 over the car we had last year and maybe $300 over the mini-van.  BTW – a Prius in the mountains is like a Prius in the city, but instead of stopping and starting you go up and down mountains.  We were averaging over 57 mpg.

It was cold in Yellowstone.  Really cold.  The first few days we were there it snowed 15″.  In fact, it had snowed so much recently that the cabin owners had to put us in a different cabin since the first was flooded (we’re not certain if the cabin flooded or the sceptic system, either way, those cabins didn’t open by the time we left – two weeks later).

The cold altered the timing of a lot of the animals in the park.  Raptors (hawks, eagles and owls) were several weeks late in building their nests.  There were more wolves and bears lower in the Lamar valley.  The advantage of going to the same place at the same time of year is that you get a sense of that place.  You know what’s normal, what’s abnormal.  What belongs and what has changed.  It lets us spot wildlife more quickly than the casual tourist, and in this case it helped us to know that this was an unusual year.  Of course, K says that the reason you go back year over year is that it gets into your soul.  I’m not too inclined to be metaphysical so you have my understanding of the advantages described above. If we are going to be metaphysical about it, I would say that the place does not get into your soul, instead, you leave a piece of your soul in the place and the only way to feel whole again is to go back to the place and find the missing part of your soul.

The first Thursday was our aniversary – 15 years if you can believe it.  We couldn’t go out to dinner because none of the area restaurants were open for the season yet.  Instead, we went out Friday which was the start of Memorial Day weekend and the official opening of the summer (did I mention it snowed/hailed almost every day we were there?) Yellowstone season.

We didn’t do too many hikes because of the weather.  We did our first on that first Friday.  When we got back to the cabin, it was empty with a note on the door saying that they had moved us to (yet another) cabin.  Excuse me?  I was really not happy with being moved, but you make the best of things.  The new cabin was quieter and by the river.  Unfortunately, it was also smaller, colder and less comfortable.

We continued with the occasional hiking and wildlife viewing (finally seeing and photographing the otter at Trout Lake).  Saturday my Sony Reader stopped working.  That hurt since I had only brought one other book and while the “Notes on the Constitutional Convention” by Madison is interesting, it’s a bit rough as your only book for week.  So we bought some books at Tower Falls and Mammoth – what can I say, I read a lot.  As an addendum on the Reader issue, Borders book store (where I bought the reader) was great.  I called ’em this afternoon and they said that they were happy to replace the Reader so long as I had the receipt.  That just made my day – I can’t tell you how used to the Reader I’ve gotten in just the past month (minus the week it was broken).

The next week we goofed off for a bit.  Thursday we went to look at a different cabin rented by some friends of ours in Cooke City (three miles up the road).  Their cabin was gorgeous.  They’ve just added a kitchen which makes it perfect.  We’ll probably be reserving a spot next year.  We also visited Dan who has been having a bit of a hard time this spring.  All of the birds he wanted to photograph are either late or gone.  He invited us on a hike to try to find a great grey owl in the area.  We met at 5pm, drove to the site and must have hiked for two hours off trail through some beautiful meadows without seeing any more than pellets, whitewash and a single great grey feather – stupid bird.  It was still a good time.

Friday we watched the wolves for a bit (they had made two kills the night before with a grizzley taking one).  We watched the few birds we knew of, including nesting sand-hill cranes, bald eagles and an osprey nest.

Saturday, we took off for home, spent about 14 hours traveling, finally making it in an hour late.  These days, I would call that a win.

I’ll post some pictures later, but that was the trip in a nutshell.  Now to readjust to the “real” world.

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