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Friday, October 2, 2015

A Place Calls Itself My Home

by Kathy Freeze, Guest Blogger

[This is an excerpt from a longer series by Kathy Freeze on her recent visit to Yellowstone. Here Kathy tells of her experiences on Day Seven.]

We all have a place that we call ‘home’.  A physical place with 4 walls, a roof and a floor.  A table where we share our meals, a place where we sleep, love and laugh often with those we dearly love and adore.  Then, there are those places that our spirit and our heart recognizes as our true Home.  A place where we feel like we truly belong.  This place calls to my heart with a subtle quickening of my pulse and the swelling of my heart as it expands to accommodate the increased blood flow.  It touches my soul and whispers in my ear, “I know you and you know me.”  It makes me keenly aware that I have never really felt as anchored and centered as I do in this place.

Some people prefer the big city lights and throngs of people all around them.  Some people prefer the oceans and the sandy beaches.  Some people prefer deserts.  Some people prefer their small city lots and well-manicured, landscaped lawns.  Some people prefer small towns and others prefer their country homes, with lots of acres separating them from obnoxious neighbors.  But me, I prefer only a very few of my most beloved people around me and the solitude of the animals and the mountains.  My senses are filled with the energy from this place.  There was never a dull moment, even when we were just sitting and watching and nothing was happening.  The energy from this place seemed to make the hair rise on the back of my neck as the breeze blew across the valleys and as I stood peering through my scope watching for wolves in Lamar Valley.

Imagining what will come over a hill at any moment was enough to make me want to stay in Lamar Valley the rest of the trip.  But, we only had a partial day left to spend in the park, before we needed to start packing and heading out the next day.

Headed into Lamar Valley early morning on Day 7, this pronghorn buck struck a nice pose on the hillside on another misty, damp, cool day.

My job today was to watch out the left-hand side of the RV as we cruised along slowly, determined to find the Druid pack.  Not far into the drive, I called out “*something* at 9 o’clock”!  I had spotted 5 pronghorn running like crazy on a far away hillside.  As soon as we were stopped, I grabbed my spotting scope and tried to watch as pronghorn scattered and zigged and zagged around the hill.  Before I could get fully focused, I swore I saw a light-grey wolf in pursuit as they topped the crest of the hill and then they were gone.  I wasn’t 100% sure of the wolf spotting though, as I knew that Pronghorn are the second fastest mammal on the planet, able to attain speeds around 53 mph.  So, it made the sighting questionable - after all, why would a wolf waste energy on chasing something they weren’t likely to catch?

We decided to move on and ran across another wildlife jam.  We were too late to see them, but the jammers had spotted the Druid pack hunting in the nearby hills and they were headed east.  We decided to head back west, find a spot, park and wait.  And wait we did.  After another hour or two, we moved even further east, near the Yellowstone Association Institute and heard from the crowd gathered there that there was a report the wolves had been spotted chasing a herd of bison and they were headed this way.  We waited & waited for the herd and/ or the wolves to top the hill, but they never did in the 45 minutes or so that we waited.

After spending over 4 hours in Lamar Valley and eating our lunch there, we decided to head back to the VRBO to start laundry and the packing.  On the way back, yep, another jam!  Passersby told us the Momma black bear and her 2 cubs, who had eluded our cameras the last 2 trips through this same area, was actually down at the river in the ravine and could be easily spotted from the cliff’s edges.  Sure enough, there she was, carefully, patiently guiding her young cubs across the rocks.

I guess the cub thought if he would stay close enough she would help him.

SQUEEEEEE!!!!!!  A BABY looking so ADORABLE and so scared to follow Momma into the water.  Some reassurance and a gentle nuzzle from Momma.

But she isn’t giving in.  Yes, we are going forward and you must follow if you want to live.  Doesn’t he look so vulnerable and cute huddled on his rock?  I want to hug him and squeeze him and call him ‘George’!

Momma heads out and leaves the youngsters standing there looking helpless.

The one to the left decides he isn’t going to be left behind, but the one on the right is still unsure of his footing and the rushing water.  He loses his footing and slips into the rapids.  The onlookers panicked, thinking he was going to be swept downstream and his mother was going to let him drown.  From my viewpoint, she never even looked back at him, and I never heard him frantically calling for her help.

After what seemed like an eternity, the little cub managed to get out of the most powerful part of the flow and made his way into the shallower area to join his mother.  But now, the little fellow on the left is afraid to move.  I guess he saw what happened to his brother and is rethinking his strategy?

Nope, still not moving!  But the other little guy is make some progress toward his mother, even if he is losing some ground being pressed downstream.

More rough water to cross and Momma has made it to shore, the little guy presses on.

He makes it to shore with Momma, who is still not looking worried and still hasn’t looked back, but what about his brother?

He’s there....can you see him?

There he is!  They are soaked but they made it and Momma acts as if she knew they would all along.  I admire this Momma -- she just taught her cubs a valuable life lesson -- you have to learn to be strong and survive on your own.  Or die.

The cubs spent a lot of time shaking off the water, stopping to paw at their ears, as they walked along this beach.  I must have taken over 100 photos, but I won’t post all of them here....just a lot of them.  ;-)

Such cute little guys! 

The only time I saw Momma look back at them.  She loved them enough to let them do it on their own.  

Wow, what a day!  


  1. Apparently I visited Yellowstone when I was a baby because my aunt was married to a park ranger, and they invited my parents to stay with them for a couple of days during the off season. Of course I do not remember any of this, so I would like to go and see it as an adult. I have spotted a bear that ran right in front of me once though.

  2. Thanks, Kathy, for sharing your beautiful photos and powerful writing. I think we have a lot to learn from Momma bear.

  3. J Hanna, it was a very spiritual journey for me. I highly recommend it, especially to people who love animals.

  4. Thank you, Aya, for asking me to guest blog! It's always an honor! Yes, we could all learn a lot from Mother Nature.