DAY ONE - Friday, July 22


My 12 straight days of puppy viewing earlier this summer was so great, I cannot resist heading back to the Park for more. But work duties keep me busy later than expected, so I do not get on the road until 7:45PM.

Iím glad I have A/C in the car because the thermometer reads 93!

I make great time over the pass. But just outside Livingston a deer tries to get me to kill her. I see her just in time and hit the brakes. I have trained myself to always expect more Ė there is rarely only one - and sure enough, her fawn shoots out of the willows. She bolts across and I miss her by a few feet! They both reach the other side safely but everything in my car goes flying!

After catching my breath, I drive on and pull into the lot with all the souvenir stores. I re-pack everything that went to the floor. Luckily, no disasters and I soon get going again.

I rarely travel at this time of the evening Ė approaching dusk Ė and this is exactly why I donít. As a result, I am on extra sensitive deer watch all through Paradise Valley. I see a lot of them, and elk too, grazing close to the road but luckily none decides to cross. My windshield gathers a lot of smashed bugs, too, making it harder to see than usual.

When I finally get to Gardiner I clean my windshield and call Laurie to let her know my progress. I tell her not to worry. Iíll take my time and be safe.

I resign myself to the fact that I will lose the light soon. That happens mid-way through the Blacktail, but mercifully, there is very little traffic.

As I enter Little America it feels a bit spooky. Itís very dark and there is no moon. I am all alone in this wild and wonderful place. All the watchers are gone and it feels exciting to be by myself with the animals. I just wish someone else could to the driving!

I begin to notice glinting in my rear-view mirror: headlights from another vehicle quite a ways behind me. As it gets closer I formulate a plan. I pull over at Longs and wait for the car to catch up. For the few moments I am stopped I can hear the bellowing of bison all around me but cannot see them. It makes me grin.

Finally the vehicle passes. Itís a large panel truck, the perfect candidate to serve as extra eyes for bison in the road. I pull out and follow it. The driver is holding steady at about 35, so that works for me. His brake lights come on a few times but nothing makes him stop. This truck guides me safely all the way through Little America and into the Lamar.

Itís so dark I hardly recognize certain places until I am past them. I miss the Soda Cone completely! But I keep following the helpful red tail-lights.

Somewhere around Baronette a cottontail rabbit dashes across the road. I hit the brakes again and once again, things go flying! The rabbit is safe and I am safe but now Iíve lost the truck, so Iím on my own again for the final 10 minutes.

Boy, am I happy when I see the northeast entrance!

I arrive in Silver Gate just after 11PM. Laurie is still up, working on her note and I tell her of my adventure. I unload the bare necessities and head off to bed. Glad to be here in one piece!

Today I saw: bison, deer (both white tail and black tail), elk, horses, a rabbit, and the spirit of Allison

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