Carousing at the Occidental Saloon

The Occidental Saloon was packed when we moseyed on in. Lots of blue jeans and cowboy hats. Sitting, drinking, carousing and two-steppin'. We ordered our beer and instantly loved the country jam band. Banjos, violins, and all sorts of crazy guitars; they were rockin'. The walls were filled with the heads of moose, elk, longhorn, bison and bear skins. The embossed tin ceiling twinkled and the "come-together-after-a-long-week-on-the-ranch" mood was infectious.

The band kept shifting; a woman came up to sing a Patsy Cline song and then a tall cowboy, apparently a notorious crooner, was pulled up by the men to sing a few sentimental songs. He also played the harmonica. Then they picked up the tempo and belted out some bluegrass. The played one of our favorites - 'Man of Constant Sorrow'.

Just as we set our empty beer glasses down on the bar, a giant brass belt buckle, emblazoned with 'Wyoming' and a longhorn, walked our way. "Can I buy you ladies a drink?" he asked. We said, "Why sure!" "Welcome to Buffalo," he said. "The name's Paul Bellamy". He introduced us to his charming sister, visiting from Montana. Apparently, we had wandered in on the best night. Thursday nights were when all the cattle ranchers, oil barons, and musicians came to drink and make merry. Paul was a petroleum drilling specialist.

Throughout the evening, it was impossible not to notice a boisterous gentlemen who, when we were finally introduced, Mary Lou kept asking, "do I know you from somewhere?" Nicole told her that she was probably mistaking him for Jerry Garcia, since he was a dead ringer. The man laughed at that, said he had gotten away with some trouble in his day because of the resemblance, and bought us all shots of Patron Silver. David C. Burt works in water recycling. He also represents country singers in Nashville, and was an investor in the Occidental. He introduced us to his lovely business associate, Dana Fowler.

When the music finally ended, David said we were "pretty fun girls", and told us to join him for breakfast at the cafe next door. We demurred, and said we had a long drive out of town to our campground. He disappeared and came back a few minutes later with a tag that said, "Guests of the Occidental" and told us to park right around the corner, next to the river. "Breakfast," he said. "9.30."

We slept peacefully and met David, Dana, Paul and his sister at The Busy Bee for trout, fresh biscuits and eggs. David brought a gift for Mary Lou - a bottle of Silver Patron. "Am I supposed to put this in my coffee?" she asked. "Save it for the road," David said.

Everyone had to work, but, David said if we met him at his office (in the Occidental) at 5.30, they would take us to find our elusive moose. We spent the day in the gigantic public swimming pool. It's the biggest pool that we have ever seen. And it was a free shower.

At 5.30, we got a tour of The Occidental. Beautifully renovated, we were completely immersed into the turn of the century. Furniture, fabrics, fixtures; everything was authentic. The bordello was left just as it was, a twin bed and a sink in each tiny room. The library, once an office of the creator of Zoo Books, was left full of archeology books and dinosaur bones.

We had a quick shot of Patron Silver in David's office, and hopped into Dana's Audi Quattro. She drove us up into the Bighorn Mountains, on the back roads, through aspen forests and fields of wildflowers. And then, we saw it! A moose! We finally got to see a moose in the wild. "Okay, now we can go to dinner!" said David.
They drove to the South Forks lodge, high up in the mountains, and found Chef Alfredo out on the porch catching a breath and looking down into the valley. Mary Lou immediately broke out the very limited Italian that she knew and introduced herself as Maria Luisa. Alfredo was impressed, and ushered us right in. We ordered a bottle of wine, and Chef Alfredo said to just let him take care of the meals, he would make us each something special. "For Momma Brazilian Beef. And for Filia, Shrimp Stir Fry."

The food was absolutely delicious. We ordered another bottle of wine, and shared tastes of our meals with each other. Dana, with big, beautiful eyes sparkling, told us about the mysteries of the Bighorn Mountains and the wildlife. David peered out over the rim of his glasses to regale us with personal stories, our sides splitting with laughter. Chef Alfredo came out to join us, offering a dessert platter for us to share. He told us about his work in California and Miami and how he comes out to Wyoming to relax and take in the fresh air.

He told Momma to turn off the open sign in the window and shut the restaurant. "I'm done for the night. Take me with you!" he said, as he grabbed a bottle of wine and jumped in the car. Back to the Occidental.

Click here for the photos!


Buffalo, WY

From Thermopolis, Mary Lou really wanted to avoid the mountains, but Nicole wasn't going to wuss out from seeing the Bighorns. Everyone she asked said that the low road, the highway to Casper, was damn boring. Nicole won, and drove East on Rte 16. When we reached Tensleep, at the edge of Bighorn National Forest, we both went silent. The road seemed to be descending into the start of a canyon, even as the canyon walls rose higher and higher. But the Tensleep River, swollen with winter runoff and running parallel with the road, seemed to be rushing upward!

"Nicole," Mary Lou said, "That river is flowing upwards. Isn't it? That can't be right, but. . . Is it?" It was wild! We thought we had driven into those magnetic hills we had heard about on Discovery Channel. Spots on the planet where gravity doesn't work, they say. The river was defying gravity. And then, as we went deeper into the canyon, it looked and felt as if we were headed downward, but the RV engine was revving to climb. Surreal.

We kept stopping to scan the mountains for bighorn sheep, but we never did spot any. We drove through the Powder River Pass (9665 ft) and down into Buffalo, WY. It was late evening, and we were pretty tired, but we knew there was a famous watering hole in Buffalo - The Occidental Hotel.

"The Historic Occidental Hotel, established in 1880, in Buffalo, Wyoming has hosted many notorious guests over the years including Butch Cassidy and the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, Tom Horn, Teddy Roosevelt, President Herbert Hoover and Ernest Hemingway. The Virginian Restaurant at the Occidental Hotel is named after the famous novel "The Virginian" by Owen Wister who also spent a fair amount of time there. Colorful cowboys, lawmen and drifters were regular customers. Today, the hotel has been accurately and beautifully restored to its original grandeur. All rooms and suites are furnished with antiques and decorated in elegant period style. Many original features remain such as the embossed tin ceilings and several antique chairs along with the 23 bullet holes in the saloon. The 25-foot back bar in the saloon was brought in by wagon over a hundred years ago. True West Magazine recognized this gem by recently naming The Occidental Hotel “The Best Hotel in the West”. National Geographic Traveler included the Occidental Hotel in the top 129 Hotels to visit in North America 2009."

We agreed that we would stop in for one beer, just to see it. We left the Occidental two days later.


RVederci Yellowstone

We knew that nothing could top the night of carnage in Hayden Valley, and we didn't want Kyle to get too jealous that we got to stay for so long, so we packed up the RV, said our goodbyes to Yellowstone, and drove out the East entrance of the park. We drove around the Old West town of Cody and stopped in to wildlife artist Charles Kirkham's workshop. He's a retired biologist who now buys, trades and creates with local and renewable deer, elk and moose antlers. As we admired the elk antler chandeliers, we spoke to Mr. Kirkham about our experience in Yellowstone.

Firstly, he told us that we did the right thing by not taking the bull elk skull out of the park. He asked if the tips of the antlers has been cut off, which they had, and said that the park rangers do that so the piece is not a trophy anymore. Then the rangers will place a tracking chip in the antlers and if and when someone takes it out of the park, they'll show up at their door to give them a $1,500 fine.

Then the conversation moved to the wolves. He, like most of the locals living off the land outside of the park, believed that it was time to start allowing permits to hunt the wolves. When the park reintroduced the wolves, they promised that the pack would be protected only until they were proven sustainable, and not at the risk of any other park species. The reintroduction had been so successful, and the wolves were so plentiful, that they were starting to become detrimental to the other species. That's why we didn't see any moose, the wolves had killed them all, or driven them down to the Tetons.

Also affected, were the elk herds, primary food for the bears, which were already starting to look for alternate food outside the park. The year before, a man had been hunted and killed by a bear. Not in an accidental encounter, but stalked and killed as prey. The wolves were a problem, the ex-biologist told us, and the park was hesitant to deal with the problem because the wolves have become the biggest attraction at the park. Everyone wants to see the wolves.

Before we left, Mr. Kirkham told us one more story of the man from "the city" (L.A.) who brought his family to Yellowstone. The first wildlife they saw were the grazing bison. He lifted up his two year old girl, placed her on the back of the bison, and stepped back to take a photo. The bison shook off the little girl and stomped her to death, as he watched. "And who did the city newspapers blame?", he asked us. Walt Disney. For making wild animals so friggin cute.

From Cody, we took the scenic route to Thermopolis, Wyoming. After two weeks in the wilderness, we needed what Thermopolis had - the worlds largest mineral hot springs.

In 1896 a treaty was signed with the Shoshone and Arapaho Indians, which gave the public use of the "healing waters". According to the agreement, use will forever remain free at the State Bath House, and that is straight where we headed. After twenty minutes soaking in the 104 degree mineral water, we were clean. Refreshed. We joked that Yellowstone had purified our minds, and the hot spring was purifying our bodies. It was blissful. Rejuvenating.


Night of Carnage

We parked the RV in a designated pull-off in the middle of Hayden Valley. If in the car, we would have driven around, looking for rangers, or following the guys with the really big cameras to find wildlife. But with the RV, we figured we would just park up and take a chance that something would run by. We grabbed the binoculars and the camera, and climbed up to the roof. We hadn't even sat down before a man below cried out, "Grizzly, dead ahead!"

The distinctive hump of the Grizzly's back was easy to spot, moving across the low sage brush. We watched as it zigzagged through the brush, nose to the ground. "He's searching about for a baby elk. Mother elk leave their little babies hidden in the brush, while they go out to graze." When the Grizzly suddenly sat back on its haunches and popped its head up to take a scan across the valley, the cry went out, "It found one!" Through the binoculars, you could see a limp and lifeless baby elk in its mouth.

It proceeded to rip apart its find, popping its head up occasionally to look around. When two large ravens showed up to grab a piece of the action, the bear got fed up at the nuisance, took the remainder of the elk in its mouth, and swam across the river. We watched for quite some time more while it finished its meal, before we decided to try another spot in the valley.

We drove South and pulled off at the next jam that we crossed. Far off in the distance, silhouetted against the setting sun, was a mother Grizzly and two cubs. We were having such luck that we decided to drive the Northern end of the valley. As we crested a small hill in the road, we came across the mother of all wildlife jams. The cars were at a dead stop, four wide, half a mile up the hill and around the corner. Since ton cars were getting by from the North, we were able to slide into a free space in the pull-off at the bottom of the hill.

Before Nicole could even shut the engine off and ask, "What are they looking at?", she saw them - wolves! Back up on the roof of the RV, we could see four wolves: two gray, one black, and one white. They were tearing apart an elk. That had apparently just taken it down because the rest of the herd was looking down cautiously from the top of a hill, like, "Is she doing to make it?"

Mary Lou grimaced as she saw bits of flashes of brilliant red as the wolves worked together to rip off chunks of elk flesh, but Nicole watched everything through the binoculars. For an hour, she sat and watched them finish of everything edible, observing the alpha white male eat first, with the help of one of the gray wolves. When the white one was finished, muzzle coated in blood, it trotted over to a clearing to rest, and clean up a little. With the alpha gone, the black wolf jumped in, while the other gray wolf sat patiently, watching, and waiting for its turn. It was bloody. It was raw. It was primal.

Satisfied with our night of carnage, we waited until the wolf jam cleared out a little, and got back on the road. We had just left Hayden Valley, riding parallel to the river, when we started to see brake lights ahead. We followed the line of sight of the pointing passengers and, through the pine trees, across the river, was a grizzly bear dragging something out of the water. Mary Lou jumped out of the moving RV with her camera, and left Nicole to navigate it to the next pull-out. Nicole backtracked through the woods, and watched as the Grizzly finished heaving a sickly grey, bloated carcass onto the riverbank.

No one could tell what it was, elk, antelope, maybe even a bison. The back legs of the carcass had already been stripped clean, and the white leg bones were splayed and pointed up to the sky. They trembled nauseatingly as the grizzly sunk his sharp claws into the beast and tore it open. A knowledgable gentlemen that had joined the jam informed his family that sometimes, during difficult winters, bears will eat some of their kill, and store the rest of it in the almost freezing river. A wildlife refrigerator, if you will. That carcass could have been pinned there in the logs, preserved all winter long, until the bear needed it. Awesome.

The sun had finally set. As we sat outside at our picnic table, we breathed deep the fresh air, looked up at stars and realized. . . you just can't get any better than this.


RVederci Kyle and Laura!

It was great to see Kyle, especially in such a ridiculously beautiful place. The time just flew by, wandering through the wilderness, and it was hard to say goodbye. But, Kyle and Laura packed up their stuff, hopped in the rental car, and headed South. They still had one more fun night planned in Jackson Hole, with some friends, before they had to catch their flight the next day. We thanked them both over and over for all the planning and coordination they did, but I still don't think Kyle understands how great it was for us. After seven months of planning, it was a vacation for us to just follow him around. And, because we didn't research the parks, each and every stop was a surprise. We got to be little kids, driven around to magical places, worrying only whether we had packed enough water and remembered the binoculars. Thanks Kyle!

And Laura! She also drove us around, picked some great trails, and made us kebabs. She was a fantastic trivial pursuit and pitch partner. She introduced us to a strange, but delicious, fermented drink that I still can't remember the name of. She's an ambitious girl, and we wish her the best for her Half Iron Man. Go Laura! We're rooting for you!

Mary Lou and Nicole took a few minutes to sit in the RV and feel it adjust to the two missing voyagers. We sighed deeply, commented at how quickly the time passes, and then jumped up to book another night at Mammoth Hot Springs. There was no reason we had to leave Yellowstone yet.

We decided to take the long way around to Old Faithful lodge, to see all the things we hadn't seen yet, and revisit some our favorite spots (like Dragon's Mouth!). We needed to use the lodge as a recharging station for all our many drained electronics. Just a few miles down the road, we had to stop for a gorgeous silver coyote, and watched as he pounced on frogs in the marsh. We stopped at Beryl Springs to get photos for my buddy Beryle. We stopped to see the Fountain Paint Pots - fantastic belching, spasming, flatulence-like geysers. We had cappuccinos brewed by a vacationing psychologist for troubled children, as we recharged all our batteries and watched another eruption of Old Faithful from the Lodge balcony.

We were going to sit and do some more work - sort the photos, write the blog, and such - but it was such a beautiful day outside! The week long rain clouds had finally cleared out, and the sun was shining bright in the big blue sky. We decided to go to Uncle Tom's Trail, a long, steep staircase down the canyon walls, to the Yellowstone River. After enjoying the view from the bottom, and climbing the 300+ steps, 500 feet, back up, we wanted more. We kept walking on the trail, not knowing how long it was, or where it would go.

The trail went to Clear Lake. It was rather clear, the numerous fallen logs visible far below the surface. While staring at the surface of the Lake, and debating whether we should keep walking, a couple passed coming from the other direction. "Don't stop now," they said, "the best part is coming up." Sometimes, the signs are so easy to follow.

We followed the trail around the Lake, through the woods, and onto the moon! The ground was white, barren, and pockmarked with craters. We smelled sulfur: geothermal events. There was no one around, and no fences on the trail. We could walk right up to the bubbling, hot springs and cavernous geysers, although we knew better than to get too close. We played "Lewis and Clark", pretending we were the first ones to wander into this strange, treacherous landscape (besides the Natives that had lived there for centuries, of course).

We hiked past Lily Pad Lake, which had only a dozen lily pads on it, but mosquitos the size of hummingbirds. A mile later, the trees cleared, and we found ourselves staring down into the Yellowstone Canyon. No railings. Straight down. And from the spot we were at. . . wow! Nicole was so overwhelmed that she had to sit down. Right up close next to the edge, of course, so she could look way, way down to the river.

Mary Lou left her there for fifteen minutes or so, while she pondered the smallness of her existence and the blink of an eye that was her life. Nicole only got up when other hikers started to peer over her shoulder, wondering what she was looking at for so long.

Another mile back to Artist's Point, past all the Japanese and clicking cameras, and to the RV. The sun was getting lower in the sky, and we decided to stop off in Hayden Valley on the way home, to see if we could catch any wildlife.

Holy crap. . . What a show. Next post. . . Carnage.


Mammoth Hot Springs and Cold Rivers

It was time to move the RV to our next adventure campsite, way North in the park - Mammoth Hot Springs. Since Kyle had been planning all the stays and stops, the Sottung girls had done no research and had no idea what to expect. It was fun that way. Lots of surprises.

On the road, we played yet another round of "Name That Jam!" There were about 30 people neatly lined up on the side of the road, super-lenses poised on tripods, waiting patiently for something. We looked up the hill, over the field, into the woods, but didn't see anything. "What are they looking at?" As we slowly navigated through the jam, Kyle shouted, "Oh! It's the Wisconsin Mascot!". He was so excited, he had to pull off, contribute to the jam, and get a photo of the badger. The girls waited in the car.

We stopped to let a mini-herd of bison ramble down the highway. Stopped to see Roaring Mountain, a full, rocky hillside spewing sulfur steam out of every crevice. Saw our first elk with big, fuzzy antlers. Then a giant rock dildo. Sorry, but, that's what it looked like. It's actually Liberty Cap, a dormant hot spring. But it looks like, well. . . you know.

We parked the RV at Mammoth Springs Campground and learned that campfires were allowed! Yay! We could have our first cookout that night. The campground host said we could find some great cuts of meat in Gardiner, Montana, just a few miles North, out of the North Entrance.

But first, we went to see Mammoth Hot Springs. "Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine in Yellowstone National Park. It was created over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate (over two tons flows into Mammoth each day in a solution). Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, their energy has been attributed to the same magmatic system that fuels other Yellowstone geothermal areas."

It was pretty. Orange and yellow steaming rivers bubbling over layered, pod-like pools. It looked like rusty marshmallow land. We had fun, but then decided to go pick up our campfire meat.

We drove to Gardiner and bought hotdogs and brats and fresh vegetables for kebabs. When we stopped to buy ice cream, the lady told us if we just waited for ten minutes, we would catch the parade. Everyone rode horses, dressed in their Western best, the Yellowstone fire truck came by, and there were lots of pack mules. And they threw candy.

As we were piling back in the car after a pizza lunch, Kyle said, "We could go rafting." Everyone was silent for a few seconds. "Yeeeeeeaaaaah!" was the unified response. We got back out of the car and walked over to the rafting shop right across the plaza. They were ready for us, and we were ready to go.

We squeezed ourselves into damp wetsuits, picked out close-enough-size, already wet, water shoes and headed down to the river. None of us had been rafting before, so we were all really excited! Mary Lou was worried that the Yellowstone River was too high and too fast, but "pappa-bear" our guide, assured us, it was safe. We got a quick lesson of proper sitting, paddling, and command taking and we pushed off.

Wheeee! The first set of rapids blasted us with icey cold water, but amazingly, it wasn't that numbing. It was totally worth it. We paddled through the rapids, each getting blasted by different whitecaps coming from all directions. We stared up at the passing mountains and caught sight of osprey nests in the trees above us. It was invigorating. And now, we could officially count Montana in our list of states visited.

It started to rain just as we got the campfire up to cooking potential. Laura made the kebabs and held the umbrella, while Kyle turned the brats, and Nicole ran back and forth to keep the wine glasses filled. Nothing like smoking your dinner! It was delicious and we followed it up with a rubber match of Pitch and some smores. Kyle would run out in the rain, toast the marshmallows, and bring them back inside where Laura had neatly laid out the chocolate on the graham crackers. We stayed up as late as we could, because the next day, Kyle and Laura had to head back to Jackson Hole and then catch the flight home the next day. Their vacation was coming to an end.


"Wolves! Wolves!"

The next morning, we all woke up at the buttcrack of dawn and drove far North into the park to reach Lamar Valley, the best wildlife viewing area in the park. On the way, just before crossing a bridge, we had to brake hard for a black bear crossing the road. We waited and watched as he lumbered down to the river and out of sight around the bend.

In Lamar Valley, the die hards were already parked up, mono scopes and telescopic zoom lenses mounted and ready, waiting for a glimpse of the parks latest and greatest attraction. Gray Wolves.

"Thanks to a controversial but very successful reintroduction program, wolves are now back in Yellowstone after an absence of almost 70 years. Several dozen wolves were captured in Canada and turned loose in Yellowstone In March 1995. Those animals have done remarkably well, reproducing at a rapid rate. Estimates of wolf numbers at the end of 2002 were 284 wolves in the Central Idaho Recovery Area, 271 in the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Area, and 108 in the Northwest Montana Recovery Area for a total of 663."

Radios crackled and a report came across that "the grays were headed toward the road". The rangers stopped the traffic, and we caught just a glimpse of grey streak across the road and up the hillside. We barely had time to raise the binoculars before the pair disappeared into the mountains. We waited for a few more minutes, but no sign of them. We felt lucky for seeing them at all, knowing how elusive they are.

We put on our hiking boots and backpacks, left the photogs in the parking lot, and hiked in to Lamar Valley. Before even a quarter of a mile, we stopped to survey the bison herd that was lounging in our path. They are the most dangerous things in the park, responsible for the most human injuries, so we wanted to make sure we gave them a wide berth. We cut our own path around them, and in doing so, came across the stark white bones of something big. They were scattered about, but we found a piece of every major skeletal system. Kyle named them all as we picked them up to examine their size and weight: "Lumbar vertebrae, femur, rib, scapula." The scapula was three times the size of Kyle's head. We kept looking for the trophy head and antlers, but couldn't find it.

As we pressed on into the valley, we noticed two antelope, fully alert and staring at us. They were definitely on guard as they ran ahead, before stopping again to check us out. "Are they scared of us?" we wondered. We scanned the valley behind them, but didn't see anything else following them. It must be us. But ten minutes later, as they bolted up the hillside that we were traversing, Laura pointed at the horizon, "Wolves!"

A pair of them, silhouetted against the horizon, trotting along. They paused for a few moments, to check us out, before continuing up the hill. Kyle urged caution, but Nicole wanted to race up the hill to get a better viewpoint to watch their journey. They were long gone by the time we reached the top of the hill. We didn't see them again, but through the binoculars we did spot what could have been their den, dug out at the peak of a hilltop, overlooking the entire valley.

We saw wolves! We were thrilled.

On our way out of the valley, we kept an eye on the wolf den, waiting for any movement. But as we paused to check through the binoculars, a low rumbling made us all stop dead in our tracks. Thunder? The ground under our feet was shaking. An earthquake? "Is it an earthquake," we asked each other with startled glances.

The sound grew louder, the earth shook deeper, as the bison crested the ridge above us and came charging down into the valley. Adults and calves, about 30 of them, in a full run, looking amazingly agile for such large beasts. We stood still, in awe, and glad we weren't in their path. But as they reached closer to the valley floor, we heard the steady sound of more hooves approaching on the ridge above us. There was nothing we could really do. Nowhere really to go. Nothing to hide behind.

The second group of bison crested the ridge, much closer to us than the first. Our hearts were beating hard. The lead bison saw us, though, pulled up short, turned and led that section of the herd around us. More and more bison were racing down the hillside, detouring around us. Maybe two hundred of them. A stampede all around us.

We scanned the hillside, looking for the reason they would stampede. We didn't see any predators. But we did see a few 'guide bison' at strategic points along the route, waiting for lagging sections of the herd. Adults would turn around and wait for little ones and nudge them to encourage them on. Was it just a training exercise for the little calves? Was it simply rendezvous time down in the valley? Whatever it was, it was incredible, and we followed the last stragglers down into the valley, unscathed.

The last section of the trail, leading back to the parking lot was still littered with resting bison. Kyle made us climb up the steep hillside to avoid them. As we slid back down the hill, we found it - the trophy piece from the earlier discovery! The bull elk skull. With giant antlers. It was bleached white by the winter and the sun, but when we flipped it over, there was still red, muscly stuff around the jaw. We all took turns posing with our find, before someone commented how freaking awesome the thing would look mounted on the RV. How fitting, to be able to ride back into Pulaski with such an impressive elk skull guiding the way. . .

Our excitement didn't last long, though, as we were all reasonably sure that the park's policy was "Leave No Trace". Leave nothing. Take nothing. Surely, we weren't allowed to keep it. And surely, if we tried to sneak it out, all the wolf watchers, with their super-powerful lenses, would spot us. "How much is the fine, you reckon?"

We left it, sadly, and trudged out of Lamar Valley. We were still talking about the skull as we pulled onto the main road. We hadn't gone 100 feet when Kyle slammed on the brakes. A gray wolf was standing right on the side of the road. He gave a quick glance in both directions and crossed right in front of us. Right there, in front of us. He trotted down into the marshy valley, and disappeared into the sage brush. But not before we got a few great photos. We could now officially cross the gray wolf off our wildlife list.

We also added 'bison stampede' to our checklist, and then crossed it off.

Click here for photos!