OUT­DOORS

Maryland Independent - - Sports -

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.

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