Travel journal USA, Canada & Alaska 2005
by Claudia and PJ Potgieser
where are we?
back to travel journals USA
We are going to South America!!!!
We have found a shipping agent
in Baltimore, Maryland, who can ship our camper to Chile. We have only
heard this a couple of weeks ago and July 19th we have
delivered our truck and camper in the port and flew home for 4 weeks.
Journal Yellowstone (May 19 – June 23, 2005)
We arrive in Yellowstone
National Park on May 19th. We go straight to the
Fishing Bridge area were we have seen at least 12 different grizzly
bears last year. We see deer, elk, bison and coyote, but no bears. And
some familiar faces from last year. Like Lyn, a 41 year old very
talented painter, who gets her inspiration from Yellowstone. Together
looking for bears is always more fun than alone, but also with the help
of Lyn, we can’t find bears. Lake Yellowstone is thawing slowly and the
drifting ice makes good picture taking.
As always we spent the nights
outside the park. Mostly in the morning we are so early that there is no
ranger at the gate. After a morning of sleeping in, we pass the gate at
7 without stopping and without seeing that there is a ranger at this
time. Only minutes later we hear on the scanner:
Our next project are river
otters. According to others the otters are hanging around Trout Lake,
a lake that can be reached by climbing a steep trail of only a mile. But
with the warm winter clothes we are wearing and the heavy camera gear,
this is a strenuous hike. Three mornings we are waiting in vain for the
cute animals to show up. Surrounded by snow capped mountains, green
hills, enormous fir trees, this beautiful lake and good company (Bob and
SueAnn) it is a nice place to hang out. But no otters.
We just focus on two beavers, who are nibbling at the base of a tree, right next to the road. When they cross the road, we can see their funny tail too.
And than the bears. The black
bears in the Tower area are less hard to find than the grizzlies.
We see a black bear with two cinnamon second year cubs. We recognize
them from last year and we are glad that the whole family has survived
The weather is changing constantly. At night it freezes a couple degrees and during daytime hail and rain storms interchanges sunny temperatures. We keep getting in and out of our summer and winter clothes.
May is the period of the new
born animals. Elk, bison, moose and deer calves are being born and look
so cute. But the adults are loosing their winter coats and don’t look
nice at all. Especially the bison is loosing whole patches of fur on
trees and poles.
With Bob and SueAnn we drive the
180 km (110 miles) back to Fishing Bridge to look for grizzly
bears again, but we just can’t find them. On the scanner we hear that at
Gibbon Falls there is a grizzly bear on a carcass, only ten yards
from the road. But that is 70 km (43 miles) from here! We are in doubt
if it is worth the drive. With the speed limit it will take us at least
an hour to get there. After two hours the bear is still there and we
decide to go for it. Arriving at the spot we see about ten parked cars,
nobody is allowed to walk around and the ranger is trying to let
everybody drive on. Fortunately a car leaves and we can just squeeze in.
From our view point we can just see the head of the bear between the
trees. No wonder nobody stops; if you are not parked in front, you don’t
see a thing. According to a tourist next to us the grizzly is sleeping
on a bison carcass. A day later we will find out that this exaggerated.
A bald eagle is swooping low over the water. He tries to grasp an adult duck out of the pond! The duck ducks under the water just in time every time the eagle flies over. On the shore a dozen Canada geese are screaming over the top of their lungs. Are they cheering the eagle or trying to warn their own species? After half a dozen tries the eagle gives up.
One early morning I make pictures of a baby elk. It has just been born and wobbles behind her mum on unstable legs. Every time when the cow stops, it tries to drink. Half an hour later I find out that I had forgotten to put a card in the camera -the modern version of forgetting to put a roll in your camera-. Of course I am thinking that these pictures were the best ever...
We run some errands in West-Yellowstone town, but when we return into the park we got stuck in a traffic jam. On the scanner we hear that a herd of bison are using the road to ‘migrate’. One and a half hour later we can see the bison butts and another half hour before we can pass them. We have driven only 2 miles. That is something else than being in a traffic jam for going to work...
Have you seen the movie
‘Twister’? There you can see a bunch of different people in different
vehicles chasing hurricanes. This is how we feel sometimes. Only we are
not chasing twisters but bears. We do this with four other people. Lyn,
the talented painter, you already know. Diana does volunteer work at an
animal shelter and adopts animals at a regular base. This is why she
travels around with 4 cats and a dog in her van and is nicknamed cat
lady by us. John is trying to make a living as a film operator and Joe
is a fire fighter in Las Vegas and comes here every spare moment.
Back in the black bear area we
see ´Rosie with the red rubies´ again. She has now chased her cub
away, but is not on her own. A good looking black boar is following her
around. He is itchy and keeps rubbing his back on every tree he sees.
When Rosie decides to take a nap in the shade of a tree he joins her.
They are a good looking couple. Only a week ago she was still nursing
her baby and now she already has a boyfriend.
A couple of days later we see Rosie again, alone this time. But we are shocked when we take a closer look; her thighs are bare of hair! Stalker must have worn her out totally! The same day we also see Rosie’s cub again. He is grazing and is unaware that his mum is so close by. He seems to have adapt to the new situation.
Don’t get the impression that we recognize every bear in Yellowstone. For example PJ and I cannot agree if there are two or three cinnamon adult black bears in this area. We wonder what has happened to the cinnamon twin cubs, but unfortunately we never see them again.
When we drive through the Hayden
Valley, I see a lot of ravens at one spot. An investigation shows the
thigh of an adult elk, still with some fresh meat on it. We decide to
park next to it (on the road of course), it is close to road and the
bear or wolf who did this will probably come back for it. It is 3 in the
afternoon, 20 degrees Celsius (68 F) and the sun is shining merciless.
We probably won’t see much wildlife the first couple of hours.
John the cineast arrives a couple of hours late and together with PJ he walks the hills searching for the rest of the carcass. They can’t find it. Isn’t that weird, a leg and a stomach, both close to the road, but no carcass?
After more than a month we decide to leave the park. We have seen a lot of new animals and situations and have made great pictures. We have seen 17 different grizzly bears and 12 different black bears (hard to tell the difference with black bears). We have missed a mountain lion sitting on a cliff for literally hours watching the tourists and the eruption of Steamboat geyser (we were in the park for both occasions, but at the wrong place), but we are very happy with what we have seen this season. Knowing that we will probably won’t come back here, made it difficult to leave. But we will start a new adventure in South America and that is also very exciting.