Luke and I had the opportunity to join Jesse for a brief, yet incredibly satisfying 29 hours in Yellowstone. We came for the second of the two-day bison survey and joined Greg, Megan, Claire and M.C. with the mission of counting all of the bison in the study area. 1, 2, 3…849, 850 bison! Sticking with the theme of counting, I thought I would list my top 10 favorite memories from the trip. In no particular order:
1. Rescuing a great horned owl from the side of the highway who had apparently been hit by a car. She was affectionately named Pricilla, and appropriately called Illa for short. She was very sick. Sadly, we were later informed that she did not survive more than 24 hours. R.I.P. Illa.
2. Entering the park when it was clearly closed to the public. My memories of Yellowstone have always included waiting in long lines in one of the four lanes entering into the park and paying a fee at the collection booth. I felt very privileged and a little mischievous driving into the park without paying and avoiding all lines and other vehicles.
3. Acting as secretary as Jesse and Luke shouted out numbers for the bison survey. I am still not exactly sure how they could tell whether the bison was a bull or a cow.
4. Experiencing the antennae. I have read about it and seen pictures of it, but it was somehow more satisfying than I thought to hold the antennae and radio in my own two hands and listen for the beeps that signified nearby life.
5. Being in the presence of two very trained spotters. I made an eye doctor appointment after we got back from our trip. But in my defense of being quite bad at spotting animals, I really do think Jesse and Luke took after the hawk and have at least 20/10 vision. They have a gift for picking a needle out of a hay stack. Or in this case, a wolf out of a densely populated forest.
6. Accurately identifying a bluebird. Not that a bluebird is hard to ID. This was just the one time I pointed out something that neither Jesse nor Luke pointed out. I made up a game that consisted of winning points for each animal you identify. I am not a big fan of losing so I decided to call off the game, but if I recall correctly, the bluebird was worth at least 100 points.
7. Going for a 20 mile road ride on Jesse’s bike. I did not quite reach my destination goal of Old Faithful. When I rode up to 30 bison standing in the middle of the road I imagined myself being hurled into the air similar to what is pictured on the Yellowstone posters placed throughout the park and then decided to turn around.
8. Volunteering to be on bear lookout while Jesse and Luke performed a necropsy on the freshly murdered bison. The grizzlies were coming out of hibernation and were very hungry so someone had to keep post while the other two people poked and prodded at their food. I was given bear spray.
9. Snowshoeing in a tank top. Spring has come!
10. Spending time with Jesse and Luke in their element. I am amazed at their knowledge and passion for the outdoors. When I have the opportunity to hang out with them in the outdoors, I am always given a deeper appreciation for the Creator and His creation.