"" Writer's Wanderings: October 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Buffalo Bill Ranch

Limiting our drives to 5-6 hours a day we were always looking for things to fill in with. After all once you get to the hotel who wants to just sit in a room? We arrived a little early in North Platte, Nebraska, so we plugged in the address to the Buffalo Bill ranch I'd found in an online search. We were glad we did.

William F Cody or Buffalo Bill as he was more commonly known built his large Victorian mansion on a piece of the 4,000 acres that he owned in North Platte. It was built in the heyday of his Wild West Show in 1886. His first show was actually performed in the town on July 4, 1882.

The first show, actually called the Old Glory Blowout, is said to be the beginning of the rodeo. It expanded and became a troupe of 1200 eventually that traveled east to give easterners a taste of the wild west. There were hundreds of animals including a herd of buffalo. Indians were a big part of the show as well as some of the more famous included Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Geronimo, and Rains in the Face who was reportedly the one who killed Custer at the infamous battle.

My brother and I had cap guns like this!
Included in the performances was roping, trick riding, and shooting and the stars were Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickok, Bronco Bill and Will Rogers. The show would end with an enactment of the Indians burning a white village with Buffalo Bill and his troupe of men coming to the rescue.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show even went to Europe and toured and performed in England at the request of Queen Victoria. But William F. Cody wasn't always a performer and showman. His life story includes being a frontiersman being paid to kill buffalo for food for the railway workers, a scout for the Army, and a guide for wealthy Easterner's buffalo hunting trips. He also had a short stint as a Pony Express rider. A video that details a lot of his life is shown in an upper room of the mansion as part of the tour.
If this had been our transportation, I wouldn't have come.

Sixteen acres of the original 4000 were turned into a State Historical Park in 1965 and since then the house and the original barn have been restored and much memorabilia collected. Walking through the house is fascinating and fun. The acreage is beautiful and we had a nice sunny afternoon to explore.

In the barn is a display of several fancy carriages and wagons from the era and lots of posters of the Wild West Show as well as pictures. Not far from the barn is a log cabin that would have preceded the era.

One of the other attractions in the area caught our eye, The Golden Spike Tower. Thinking this was where the golden spike was driven that connected the two railroads, Union Pacific and Central Pacific, we were excited to go visit. It would have paid to do our homework. The spike was driven in a ceremony on May 10, 1869 in Promontory Summit, Utah.

"So there's no gold spike here?" asked Bob.

"No," said the sweet lady at the gift shop. "But we have small replicas you can buy."

Disappointed, we still paid to go up in the huge tower that resembles a spike and view Bailey Yard is said to be the world's largest rail yard. The brochure says it's where east meets west on the Union Pacific line. Each day 10,000 cars are handled on 2,850 acres of land stretching out eight miles.

It was quite a view from the top but unless you were really into railroading, it was just a nice view. I enjoyed looking down and seeing a pumpkin patch and a maze cut in the cornfield next to the tower. Reminded me that we were really getting into the fall season.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Badlands National Park

"I've been about the world a lot, and pretty much over our own country," wrote Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935, "but I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands." Me too, Mr. Wright. Our main purpose in traveling the area a bit to the southeast of Rapid City, SD, where we were staying was to visit the Minuteman Missile Historic Site. Since that involved two different places along I-90 we decided to sandwich a drive through the Badlands National Park.

A couple we had met at dinner way back in Glacier National Park told us that we'd see all sorts of bison, or buffalo as many call them, in the Badlands. Well, we'd seen enough in Yellowstone thank goodness because we arrived just after the yearly roundup of bison in the Badlands. The roundup is done every year to gather data and check on the health of the herds. So on our drive through, we did not see any bison but we did get a chance to see so much more.

The Badlands are desolate mostly except for some large prairie areas where bison (when not rounded up), bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live. The rocks and stone faces of the landscape take on an amazing array of colors and I would imagine if you spent the day wandering around there you would see even more as the sun's rays changed direction.These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here.

As we drove through the park, we made some great discoveries thanks in part to the other cars pulled to the side of the road for animal spottings. At one point we decided to get out and walk a bit. The first thing we saw was a sign warning of rattlesnakes. OOOOkaaaay. I made Bob go first. We didn't see any but I was willing to give him my camera and run the other way if we did.

The fun part of the park was going through the prairie land. We suddenly realized that what at first we thought were small rocks were actually prairie dogs. A little like my favorite zoo animal, the meerkats, they would pop their heads up and look around. One fellow had his burrow so close to the road that he was in danger of being run over.

It was time for lunch by the time we came back out of the park and we decided to eat before going to the second Minuteman site. All along the way from the first entry into South Dakota and even more so in this area of the Badlands, we had seen signs for a place called Wall Drug. It seemed, according to the advertising, you could get almost everything there including a five cent coffee. We set the GPS for it.

Wall is a town just off of I-90 and easy to find with all the signs pointing to Wall Drug which is the biggest thing in town. It is a huge cafeteria that seats 530 people and even though it wasn't high season, it was a mass of confusion with people in lines ordering food and then carrying it around on trays. I wasn't ready for the chaos and said we ought to check out a different place which we did and had a much quieter lunch.

We returned to Wall Drug to walk around. It is set up like a mall with all sorts of shops selling everything from souvenirs and western gear to ice cream and fudge. Definitely one of the tourist traps in the world of travel but a hoot to visit. One place, the Travelers Chapel was unique. I'd never seen something like this outside of an airport. A good place to stop and reflect on all that we'd seen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

If you live long enough you become a part of history. The Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the end of the Berlin Wall are all a part of my life history. Yes, I went through those atomic bomb drills where we had to scramble under our school desks when we heard the air raid siren sound and hide our eyes from what we were told would be a blinding blast of light. (Those drills have now turned into tornado drills.) No one mentioned that if the bomb did go off there probably wouldn't be any of us left to worry about our sight.

The Cold War was defined as an ideological, economic, and political struggle between the United States and at that time, the U.S.S.R. (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). I'd rather call it like it was/is: an old fashioned line drawn, cross it and you're dead. It was and continues to be a stand off of what is called deterrence strategy: If you bomb us, we'll bomb you and our bombs are bigger.

The Minuteman missile designed back in the 1950s was an intercontinental ballistic missile and part of our air, land and sea based nuclear capability. The Minuteman I and II missiles were to be deployed from underground silos, launched by crews who were stationed miles away. These sites are no longer active but there continues to be others that are.

In 1999 Congress established two 1960s missile sites that were to be national historic sites. They include Delta-09, a missile silo, and Delta-01, a launch control facility. The information center for the historical site is actually a short distance away from the launch control facility and about a twenty minute ride or so from the missile silo, Delta-09. We started there.

Bob's research told him that we needed to get there early to get tickets. They only allow six people on the tour at a time. The space inside the launch control facility can only hold that many. Once we had the tickets (free), we spent some time viewing the video and looking at the temporary information displays. Sometime soon all the papered walls with the information will become permanent displays. Then we got in the car and back on I-90 to the next exit to tour the launch control facility.

We waited with several others outside a fenced in area that had all sorts of warnings to trespassers. While we waited, I noticed a coded message and a challenge to decipher it. It wasn't hard. I imagine our codes are much more intricate than that. I'd tell you what it was but then. . .

One of two key holes.
Our park ranger guide was excellent, very informative and really knew her stuff. She's also learning some as she goes because there are often men who served at the sites coming to revisit them with their families. Lots of stories to share.

Basically, the launch control site had about a dozen men at the site at a time. Several were on security detail, two were missileers who spent their time in the capsule at the controls, and then of course a cook. They were deployed from an Air Force base about an hour away. The missileers would spend 24 hour shifts in the underground capsule that had all the controls and were prepared to each use a key--a double safety system to deploy a missile should the command come. The keyholes were about twelve feet apart so it would take both of them turning the keys at the same time for launch.

A little missile humor.
The security men were there to monitor the alarms and check on breaches of the silo areas. Unfortunately in the early days, the settings were so delicate that squirrels and rabbits would set the alarms off and the men would be out, often in the weather, finding nothing wrong. This was not lost on the local youth who, for a fun time, would toss a rabbit over the fence to trigger the alarm. Eventually a better security system was implemented and save a lot of false alarms.

We explored the upper levels of the control center that had living quarters, a lounge, a kitchen, and a security office with monitors. An elevator took us below ground to the launch control center which is like a large capsule suspended inside a cement cavern. It has its own life support and was equipped for seven days of survival but as we all agreed if you had to launch a nuclear weapon there probably wouldn't be much reason to want to survive. Not much would be left of our world.

Delta-09 silo.
Lots of information can be found at the NPS site if you want to learn more. After our foray into the Badlands and Wall Drug, we went to the actual silo. On a sign at the fence entrance is the number you can dial for an audio tour. Bob dialed in and walked around the fenced in area while I sat in the shade. The sun was blazing and I'd already seen the missile in the silo. He was thrilled though at all the other information he gleaned.

Probably the most impacting information I received that day though came when our ranger guide showed a map of the area where Hiroshima is in Japan. There was a small black dot ringed by a red circle that turned pink as it radiated out. It indicated the whole area on the map where the atomic bomb had wiped out the city. She explained the power of the Minuteman II missiles but it didn't make sense until she flipped her map over and showed the illustration of what a Minuteman would have done. The area on the map was at least 10X bigger.

She went on to explain that we now have Minuteman III missiles with even more fire power. I shivered as I thought, "And we are not the only ones on this earth with that capability." I hate scary thoughts.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Mount Rushmore

Bob tells me the whole reason this road trip came to be was because we wanted to see Mount Rushmore. Yellowstone was definitely a bucket list item too and all the rest was just "icing on the cake". Our first glimpse of the famous memorial was as we were coming around a curve in the road on our way actually to see Crazy Horse. It was obviously a good viewing point as there was a small turnout to save on accidents from people stopping for a picture. A little later on we found a viewpoint for the profile of Washington. The sun was shining and we were enjoying another good tour day.

After our visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial, we drove back and parked in the parking garage at Mount Rushmore. (There is no fee for the memorial but there is an $11 parking charge.) The garage was pretty empty. One more reason for enjoying places in the shoulder season--that time just before and just after the summer tourist season and of course just before the weather turns wintry.

We strolled down the avenue of flags from all the states, district, and territories. The avenue leads directly to the four presidents and it is an awe inspiring walk. I got pictures of the four as we stood directly in front of them and then we took the walk of presidents just below the sculpture and enjoyed some of the displays and information posted along the way. There is a small museum where the models for the sculpture are housed as well as pictures of some of the work in progress.

After I made sure I had my shots while the light was still good, we went into the information center and stopped to look at the video. Most national parks have videos and most of them give you a good overview of the park or memorial or monument.

The idea for the memorial actually originated with a man named Doane Robinson who wanted to build an attraction that would bring visitors to his great state of South Dakota. Several others picked up the idea and helped with fund raising. On the history page of the NPS there is also a copy of a letter from the man the mountain is named for, Charles E. Rushmore. It is all quite fascinating but even more so is the actual carving of the mountain done by the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln.

Borglum was actually working on the carving of Stone Mountain near Atlanta, GA, when he was approached and asked to take on the project at Rushmore. It was Borglum's decision to use the four presidents for the memorial. "The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt."

Washington was chosen as the father of our nation, having fought for our independence and helping to lay the foundation for our democracy as our first president. Jefferson is honored as our third president and for his role in writing the Declaration of Independence and expanding the borders with the Louisiana Purchase. It is only fitting that Theodore Roosevelt be there since he was so instrumental in conserving much of the lands in our country that have become our national parks, that and his contribution to the building of the Panama Canal. It goes without saying that Abraham Lincoln should be honored as the president who brought our country through its greatest trial, the Civil War.

At the cafe, we ate a fast food dinner rather than travel away and back again to see the evening lighting program. Thanks to the tips on Tripadviser, we snagged a couple of seats early in the back row that has a wall behind it so we could have a seat with a back rest. We sat for almost an hour and watched the other seats in the amphitheater fill up. The stage area has a large screen and after an introduction by the park ranger, a video was shown and then veterans in the audience were all invited to come forward onto the stage and participate in the lowering of the flag.

At the point in the program where the lights came on and the faces on the mountain were illuminated, there was a collective intake of breath just before cameras started clicking. If you visit the memorial be sure to make time for the evening ceremony.

It would be late when we arrived at the hotel but our room was ready for us and we were ready for bed. It had been a long day but a good one. Tomorrow would be fun and extremely interesting.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Crazy Horse

There were a lot of things we wanted to do in the Rapid City, SD, area. Our hotel was about a 45 minute drive from Mount Rushmore and we wanted to be there for the evening program so we opted to stop at Keystone, have lunch, see the presidents and stay for the evening program. But just after lunch we decided that the best idea would be to get to see the Crazy Horse Memorial project first.

I say "project" because it is a work in progress. The mission of the Crazy Horse Memorial is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians. As the brochure says, "The Foundation demonstrates its commitment to this endeavor by continuing the progress on the world's largest sculptural undertaking. . ." The memorial sculpture is of Lakota leader Crazy Horse and was begun in 1948. It is truly amazing.

The founders of the foundation are Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski. Korczak, the sculptor who began the project, was invited by Chief Standing Bear to come to the Black Hills and carve a mountain to honor Indian heroes. The Ziolkowskis didn't stop with just planning a huge sculpture. They went on to establish their non-profit organization and establish a place to preserve Indian artifacts and provide educational and cultural programming. The Indian University of North America was also established in 2010. It opened with 130 students from 16 states and 25 tribes completing the summer program in the past five years.

There is a huge museum and arts and crafts display where you can also purchase Indian crafts. A staging area allows visitors to see various cultural programs including Native American dance. You can also see the small model of the sculpture that will eventually emerge from the mountain.

The Ziolkowskis had ten children and many of them as well as their children are continuing their work and philanthropy. When finished the complex as well as the statue will be quite a place. It is all dependent upon donations and visitors fees. That in itself is quite an accomplishment.

Once we were done exploring, it was time to wind our way through the Black Hills to Mount Rushmore while the light was still good for pictures.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - A Mammoth Dig

From the Grand Teton National Park we drove to Casper Wyoming, stayed the night and set our sights on Rapid City, South Dakota, where we would spend a couple of nights and explore. About three hours into the drive we began seeing signs about a Mammoth--signs with the woolly animal, tusks and all, inviting us to stop. So. . .we did!

The town was Hot Springs, SD, and it was almost time to stop for lunch. We couldn't resist taking a look. Admission was only $9 for seniors and the tour was guided. The young man ushered our group into a short movie and then equipped us with a receiver and earphones that would help us to hear him clearly.

The dig has identified at least 61 different mammoths--two kinds, Colombian and woolly. The place was discovered in 1974 when a contractor who occasionally dabbled in paleontology began excavating for a new housing development. When he discovered the first bones, he stopped all work and notified those who could come in and uncover and preserve what was there.

In center, looking like footprints, are molars.
So how did so many mammoths (and several other types of animals) end up in one relatively small place? The answer lies in the formation of a sink hole some 26,000 years ago. There was a warm artesian spring that flooded the sink hole enticing the mammoths to drink and bathe in the water. Unfortunately for the mammoths, the edge of the sink hole was soft material that gave way easily and with their bulk and weight made it impossible to get out. On of the skeletons was found half in and half out of the lip of the hole. The hole eventually filled with silt and sediment and the mud that had made it impossible for the mammoths to crawl back out seeped in and around the remains preserving them.

Once the digging was underway and the perimeter of the sink hole determined, the area was enclosed and is now climate controlled to help preserve the finds there. The digging is still going on--slowly as with any discovery such as this. There are all sorts of programs available to involve the public including an area set up to encourage young paleontologists.

The bones are all displayed where they were found and our young guide used a laser pointer to show us some of the skeletons that were a little harder to see. Some are on top of each other. There are several though that are fairly intact and pose an impressive idea of what these amazing creatures must have looked like--at least in their skeletal dimension.

Well worth the stop. We had lunch down the road and then were on our way again to our next stop. The Black Hills of South Dakota.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Onward Through Grand Teton

The day we set out to leave the Yellowstone area the sun was shining brightly. After so many days of cloudy, rainy and even snowy weather, I had some mixed emotions about leaving it behind. I'd seen enough elks and bison but the one picture I really wanted to capture was a good shot of Old Faithful against a blue sky.

To get to our next destination we had to drive past the interchange where Old Faithful is. There is actually an interchange there sort of like a freeway exit and entrance because of the heavy traffic that would obviously be there in the busy season. As we approached I asked Bob if we could give it one more try. We'd drive to the information center and see what time was posted and try to catch it before we left.

As we neared the area my heart sank. I'd seen Old Faithful go off twice the day before and I was pretty sure that all the steam in the sky was from it erupting as we drove into the parking lot. Sure enough the sign on the door indicated we had just missed it! We circled around and headed south for Grand Teton National Park.

Once we passed out of Yellowstone, we were in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. It connects Yellowstone and Grand Teton and commemorates the contributions to conservation by Rockefeller on behalf of the National Park System. At Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch, we stopped and got a cup of coffee (a nice way of saying it was time for a restroom),

Jackson Lake Lodge lobby.
Relieved and getting over my disappointment about Old Faithful, I began to realize that we had passed into a more mountainous area and it was getting more beautiful by the minute. When we reached Jackson Lake Lodge, we stopped for lunch. The lodge was amazing and the scenery was breathtaking out the window of the dining room.

I knew we had quite a few miles to go ahead of us but I really wanted to linger. How had we missed planning more time here? We should have spent the night if for no other reason than to spend some time sitting in a chair and drinking in the fresh air and the view of the majestic mountains around us.

Our view for lunch
Reluctantly we pressed on but now I was truly wishing we'd not planned in so much detail. Perhaps the idea of just striking out and looking for places to stay along the way would have been better. But then I remembered that infamous trip to Niagara Falls where we were forced to sleep in the car one night. . .

Friday, October 16, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Yellowstone's Hot Spots

A good part of Yellowstone National Park sits in the middle of a caldera, a basin formed by the collapse of a volcano, that is approximately 30 by 45 miles wide. It is suggested that the last explosion of the volcano was around 600,000 years ago which caused the central part of the volcano to collapse. While there is no lava flowing above ground, there is quite a thermal boiling pot below the surface of Yellowstone obviously heated by some hot molten substance even further down.

While New Zealand and Iceland are noted for their hot springs and geysers, Yellowstone claims to have more of them--10,000 thermal features of which over 300 are geysers. They are scattered all through the park but usually can be seen in groupings around areas where the hot water has found its way to the surface. The largest areas are the Norris Geyser Basin, the Mammoth Hot Springs and of course the Geyser Basin where Old Faithful can be found.

When we first met with a ranger to get an idea of how to get around the park and what to see, the ranger tapped Bob's finger and said, "This is not a thermometer. Do not test to see how hot the water is." And yet, every so often you would see someone do it. Some of the thermal features can actually get hotter than the boiling point.

Hot springs are the most common. They are pools of water that give off a lot of steam especially on those days that the temperature dropped. The hot water rises to the surface gets cooled a bit sinks, reheats and rises again.

Terraced Mammoth Hot Springs
Mudpots are places where the acidic content of the water breaks down the rock and soil forming mud and the water bubbles up through it. Unfortunately there had been so much rain and snow the day that we visited the mudpots area that they weren't burping as nicely as we saw in New Zealand.

Fumeroles or steam vents are the hottest features. They often sound like a tea kettle steaming only with out the whistle. They hiss and throw out a lot of steam.

Travertine Terraces are fascinating--especially the huge one at Mammoth Spring. The terraced deposits are from water rising through the limestone carrying large amounts of calcium carbonate. When it is deposited, it forms travertine, the chalky substance you see in the picture. It all looks like something a landscaper may have created for a focal point with a fountain in the yard of a mansion.

Geysers are hot springs with smaller escape hatches through which the hot water escapes. The heat builds up deep in the earth causing the water to boil but because of the weight of the water above the hot water, pressure builds. Eventually the bubbles in the hot water cause the water above it to push out of the opening in the earth causing an explosion of water as if someone had turned on a fireman's hose and aimed it into the air.

We waited until our third day in the park to go to Old Faithful. The first two days were cloudy and rainy and sometimes snowy. Old Faithful was one of the must-sees for me so I wanted a good day. Unfortunately it was clouded over every time we saw it go off. They estimate it will erupt every 60 to 90 minutes. Each time it does, the rangers calculate the next predicted time with a give or take of ten minutes. Old Faithful was within two minutes either side of the predicted time each time we watched it.

Each thermal feature has its own palette of colors that are amazing. There are actually microorganisms that survive quite nicely in the hot water and lend their colors to the water and the deposits and rocks around the features.

There are lots of warnings everywhere about staying on the boardwalks and not stepping onto the areas surrounding the features mainly because they could be very hot or fragile. In one area we found lots of people had lost some very nice hats in a few gusts of wind and had to leave them behind. It explained the ranger we saw though with a long pole that had a claw on the end of it.

Tip of the day: Hold on to your hat!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park has many facets. The wildlife, the hot springs, the geysers and the beautiful views. None were more beautiful than those we found in the area called the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

The canyon varies from 800 to 1200 feet in depth and from 1500 to 4000 feet in width. Its length is about 24 miles. The hot spring activity changes the colors of the rock due to the differences in iron content.

On the eastern side of the loops where the upper meets lower is Canyon Village. There is a great Visitor Education Center there with a couple of videos to watch and several ranger programs. It's also the place we saw a bear spray rental. Apparently if you're into hiking the backwoods, you can rent a can of bear spray in case you have a bear encounter.

A south rim drive and a north rim drive give you several different views of the canyon and the upper and lower falls. The upper falls of the Yellowstone River is 109 feet high and the lower is 308 feet high. Both are impressive. The lower falls appears to have a green stripe in it but it is caused by a notch in the lip of the brink of the falls making the water deeper at that point and it doesn't mix with the air to cause the frothy look of a waterfall. Therefore it appears to be a deeper color and greenish.

We drove leisurely along both the north and south rims stopping in between to have lunch at the Canyon Lodge. There were times when the weather broke and the sun peeked out enough to enhance the colors. While it's not the size of the other Grand Canyon, it is certainly beautiful in its own right.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Yellowstone's Wildlife

There was lots of other wildlife in Yellowstone National Park but not always so obvious as elk and bison. Twice we pulled over when we saw some cars stopped along the road and discovered that folks were watching a bald eagle. Both sightings were in a bare tree. Made me wonder if the eagles preferred the bare branches to leafy greens.

In one day, we pulled over for four bear sightings. We had only seen two in Glacier but now we were adding up our sightings quickly. I wondered if the colder weather was bringing them out looking for as much food as they could scavenge before the winter set in. An amazing fact we learned from the ranger with the toothpick stuck in the corner of his mouth was that bears don't always hibernate. The only time they go into hibernation is when their food source is gone. Then they hibernate to save their energy and their bodies feed off of the saved fat slower than if they were out running around.

Another bear fact learned was that they have teeth for pulling up vegetation and grinding it as well as canines for eating meat. Guess they try for a balanced diet?

And one more: The distinctive difference between a black bear and a grizzly is the hump on a grizzly's back. Either way, I'm not sticking around closely to decide.

On one particular wildlife stop we made, we noticed that people were a lot more excited than usual. When we got out and crossed the road to see what it was all about, we were pointed to something moving through the weeds on the other side of the river. We finally saw it! I snapped away as Bob inquired about it. Was it a wolf or a coyote?

Everyone's consensus was that it was a wolf. I took their word for it even though as Bob and I got back in the car we talked about wolves being more nocturnal. When I got home, I watched a video from the park about the difference between wolves and coyotes. When I make the picture larger, it looks like the animal has a pointier nose that would indicate it's a coyote. Plus wolves are said to be seen closer to dawn or dusk not in the middle of the morning.

There was also one other note in the information I gleaned from the NPS site. The coyotes are much less afraid of people, often look for a handout and will travel closer to the roads. So that's one more fact that leads me to believe it's a coyote. Hmmm. I've seen those in my backyard.

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