Christmas in June

June 13, 2001

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123-2317.jpg (120507 bytes)123-2319.jpg (106614 bytes)Ladies and gentlemen, imagine you go to tent in a very full campground, tug yourself into the sleeping bag, and next thing you know you wake up right in time for sunrise, but hear the famous rain sounds on the rain fly of the tent. At 4:59 this morning, I called off the sunrise picture taking, as there would likely be no sunrise in photographical terms. Two hours later I stick my head out of the tent and feel like set in a different time or place, or both. The scenery was covered with almost a foot of snow.

123-2325.jpg (80183 bytes)123-2344.jpg (125196 bytes)This much said, and seen, we rejoiced ourselves about the weatherproof clothing and shoes that we had, unlike others. Personally, I rejoiced myself about seeing this place in winter, kinda, something that I always wanted. The park ranger somewhat dampened the joy by telling us that all roads were closed, except the one out of the park, to West Yellowstone. Well, one road is better than none, and so we headed out to have warm breakfast, enjoying the white scenery, which made the bison stand out oh so much more. At the west entrance I saw the park rangers turning away incoming traffic, so I had the park ranger reassure me that I will be let back in since I still have my tent etc. in the park. With that we had breakfast at the Three Bears restaurant, followed by the "Yellowstone" IMAX movie at the local theatre. 

123-2357.jpg (45084 bytes)123-2347.jpg (41603 bytes) The park rangers and I got into a small dispute when I was trying to re-enter the park, as they said that the rules had changed, that nobody would be let in. After some persuasion of the supervisor and the help of some other rangers we were allowed back in as promised. And we had the park pretty much to ourselves. It was unclear where everyone was, but it was pretty obvious where they were not, and it seemed that the animals enjoyed it as much as we did, ranging from the wild goose family to the herd of bison. Even some hardcore fishermen could be found in the frosty waters. 

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123-2330.jpg (104854 bytes)123-2384.jpg (72365 bytes) Once they reopened other roads from Madison Junction, we headed south to see some of the thermal features of the park. Some Korean tourists were less lucky with their choice of clothing for this particular June morning, as sandals felt inadequate for the snow and ice. Still, they seemed to enjoy the scenery as much as we did, just sliding more.

125-2526.jpg (44216 bytes)125-2545.jpg (82207 bytes)Everyone was driving very slowly, and people joined stopped cars even more than usual. Naturally, we were no exception to the rule when we joined everyone staring into the forest, asking the question "and what are we looking for?" When the answer "bear!" came, I was quick at putting my long telephoto onto the camera body - but naturally not quick enough. By the time I found the bear and her two little babies they were far in the thicket and hardly recognizable -- but still, we saw three bears. Once they vanished completely I was approached by a newcomer and asked the usual "what and where". When I gave the reply "three bears and gone", the response was a very simple yet beautiful "Curses!"

127-2706.jpg (70045 bytes)127-2711.jpg (86489 bytes)Before the day was over we saw many more animals, including another bear having dinner in the distance, and a coyote who was crossing the road in front of us just before dark -- and I once again had a wide angle lens mounted on the camera... We also visited Mammoth Springs, which didn't really resemble any springs a lot, as they were mainly dry, very unlike during my previous three visits. 

107-0745.jpg (87502 bytes)107-0746.jpg (45152 bytes) We found the campground very empty, as in, with three tents in the whole section, one of them abandoned, probably traded for a cabin for the night. Before tent time Essan built a snow man, or rather woman, whom she named "Lara Croft", based on the snow(wo)man's size D, probably.

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