GO'IN TO MONTANA, BUT WE NEED TO STOP IN YELLOWSTONE FIRST.
  I RIDE AN OLD PAINT        
(Woodie Gutherie)

I ride an old paint, I lead an old dan
I'm goin' to Montana to throw the hoolihan
They feed in the coulees, they water in the draw
Their tails are all matted, their backs are all raw

CHORUS:
Ride around little dogies, ride around them slow
For the fiery and snuffy are rarin' to go
TRAPPER'S PEAK, 10,157 FT. IT IS THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN THE 200 MILES LONG BITTERROOT MOUNTAINS
I was starving; my eyes were pained with glare; the land around me was hard and brown; sagebrush obscured scattered, dried grasses in all directions and the breezes that dropped down for a visit were hot and dry.  The air was heavy with dust, diesel exhaust and nitrous oxide.  The Kern River ran dry and the bed has become an empty channel of failure. 

This is my California, but after a winter of moderate weather, my images were of tall mountains, green and clear, with running waters, capstone snows, captured lakes and the chatter of wildlife.  I had a hunger that grapes, almonds and dry riverbeds would not fix. 

So, we just decided to go to the mountains in Montana.  There were plenty of other reasons to travel:  Linda wanted to do some genealogical research in Salt Lake City;  I wanted to visit with my sister-in-law, in Bear Lake, Idaho; and I wanted to see two friends from graduate school who lived in Missoula, Montana.

Montana….where the skies are blue and the winds fresh, the water cold, and the mountains high.  Montana, where one can be at the “top of the world” amidst the Big Sky.
(We were pleased to note that Montana winds of 70 mph blew into Salt Lake City the day BEFORE we arrived.  So the beast did not destroy the promise.)

It was our hope that traveling that far, amidst so many mountains, and along such rivers as the Bitteroot, the Firehole, the Gibbons, the Madison and  Clarks Fork of the Columbia, we would see fresh water.  Indeed, driving along the Bitteroot River, we would come across the Hannon Memorial Fishing Access Site.  (Linda’s maiden name is Hannon.)  To our surprise, at the furthest point of our adventure, in Glacier National Park, we came upon  Snyder Creek.  So in both cases some branch of the family had been there before.   This trip was meant to be.

We were not disappointed.   Leaving Salt Lake, we drove first to Rexburg, a small charming town that houses a BYU campus (Rick’s College), home to the educational needs of many young men and women.  It has a lovely new additions to its  campus, striking sculpture and soaring architecture.   We walked about a bit, just feeling the earth and the green, then moved on to the beautiful Bear Lake, which sits astride the Utah/Idaho Border.  It lies along the Lewis and Clark Trail, hosts a mixture of local old-timers, and is the hide-away of my sister-in-law, Tiina.  The town, appropriately enough, is called Fish Haven.
 
We visited for the rest of the afternoon, looking at Tiina’s horses; admiring her fresh spring flowers; eating her delicious quiche, rhubarb pie; and for Linda there was a special apple pie. 

We took a lot of time to admire her daughter Alida’s paintings.  Her work, from my point of view, continues to mature and she has an uncanny gift for doing portraits of people wherein she just completely captures their sense of self.  I feel that I know these people when I look at her sketches  Yet, Alida lives and works in Paris, and I have never met "Fred" or her other subjects.

We spent the afternoon there, then drove on to Pocatello, a nice little city, but filled with families who were there for a baseball tournament with their children.  We got to our room; closed the doors, slept and left.  And as we were leaving town, we saw a sign that said, “West Yellowstone-87 miles”.  Linda and I looked at each other and then we stopped the car.  We had been planning to go to Dillon, Montana, but Yellowstone was so close.   hmmmm
NICE CAMPUS, PRETTY LOGO
BEAR LAKE, IDAHO
TIINA'S ARABIAN MARES, HAPPY IN THEIR HOME AND DOING WHAT HORSES LIKE BEST.
SPRING TULIPS AT TIINA'S
FRED,
Oil on wood panel, 50 x 55
By Alida Bockrath, 2002
Used with permission of Alida Bockrath. To review a wide range of her works, you can access her web page at:
http://www.contemporaryfigurativepainting.com/index.htm
CLICK HERE
We entered the Park from the west about noon and headed for Old Faithful. We saw a lot of wildlife, including the rare Trumpeter Swan, the not so rare bison, with babies in tow, and the ubiquitous elk resting comfortably replenishing fat lost from the winter.  We visited some of the spectacular thermal features of the park, and one of them particularly caught my attention: the Bacterial Mat at the Paint Pots.
 
There, in water that would cook an egg, was a colony of bacteria spread over an area 4 x 6 feet.  I was reminded of an article I had read recently describing the many new bacterial forms that researchers are discovering in Yellowstone Park.  Known as “thermophiles” some have already made their way into the health care system, and there is a regular program of collection, assessment and trial of these bacteria which may benefit our health, or other commercial products.  

As we drove through the park, Linda noted how vigorously the forests are returning to shape in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1988.  That blaze shook the very foundations of the public’s perception of park management principles.  The Forest Service knew that forest fires advanced the cyclical flow of germination from seeds, assisted in the replenishing of various flora and fauna and were generally a natural part of the circle of life.

Therefore, it allowed these 1988 fires burn, and burn they did covering 1/3 of the national park.  Finally, public outcry overwhelmed the management philosophy and the fires were extinguished as time and weather permitted.

We were happy enough to get to visit Old Faithful, and have her erupt about 10 minutes after we arrived, and we were thrilled to see Gibbon Falls, and the flow of the Firehole River.  However, we did not see those two powerful predators:
WOLVES AND GRIZZLY.

Reintroduced to the park in 1994-1995, 41 wolves constituting 7 different packs have been placed in Yellowstone Park. Their numbers and their “home base of capture” guaranteed genetic diversity and reproductive success.

Only 20 percent of the wolves born are alive at age two years due to predation, disease, misadventure or weather.  We may not have known it prior to this 1994 reintroduction and close follow-up study of the wolves, but the young must be taught to hunt, how to kill and how to deal with other predators or scavengers who would have them or their kill for a meal.
 
The terms Alpha Male and Alpha Female are truly meaningful, for they are the ones in the pack who breed, only to one another, with rare exceptions.  The pups then become the responsibility of the entire pack and the youngsters of the group play a vital role bringing the pups food and teaching them to hunt, with strategy, and to kill with courage. Wolves kill elk (mostly), bison (occasionally), coyote and wolves strange to the pack.

Bringing down an elk is a risky business, and the wolf can be severely injured if it is kicked by the fleeing animal. Bison taken are usually calves, elderly or injured.  On the other hand, healthy coyotes run for their lives when they see a wolf.  The outcome is almost always death to the Wily one.

In time, some youngsters grow to maturity, begin to seek their own mate or drift on to form another pack.  A wolf who survives to age eight is a very lucky wolf indeed.  Despite “natural causes” most are killed by humans following a marauding attack on cattle.

                  
Five Interesting Things About Wolves

1. The pack is successful in its hunt for game only about 20% of the time. In late winter, kills may take less than a minute.

2. The wolf kills by seeking and holding the prey’s windpipe, thus strangling it to death.  The jugular vein is too deeply imbedded.

3. Wolves can eat about 2.5 pounds of muscle or organ meat in a minute. (Thus, don’t wolf down your food.)

4. A Grizzly will take a meal from the wolves if he wants it. 

5. Alpha Males and Alpha Females are the only members of the pack allowed to carry their tails up in the air.  But they also carry higher levels of stress (revealed in blood analysis) than other members of the pack. 
CLICK HERE TO SEE WEB PAGE ON THERMOPHILES
CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THIS ISSUE OF FIRE IN YELLOWSTONE
OLD FAITHFUL DOES HER THING CLICK HERE
OH, GRANDMA, WHAT BIG EYES YOU HAVE! ! !
OOOOOOOHHHHHH   GRANDMA, WHAT BIG TEETH YOU HAVE !!!!!
GRIZZLY NOT WILLING TO GIVE UP A MEAL.  WOLVES LEFT.
WOLVES KILL ANOTHER WOLF FROM A DIFFERENT PACK.  HE WAS ON THE WRONG TURF.
A WINTER'S MEAL.  THIS ELK FED THE PACK.
GRIZZLY BEAR: In Africa, if the lion is king of the jungle, in North America, the Grizzly Bear is king.  He/she is large, sometimes weighing 1,000 pounds or more (600 pounds for females). He is dangerous in that he/she will charge upon confrontation, especially females with cubs. He is virtually impervious to instant death, even from modern weaponry, and one wants to be a distance before firing. In case of attack, the best strategy is to lie motionless (play dead) with arms covering head and side of face.  There are no guarantees of survival, but that is the most successful pose.
Just one true story:
By Creig Sharpe, Kodiak Island, Alaska, April 1977
He, Sharpe, had a .340 caliber Weatherby Magnum…sighted in at 200 yards, and was firing 250 grain Nossler factory-loaded ammunition. He shot his Grizzly and knocked the bear onto its back with all four legs extended.  Rifle jammed, and by the time he got it cleared the Grizzly was up and tumbling toward him.  He fired another shot which hit the bear within 5 inches of the first one, broadside about five inches below the shoulder.  This time, the bear fell over a 200 foot embankment, and took off.   Sharpe trailed him for two hours. Resting with his hunting companion, they decided to return to camp and come find the bear the next day.  It was near dusk. 
Suddenly from about 10 yards in the thick foliage, the wounded beast charged again.  Sharpe tried to stick his rifle into the bear’s mouth and fire, but the Grizzly snapped it in half with his jaws.   Sharpe fell down and “covered up.”   Then, Sharpe’s companion fired three shots into the bear hitting him in the lung, shoulder and neck.  Then his rifle jammed.  The Grizzly retreated and Sharpe got one more shot into him from about 100 yards hitting him in the rump.  Knocked him down but did not know the outcome.  Sharpe suffered some bites and a shattered leg, when one of his companion’s bullets hit him on the way to the bear.   Companion found Grizzly dead in the brush the next day.
DEFENDING HER CUBS
THERE HE IS...SAFE AND SOUND!
HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU KID!
FISH IN SIGHT...CLAWING THE WAY THROUGH WATER
OUT AND ABOUT IN THE YELLOWSTONE PARK....THINGS THAT WE DID SEE!
HEY MOM........WHERE ARE WE GOING....IS IT EASIER IN A CAR?
ELK REGAINING FAT SO THAT THEY CAN WEATHER THE WINTER AND NOT MEET UP WITH THE WOLVES. HE SWAM THE CREEK AND MISSED THE CARS.
WILY COYOTE...WATCHING FOR WOLVES.
CLICK HERE: BUBBLING PAINTPOTS
We were also keen to see a moose….no luck, and no one quite knows where or when they will show up.  One lady at a gift shop said that she saw one two years ago, and was so struck by its ungainly manner, that she has decorated her whole house with moose images.  Yellowstone does have a way of capturing your attention.
THE RARE TRUMPETER SWAN, SAFE ON THE MADISON RIVER.
Finally, out of the northern gate we went, aiming for Bozeman, but the highway was pretty, the mountains were inviting, and we were anxious to have an easy traveling day the following morning.  So, we stuck to the pavement till it took us into Butte.
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BIG HOLE, MISSOULA, BIG FORK
GLACIER PARK