"" Writer's Wanderings: Road Trip 2015 - Yellowstone National Park, The Bison

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Road Trip 2015 - Yellowstone National Park, The Bison

First of all, no matter how many times you sing "where the buffalo roam," it does not make it true. As we listened to a park ranger explain (all the while a toothpick perched in the corner of his mouth) there are no buffalo in the U.S. Nope. There are water buffalo and cape buffalo in other parts of the world but what is known as the American buffalo is really a bison. He seemed to know his stuff. I'll take his word for it.

Our first close encounter with wildlife was with the bison. We were driving along and I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye and yelled for Bob to stop. Good thing there was no one behind us! He backed up a bit and there, standing so still on the crest of a small hill that I thought maybe it was a statue, was a huge bison. He slowly looked us over and then went back to sleeping or daydreaming or whatever it was we'd distracted him from.

Now if nothing else had happened, I would have been content with that close encounter but later, it got up close and personal! We rounded a curve and had to slow suddenly because there were a few bison on the road. The more we inched forward the more bison seemed to appear until we were surrounded. I rolled the window down cautiously. I'd had a bison stick his head in the window at a drive-thru animal safari once and the slobber was atrocious. Of course then the bison knew there was food. These guys and gals just were lumbering on to find a grazing spot.

We were thrilled obviously and within the next couple of days would find ourselves up close and personal several other times. One morning we drove down a side road where there were several large herds of bison and took some great pictures there.

At the end of one day, as we were exiting one of the other areas of interest where we'd stopped, Bob had to stop the car because the bison were leading a string of cars down the street. He stopped and got out of the car to take a video. The bison were actually beginning to run. I happened to turn and look in the other direction when I realized that there was a group of bison running through the field and straight at our car. I yelled for Bob to get back in and just as he did, the bison seemed to put on the brakes, look startled that we were there and then the group split and went around us. My heart didn't stop but it sure did pound! It was repeatedly pointed out through rangers and signs that bison can run up to 30 mph.

We saw dry bison and wet bison. Big old bison and young calves trotting beside their moms. Bison standing. Bison walking. Bison running. Bison laying in the grazing areas. Bison crossing the road and meandering down the middle of it. If you go to Yellowstone and you don't see any bison you probably have your eyes closed. There are said to be about 5,000 in the park that roam freely and just in case you don't believe that they can be dangerous, the NPS has a video on their website to warn you.

The most dangerous thing we saw was a photographer who was so engrossed in taking pictures of a large elk that he didn't realize a bison was walking right down the path beside him. Thankfully he pulled his tripod up and backed away and let the one ton bison with the horns pass by.

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