The Big Loop: Flora and Fauna
First item to note: Adam has a new camera. That camera is ideal for close-up photos. It also turns out Adam has inherited his mother’s passion for photographing flowers. As such, there are quite a few for you to enjoy! Our first experience with the beautiful wildflowers this continent has on offer was at Glacier Park, on the road just before you reach the park. It was, as you can see, a stunning day:
The rest of the flowers were spotted in numerous places – walking to lookouts, on the side of the road, in the parks, growing in peoples’ front yards – we’ve condensed the best below:
And this is one of my fave shots. No idea where Adam took it…
Okay, that’s enough flora. Time for the fauna!
For an Australian, sharks, spiders and snakes are animals you’re used to (if not quite comfortable with). You can avoid sharks by not going in the water, you can deter snakes my making lots of noise and you can kill a spider with your flip-flop (if you spot it). Over here, they’ve got very few of the animals we are familiar with. Instead, they have bison, goats, elk, deer, sheep, squirrels, porcupines and bears. It’s not only the bears you need to avoid apparently: all these animals (except perhaps the squirrels) need to be given a wide berth. Pity they don’t give you an induction for national park – we only found out about the need to keep your distance when Adam received a firm lecture after getting this too-close shot of a bison in Yellowstone:
Following this, we kept a more respectable distance:
Numerous were elk and deer (sorry, my ignorance is so bad I don’t know which is which!). They’re certainly not shy, and litter the side of the road in the same way kangaroos do back home. Adam had a close call on the way to Great Falls, so we tried to give them as much room as possible. These two were happy enough within a few metres of us:
And of course, these little fellas are EVERYWHERE, and they’re not shy either! One of them nearly climbed my leg, and if I’d had a crumb in my pocket I think he would have found it…
The most agile and gravity-defying of all we saw were the infamous mountain goats. These two were not the least fazed by the parade of cars and camera-wielding people following them on their grazing journey, When they were done, they simply leaped the vertical face next to the road and took off – this was taken out of our sunroof:
Last, but never least: the rambling bears. Fortunately we only ever saw these on the side of the road (I’ve no idea how we would have coped with finding one on the trail!) and the etiquette is to roll slowly past in your vehicle, leaning out the window to rapidly snap a couple of shots. We saw black bears, black bears with brown coats (yes, apparently the name ‘black bear’ is often a misnomer) and what we think were a couple of baby grizzlys:
They were keen to avoid humans and frequently vacated the area when spotted – especially when some people were stupid enough to get out of their vehicles and cross the road to take a photo – so we were treated to the sight of a lot of bear bums (hee, hee, hee). It was wonderful to see them in the wild, but we were reminded of their danger: a woman was killed on July 1 by a bear. Best admired from a distance, we think.