Today was a beautiful day to drive through the Rocky Mountains. The Beartooth Pass has already closed so I had to take the long way, west to Livingston and south from there. For most of the trip, the road follows the Yellowstone River which according to “Tom the bartender from Billings, MT” is the only river in the entire U.S. that is not dammed. To the northwest stood the snow topped Crazy Woman Mountains held sacred to the Crow.
Closer to the park I got my first glimpse of buffalo and later after checking into the hotel, I got the closest glimpse I’ve ever experienced of deer and elk. I was walking around Gardiner, a rather cute tourist town just outside the northern entrance to the park. I came across a side street where there was a family of deer in the front yard of the house on the corner. Susan had showed me how to walk silently like the Lakota so I used this technique to creep up as close as possible. I stood completely still in the street when their ears perked only to watch a local man walk loudly past me straight towards them and around the corner. They hardly flinched and I laughed at how amusing I must have looked. I walked up to about 20 feet from the family; there were 5 does and 3 fawns. I got a number of photos but I’m inserting the best of them. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
They weren’t frightened by humans in the least. But I kept my distance, remembering what the police officer from Billings had told me, though they never stamped their feet or showed any signs of aggression. I didn’t think I would get a better view of these beautiful animals than this. I thought of how much my Dad would have loved to be standing there. Later as the sun was going down, I came across a group of elk feasting on a crabapple tree. The photo is a bit fuzzy as it was getting too dark. I had never seen a living elk, let alone one that was almost within arms reach.
I spent some time frolicking along the Yellowstone River. I found a perfect rock, round and pock marked, the size and shape of an ostrich egg. I wanted to bring it with me as it felt so amazing in my hands but I decided to leave it in its natural habitat. I did take some lovely photos in various positions; the one below is my favorite.