Greetings from Yellowstone

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swalker

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We are once again in Yellowstone. We made reservations for this trip back in October of 2015, knowing that we could postpone, shorten, or cancel the trip if necessary. As departure time approached, I seriously considered postponing or cancelling the trip, but persevered with the preparations and we eventually departed Vail on schedule with 2 cars, 1 trailer, and 2 wheelchairs.

This was our first real trip with the trailer. Our good friend Greg was instrumental in getting us packed and ready for departure. It is a blessing to have such a wonderful friend.

I was pretty tired when departure day arrived, so I slept late (which I am doing more and more). It was a good thing, as that gave the snow storm time to abate a bit. We left in falling snow with 6 inches on the ground. What an adventure!

The south entrance to Yellowstone was still closed for the season when we departed from home, so we deviated from our normal route and entered Yellowstone National Park from the west through West Yellowstone, Montana. We took 2 days to make the 13 hour drive, stopping overnight in Pinedale, Wyoming.

Once we arrived at the Madison campground, the real excitement began. My wife Lori and I had to visit the campground’s dump station to de-winterize the trailer and fill it with fresh water. That was a first for us, and we fumbled around quite a bit getting it all figured out.

We then towed the trailer to our designated campsite and set it up. That was another first, and took quite a bit of time and effort to accomplish. We got it done and are very happy with the campsite and the trailer setup.

Until this trip, we have been tent campers. Camping in a trailer is certainly different. We lose a bit of intimacy with the great outdoors, but it is sure nice to have a heater working away through the night when the temperatures are a bit below freezing (which is every night?).

The staff at the Madison campground as been wonderful. They have really gone above and beyond to help us out. Some remembered us from last year and greeted us warmly. We have met some new friends among them. They have been very accommodating of our needs, including clearing out a space for the van to park overnight next to a power outlet so we can charge the wheelchairs.

We have now been in Yellowstone for 2 weeks. In that time we have seem amazing geology and wonderful thermal features. We have spent a lot of time watching wildlife as well.

On the wildlife front, we have seen a grizzly bear from about 2 miles away, another from about ½ mile away, and I saw a third from about 150 yards away. We have also seen a black bear sow with a cub from this year as well as 3 other sightings of black bears.

We have seen numerous buffalo, elk, and deer along with coyote, a couple of wolves, some bighorn sheep and one mountain goat. We have also seen many wonderful birds, including bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons, mountain blue birds, ravens, trumpeter swans, and sandhill cranes.

One of my passions is wildlife photography and Yellowstone is a great place to pursue that passion. I find that it is quite a bit more challenging with my increasingly-limited mobility. I can still stand and walk short distances, but struggle quite a bit with uneven ground. I can place my big wildlife lens on my lap in my wheelchair and hang the tripod off the back of the wheelchair. This works reasonably well, but I did manage to drop the camera and lens as I was getting the tripod off the wheelchair. That was a major catastrophe, but fortunately all the gear is insured. The camera and lens will have to go in for repair when we return home, but I am able to work around the issues caused by the damage well enough get a few reasonable pictures.

One of the highlights for me (unfortunately, Lori missed it), was watching a grizzly and wolf feeding on the same carcass that the wolf pack had brought down the day before. They eventually got into a confrontation over the carcass, which made for some exciting viewing and photography.

So far we have toured the Upper (seeing Old Faithful erupt a half a dozen times), Black Sands, Biscuit, and Norris geyser basins. We have seen many geysers erupt and met new friends among the more serious geyser watchers.

The limitations imposed by the progression of the disease are more obvious in this setting. I can do less, my stamina is less, and riding in the wheelchair beats me up more than last year. But, this is such a wonderful adventure and I am enjoying it so much.

I will close out with a word of encouragement for those who are considering their own adventure. When it seems like an overwhelming challenge to plan and prepare for it, persevere. If you can go, go. I did, and it has made all the difference.


Steve
 

mich5

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loved reading this! good for you!
 

swalker

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Here is an attempt to upload some pictures of wildlife we have experienced.
 

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Nuts

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Steve, how wonderful!!! I'm so glad that you are making the trip. I've been thinking that you've been pretty quiet lately--now I know why! We're planning another trip to Colorado in September, this time with Van, truck, trailer, and brother-in-law. It'll be a caravan !!

Becky
 

BlueandGold

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Steve I'm so happy for you. You are making the most out of your life, more so than healthy individuals. I so admire your perseverance. Wish I had half of what you possess.

Vince
 

gooseberry

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So very glad for you! Travel was a big piece of our lives and we took trips routinely. Like you, I loved ayellowstone. I hope the rest of your time is amazing for nature and less adventuresome with equipment!������
 

KimT

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Steve, Loved the pictures and loved that you were able to make the trip.
 

laurel

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Steve your photography is some of the best amateur photography that I have seen. Amazing shot of the grizzly and wolf, and the two snarling wolves. I am awed by your determination and zest for life. All the best to you and Lori, and stay safe and don't overdo it my friend.
Laurel
 

affected

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TOTALLY LOVE your photography!

Thank you for taking us on your trip there yet again.
It's a wonderful thing to share it with you, your stories are great to read and then the photos to boot!
 

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Thanks for sharing--impressive photos. We're on our way to Banff, Jasper and Glacier Parks in June--you've inspired me to be more adventurous than I might have been.
 

chally

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Great shot Steve, yea your right about gitting out and trying to do things. I don't think I can make it to Yellowstone this time but I did just get back from a camping trip into our own little wilderness called Cranberry Glades Willderness. It was great ! Had six friends to help me about. Friends who know what being in the woods mean to me and are willing to make it happen. They fished and I enjoyed watching them and when they caught one from a hole that I pointed out I felt as if I was fishing through them. National geo has last issue on Yellowstone but no photos as good as yours Steve! Thanks chally
 

vltsra

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Steve, thanks so much for sharing these wonderful pictures and your adventure! So happy that you are able to return to such a wonderful place.

V
 

ShiftKicker

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Beautiful photos and wonderful description. Every time you post about Yellowstone, it reinforces my desire to go back there. The West entrance is how we arrived there- it's wonderfully dramatic and seems to build up the excitement by giving random glimpses of some of the wonders the park proper holds, with the big vista of the lake right at the end of the drive before descending into the valley. Magical place- I'm so glad you're there and enjoying it, bear sightings and all.
 

wshealey

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Great shots Steve. Your images evoke so much emotion, from the sheer power and intensity of the wolves to the tranquility of the swan. Very impressive.
 
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