The Grand Tetons have to be the most stunning backdrop ever to watch wildlife. The prairie dogs have been left behind but replaced with an abundance of elk. Squirrels were exchanged for the adorable marmot. Each of the last few parks has added an interesting new ungulate to the mix. This time it is the moose, a really hideous looking mammal honestly. They are all legs and big lips, the animal kingdom’s version of Mick Jagger. The first moose was viewed from a pleasant distance. The second was a bit more intimate. She owned the trail and was not going to share. I could climb up a rock cliff or jump down into the water to avoid her. So I did what I do best and ran back down the trail. The problem is that she insisted on following. Eventually I hid behind a rock and watched her saunter by 15 feet away. So I should have incredible up close pictures, right? Nope. This is what I have to share of the moment.
The two sets of nesting eagles (**cough**) I saw as I floated down the river also came out the same. I was much to excited watching the momma bear with her cub to even think of my camera. It seems I need some lessons from the Goatographer who seems to have no problem catching me mid flight. Photography is simply not my gift.
Let’s focus on other people’s flaws, shall we? The most intriguing species by far is the homo sapien. It brings a whole new meaning to “wild life.” The recent buffalo-napping is only the beginning. This was repeated with a baby pronghorn as well. It makes me ill to speak of the graffiti decorating Arches National Park. Or how about the men prancing through the hot springs at Yellowstone? Such things just seem so obviously wrong, you have to wonder what motivated them. Perhaps they saw a reward sign for a lost dog and thought, close enough. Or maybe they thought the graffiti was a new interactive display provided by the park service. The guys in the hot spring were probably just too cheap to buy a shower. You wouldn’t think I would have such high expectations when I’m accustomed to people coming to the ER for hangnails. I keep thinking that perhaps with a good night’s sleep and strong cup of coffee the American IQ will suddenly rise. I might as well by lottery tickets.
Even if I have never witnessed outright atrocities myself, the shallow bottom is easy to see. I have come across women carrying giant purses through the Badlands. They require an assistant on the other side just to balance out the 20 lb bag they are carrying. I realize there are warnings to go to prepared but how much can really happen on a ½ mile trip down the boardwalk. I doubt that Vera Bradley is full of first aide, splints, and rescue harness in case of emergency. There was the guy wearing flip flops walking up Guadalupe. I can only imagine the toe jam after that expedition. His poor pedicurist. On second thought, perhaps I should give him credit. There is no way I would have made it that far in flip flops.
Today’s sighting was by far the best. A young woman showed up to the trailhead doing her best Taylor Swift imitation. In fact the woman looked like the early version of Taylor with her long blonde hair and long skinny legs. She was dressed in a thin long sleeve shirt and high waist shorts, the type that the gluteal fold falls out of with the slightest provocation. To complement this, she had on knee high socks with leather ankle boots that had a 2-inch heel. It was accessorized with a classy leather satchel hanging low and loose across her shoulders. I am sure this is the absolute latest high school fashion however those of us in long pants, hiking boots and down jackets to protect us from the freezing temps were openly incredulous. We might as well have stumbled upon a peacock strutting among the buffalo and elk. I simply lack the imagination to empathize with what she was thinking when she put it on that morning but I am sure the wildlife were very impressed.