Yellowstone area, but my protective and motherly instincts were on overdrive for most of our adventures. From swimming in a brisk (freezing cold) lake to hiking up and over some arduous terrain with nothing between the kids and the bottom of a mountain, I was on high alert. Since we hiked a few paths less-traveled than others, bear repellant was a necessity. I learned the valuable lesson to never let an 11-year old carry the backpack that happens to hold the bear spray. No matter what sort of sense you might consider common, know that your child might accidentally unleash a spritz of the bear spray inside the rental car. I had no fear that the spray would be of limited effectiveness once I felt the burning sensation from a whiff of the cayenne pepper extract in my eyes, nose, and mouth.
A trip to Wyoming isn’t complete without experiencing the Teton County Rodeo. The same cowboys and cowgirls
who work as ranch hands at the horseback riding outfits convene upon the fairgrounds in the evenings to let off steam and show off their skills. I’ve never seen a cowboy ride a bucking bronco in person, but you get a real appreciation for the strength and stamina it takes to hold on when you’re sitting in the stands. We whooped and hollered as the cowgirls turned out their horses for the final sprint in the barrel racing event and held our breaths then cheered as cowboys rolled out unscathed from the crushing hooves of irate bulls.
As Marylanders, we were surprised to see ospreys nearly everywhere we went. By the side of the road, atop utility poles in town, in deep forests and on mountains, we noticed the telltale nests of ospreys and the birds flying overhead, catching fish in the rivers, and feeding their chicks. We stopped at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to look down nearly 1200 feet to the falls and river below, and immediately spotted a sprawling osprey nest at the very bottom of the canyon. On many of the lakes and rivers, big white birds floated peacefully. From a distance it was difficult to tell whether they were migratory pelicans just stopping for the summer or resident trumpeter swans that call Wyoming home year-round. Magpies, golden eagles, great blue herons, and a few pairs of sandhill cranes rounded out the species we added to our birdwatching lists.