wildlife

White Buffalo

blogThis morning I had planned to shoot trees covered with hoarfrost, but when I opened my cabin door I had a bison browsing just off the porch. These bull bison are up to 2000 pounds and they are very agile, although most of the time they move very deliberately. Well, the fellow this morning took his time to munch on dry grass and scratch his head on one of the posts that mark the path between cabins. The bison was less than 20 feet away. I had just cracked the door wide enough to take pictures through the gap. I could hear his breathing, his jaws moving, and his hoofs in the snow. My hope was that he would not attempt to walk into the door…

He didn’t.

 

 

 

 

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Mixed bag

Shutdown

The night the lights went out, almost.

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Thousands of miles away the suits are having last minute discussions on whether to shutdown the government or not. I am celebrating a foot of fresh snow.

The lights stayed on. The park will remain open, for now. Xanterra will foot the bill to have the road plowed. Government buildings will remain closed. This could be a great weekend in the park. Just the locals (bison, elk, moose, foxes, coyotes and us) and fresh powder covering up the landscape. Let’s see what the morning has in store…


“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Thomas Jefferson

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One Man's Paradise

Good Morning – № 2

When the temperatures drop into the teens overnight we are waking up to spectacular mornings: Mist in the valley, hoar frost on the trees. Together with bison grazing snow covered meadows and you get the proverbial Yellowstone winter scene.

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“The morning is in itself a miracle, the chance to be able to live life – is the greatest gift we have. The morning is a reminder of that, every day.”

J.R. Rim

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One Man's Paradise

Lamar River

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Lamar River, Wyoming

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II was a professor of law, a politician, and diplomat. He was a staunch opponent of Reconstruction, and did not consider freedmen and other black Americans fit to vote. He promoted “the supremacy of the unconquered and unconquerable Saxon race.”

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Despite that racist conviction he had an illustrious career. Lamar was confederate minister to Russia and special envoy to the United Kingdom and France. He also was a professor of metaphysics, social science and law. He served as a lieutenant colonel of the 19th Mississippi Infantry Regiment for one day. in 1856 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives  and served as United States Secretary of the Interior under President Grover Cleveland. From 1887, he was a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, where he served until his death on January 23, 1893.

During an 1884–85 Geological Survey, Geologist Arnold Hague named the East Fork of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park the Lamar River in his honor.

One of these days the United States Board on Geographic Names may reconsider that questionable honor?

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One Man's Paradise

Winter morning

“What good is the warmth of summer,
without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

John Steinbeck


How sweet next summer will be!

The current weather conditions produce a spectacle, which repeats itself every morning. Large ice crystals form overnight on tree branches in the cold valleys. Fogs forms in the morning around sunrise. The sparse cottonwoods turn into glittering creatures, mysteriously disappearing in the mist. A few minutes later, and the trees emerge back from the fog.

The trees sparkle as if somebody had installed a million crystal lights. Soon enough the crystals melt of the branches, circling gently to the  ground. Snow falling out of a blue sky.

The cottonwoods take on their stark winter appearance. Crooked, naked branches disappearing into the winter night.

Shine on.

 

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One Man's Paradise

The Valley of Wolves

This is Lamar Valley, where wolves, elk, bison, and moose roam. On the ridges you can see mountain goats and bighorn sheep. If you are lucky you may find a wolverine or a cougar track.

Located at the Northern end of Yellowstone National Park this gem is occasionally compared to the Serengeti in Africa. More than 4.2 million visitors come to the park annually. Most of them visit in the summertime. Only 100.000 visitors come to see this amazing place in the wintertime.

It is one of the few places in North America, where you can see wolves on a regular basis. There are about 100 wolves living in the park, where they are protected. To follow the fate of wolves in modern times is rather gruesome. Even in National Parks, such as YNP, wolves were until about 100 years systematically eradicated, using poison, traps, and bullets.

Bison experienced a similar decline. Within 30 years bison were brought to the brink of extinction. 15-30 million bison have roamed the plains and valleys of the West, when the first settlers showed. I thought for a long time that bison were killed for their meat and hide. Now I am learning that bison were at the center of the livelihood of First Nation people. The army recognized that and assisted in the killing of bison, as a mean to suppress First Nation people [1].

Interestingly, Lamar Valley was the place, where the last wild bison were captured and protected from hunters and poachers at the turn of the century. In 1995-96 wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone. One of the holding pens was and still is located in Lamar Valley.

A place, rich in history. One could argue a little piece of heaven (if it weren’t for the 4.2 million tourists). Imagine what this place must have looked like before Western civilization arrived. The same goes for other locations, that did not have the same spectacular landscape as Yellowstone and therefore, did not get the same protection.

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Inside Out, One Man's Paradise

Goodbye Alaska, for now

“Time to leave now; 
sharpen this feeling of happiness and freedom, stretch your limbs, fill your eyes, be awake, wider awake, vividly awake in every sense and every pore.” 

Stefan Zweig

Moving to a new place means to trade the familiar with the unfamiliar. It means leaving friends behind and meeting perfect strangers. The comfort zone becomes less comfortable. 

Moving also brings excitement, new opportunities, and change, which must have a lot weight in my case, otherwise I would not lead such a nomadic life. 

After living three years in Alaska I am heading South. Not that I couldn’t stand the mosquitoes in the summer or the cold and the isolation in the winter. To the contrary, I liked the serene life style and the harsh weather during the winter months up North. Life may not be easy during the dark season, but it is simple. It takes work to stay alive. Everything takes more effort: going places, fixing things in and around the house. Those efforts made me a appreciate life. 

So why leave? For me it’s like watching a movie more than once. I may understand the movie better after the second time and find a few new details the third time around, but in general I got the big picture. So, I am going to see a new movie next time.

Maybe I find a place one day that I want to call home for the rest of my life. Maybe…

In the meantime I keep wandering. 

Navigating the Inside Passage


Alaska bid a magnificent farewell with a misty Inside Passage and glowing Northern Lights. 

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