Open Thread: Happy Thoughts

With all the recent (bad) news about Obama’s Interior ~ i.e. “All Hat Salazar” (thanks JimT)~ vindicating we cynics’ worst fears about the future of our public landscapes and America’s natural environment – the tone of this forum has been a little somber ~ kind of a bummer really …

It being Mother’s Day and all – let’s open this space for happy thoughts …

Desert Violet © Brian Ertz 2009
Desert Violet © Brian Ertz 2009






  1. Kathy Avatar

    Happy thoughts…I’m trying…really I am. Nope, can’t find any. Sorry.

  2. Virginia Avatar

    I will add a happy thought. We went to Yellowstone for Mother’s Day at my request and watched a large group of buffalo mothers with brand new (looked like it anyway) calves. I wish I could post a picture but I don’t know how to do that on this blog. They were so cute and I put a spell on them that they would survive and thrive. It was truly an animal day, as we saw three moose (not in the park however, but close) a fox, coyote, only four wolves (Druids, I believe), many elk, deer, antelope, one young grizzly and a black bear.

  3. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Last evening I had an incredible experience. We were closing up the golf shop where I work about 8:30 . . magic hour for animals when I looked up and saw a full grown, German Shepard size, bobcat just standing on the driveway. It moved over to some nearby bushes and sprayed. Then I moved towards it a little and we had the old stare down. . it finally turned and made sure it showed me the white under it’s tail in sort of a one finger salute. . at least that is how I read it. The animal was so beautiful with an orange upper coat and pure white belly and inside of it’s legs pure white with black spots. The back legs were longer and it looked like a cheetah body . . fast even standing still. It’s eyes were almost glowing and it’s face was full and healthy looking. What a gift.

  4. Salle Avatar

    I have a couple happy thoughts too. Just got back from a day in Yellowstone NP and saw a total of six bears. A trifecta at Round Prairie where a sow with two cubs, yearlings, were out milling around.

    At the east end of Junction Butte there were about a dozen Big Horn rams grazing right near the road while the ewes were up on the very top of the butte.

    There were lots of bison babies everywhere.

    Saw one black wolf, for certain though I was sure there was another near-by lying around in the grass in upper Lamar. Heard howling near the Druid’s den, some from a long way away over the ridge across the river and some response from the den area but never saw any in that area.

    We saw a small black bear sleeping too close to the road between petrified tree and Garnet peak. Saw him in the woods just west of Tower Junction yesterday.

    Along the Gibbon there was a large, very light gray wolf truckin’ on down the snowfield along the upper end of Indian Creek just above Sulfatara. We tried to park and catch a picture as it passed by but by the time we found a spot and it was walking so fast that all we saw were tracks when we were able to get a good look! It wasn’t running but it was walking fast and watching behind it. Didn’t see anything behind it though.

    Just north of Twin Lakes there was a bull bison and a good sized grizzly bear having a “face-off” in the meadow. We were able to get some reasonable shots of the two. The bear was very wary of the bison bull and was eating as much grass as it could in a hurry before the bison bull chased him off in our direction, at which point we made a hasty departure back to the car. Thank goodness for strong long-range lenses!

    It was a great day in the park, lots of folks were out with their moms enjoying the first warm day this spring.

  5. Leslie Avatar

    I will add happy to these thoughts too. Went to YNP through the NE entrance, the first time I could get through this year. The morning was just incredible. The Lamar was full of teeming life. I saw about 5 wolves, I watched up close to the road a black wolf pull a fish out of the river and eat it, watched a grizz next to the road rooting around for over an hour, bison babies, wolves howling and a coyote responding, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, eagles, you name it. What a magical place! I had a great mothers day, especially watching all those Bison moms! Oh and there were several moose along Chief Joseph and I came back to Sunlight and there’s a pregnant moose next door–well, she lives in the willows. Mom’s rule.

  6. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Coyotes and turkey vultures benefited from a dead deer on my property. It was killed by the sheriff as it had a broken hind leg. The coyote may have been carrying food to a den, I watched it carrying a large piece for about 300 yards before it went into the woods.
    Rains in early May nearly refilled the vernal pools; life saving for the tadpoles and newt youngsters after a very dry spring here.

  7. Ken Cole Avatar

    I broke two parts on my dad’s roto-tiller today. Does that count?

  8. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I need to go to Yellowstone with you guys. I never have that kind of luck with bears or wolves. 🙁

  9. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Spent a nice evening at Craters of the Moon ~

    Pics for the interested

  10. John d. Avatar
    John d.

    Wilka and Sassy from the Dingo Sanctuary and Research Centre in Toolern Vale, Victoria bore litters late last month.

  11. Hoosier Avatar

    Sitting at the airport as we speak waiting to board a plane on the way YNP!!! Only a couple of hours to go:)

  12. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    The Idaho Legislature just adjourned. They didn’t give us much to be happy about, but not having to read about them for 8 months makes me very happy.

  13. Virginia Avatar

    Salle and Leslie – we must have all been in the same places yesterday – wish I could meet up with some of you!

  14. vickif Avatar

    I got home rather late last evening. I spent the day in the Poudre Canyon. It is an amazing place, full of spring time green. I was able to see new butterflies, deer, eagles (fighting mid air over a chipmunk), marmmots, a fox….but the best part was spending the day enjoying all this with my kids, and my niece and nephew.
    If you reap what you sow, I am trying to sow a whole crop of nature lovers. I can say I have sewn quite a few. What a joy the day was.
    For any of you who have an opportunity to visit Colorado, the Poudre Canyon is a must. It is sadly a threatened river, and it is also an amazingly scenic place to visit. Hiking off road is a plus. The area boasts bear, coyote, deer, elk, big horn, fox, cougar, many birds (blue birds are my fave), numerous trout (gold medal water), moose, and many others. If rumors are true…a wolf or two may be around also.

  15. Leslie Avatar

    ProWolf–It was mother’s day, so of course!

  16. Layton Avatar

    maybe I can agree here for once.

    The day was great, took my wife, my son and his girlfriend, three dogs and a picnic up to the lake.

    The day was beautiful. The fishing was lousy — who cares — the dogs ran and swam until they were completely pooped.

    We forgot a spatula to turn the hamburgers — a couple of sticks worked tho’. The dogs tipped over the potato salad, we got sunburned and tired. The boat was a total mess when we were done.

    All in all it was a GREAT day!! 8)

  17. Jeff Avatar

    I’m surprised Ralph hasn’t posted one of the many articles floating around about the grizzly in the Snake River Canyon south of Hoback Jct. It was feeding on a moose carcass too close to the road and eventually G&F moved the carcass due to its proximity to the highway and the young bears less than friendly behavior towards the motorists who stopped to watch…Anyways we spent Mother’s Day floating the Snake River Canyon, but no bears were sighted, only eagles and osprey, a beautiful day none the less.
    Here is a link to one of the articles-

  18. Kathy Avatar

    Happy thoughts were not with me at my first post, however, Mother’s Day was my best in a long time. Wasn’t in Yellowstone, but wildlife was abundant: eagles, coyotes, a moose, Winnie the Pooh & Tigger, two mice (Mickey & Minnie), and a lot of adult sized two legged critters with dazed faces chasing after their smiling and laughing little critters. Disneyland is 20 minutes away for this annual passport holder. We dashed over just for breakfast & a trainride; home in time to read on the patio with breaks to watch the seabirds fly overhead.

  19. Pronghorn Avatar

    April and May are my “big” work months, having spent April in 5th grade classrooms doing a presentation on MT noxious weeds, and May out on open space leading the same kids on field trips. Last week one of the kids on the native plant hike told me (speaking of the wildflowers), “I used to pick these flowers all the time, but now that I know how important they are, I’m not going to anymore.” That made me smile. Today I had a rowdy, all-boys group who, in spite of their unending rowdiness, would frequently burst out with “Arrowleaf balsamroot!” “Shooting star!” “Yellowbell!” “Buttercup!” as we hiked along and they recognized the plants they had just learned about.

  20. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Went on a 600 mile motorcycle ride. Friday was kind of cold heading east. The notable event was the member of the Idaho Senate whose pick-up was sporting the licence plate Senate 35 passing me in a 65 mph zone, which I was doing, like I was going backwards. What a clown. Sunday however was extra ordinary nice. Saw Elk, deer, hawks etc. etc. all from the road driving by. Beautiful Idaho Day.

  21. JB Avatar

    Boy, you westerners make me jealous! I haven’t seen a wolf, coyote, bear, elk, or mule deer since my last YNP trip. Just goes to show what a remarkable place it is.

    My wife and I spent her first Mother’s Day with our son, just enjoying a day in the life of an 8 month old. Oh, and I got to watch the Red Wings beat the Ducks! Go Wings! 🙂

  22. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I need to get up to YNP soon, I am getting withdrawals. Luckily I am near major antelope habitat so I can tide myself over for a while.

  23. izabelam Avatar

    My 3 furry babies woke me up at 4:30 AM. Mom..pee time..grrrrrrrrrr
    Garage door broke -205 $ to fix.
    3 days to my trip to Island Park. I hope snow is gone up the hill to my cabin. A bear killed a moose not far from my place. I bought new bear spray!!!

    I am making a list of all animal sightings.

  24. Salle Avatar

    Well, if your cabin is near trees or up high, or on anything but a south facing slope, you might still have a rather large patch of snow to get through. Several of the ranches, even out on the flats in the Hebgen basin are either using loaders to get in or they haven’t come back yet. West Yellowstone still has snowbanks, they’re melting but still there and the park has a lot of snow in many places. It snowed flurries on me yesterday and Saturday there were a couple inches of new snow over the northern half of the park from Norris to Lamar. The lake wasn’t even looking like it might have thin ice when I went around the south loop.

  25. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    We finally got some green grass and the sagebrush and other shrubs are getting greener. Still not much for tree leaves. The snow on the hills around town is mostly gone. Soon we’ll be cursing the heat. 😉 Next weekend will be a trip up to see the wild horses and if antelope have dropped fawns yet. Does anyone know when wild horses usually have their foals?

  26. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Boy, you westerners make me jealous! I haven’t seen a wolf, coyote, bear, elk, or mule deer since my last YNP trip. Just goes to show what a remarkable place it is.

    JB, not a day goes by that I am not grateful to be living out west in the most sparsely populated state. 🙂

  27. Nate Hobbs Avatar

    Over the weekend a friend of mine discovered a great horn owls nest on his property last week upon visiting it today we found it split in half with one of the owlets huddled against the base of the tree on the ground 20 feet below.

    After calling IDFG and reciving no enthusiasm from them about coming and helping the birds out..they told us that they usually ‘let nature take its course’ we decided to give them one last chance at life and built a new nest that they can use. I figured that they had everything to gain and nothing to lose especially with no nest and the high winds we are having right now.

    It was really great to help out wildlife on such a personal one on one level, and I really really hope that the mother will accept our efforts and not abandon the clutch.
    for pictures and a story line of the event head to a blog entry about it all here,

  28. Virginia Avatar

    Nate – thank you so much for sharing that story. I will be checking to see the outcome. Why do the “powers that be” always use that excuse of “letting nature take its course” when they clearly interfere with nature when it is politically convenient for them?

  29. Virginia Avatar

    Another happy thought – Casper Star Tribune reports a judge has refused to dismiss and break apart the lawsuit accusing federal land mangers of giving livestock grazing and energy development priority over protection of sage grouse habitat across millions of acres of public land in six western states.

  30. Virginia Avatar

    To add more gloom to the happy notes, this morning the Casper Star Tribune reports that Sen. Tom Coburn has attached a measure to the credit card company regulation bill to allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. I wonder if Sen. Coburn (OK) has ever even been to a national park.

  31. Chuck Avatar

    I see where Rex Ramell has announced his intentions to challenge Butch Otter for Govenor of Idaho.

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Brian Ertz