Find Me Where the Wild Things Are: Yellowstone National Park

I stood, silently still, at the forest’s edge just a mere hundred feet away from the wolf’s illuminating eyes and shining black coat.  I peered into her soul, unafraid and invited.  We were connecting and nothing else mattered in that moment in time….

“I’ll be there for you…” ♫ – my alarm clock blasted the Friends theme song.

I opened my eyes with strange feelings of confusion and disbelief, “What just happened?”   Did I dream that insanely real moment?  Ugh, I didn’t want to wake up.  I’ve been DREAMING of seeing a wolf in the wild for SO long (they’re my favorite animals – if I must choose).  Every beat of that dream felt so alive within me and its vividness stuck in my mind as I began my day; I was unable to shake its realism or the excitement it stirred.  It lived on, deep down in my core.

 


 

Lamar Valley

Photo Jul 05, 12 38 36 PM

This was my second time visiting Yellowstone National Park and, even though I had spent time here prior, there was still SO much more to see (this park is MASSIVE).   During my first trip, four years ago, we were unable to make it to Lamar Valley.  Thus, I was STOKED to finally explore her this go-around.  After all, I had heard that this is the land of the wildlife – the “Serengeti of North America“.

Driving through this vast valley, it took no time at all before we spotted several herds of grazing bison.  Encompassed by rolling mountains and abundant with lush grasslands and water aplenty, the valley is a thriving wildlife paradise.

A paradise, unless…

You’re being hunted.

With a healthy habitat, comes a healthy continuation of the great circle of life.

Upon our peaceful watch over the herd of bison, we spotted (wait for it)…

A lone gray wolf stalking a baby calf.

What color was this wolf?

You guessed it: BLACK.

To say I was stunned and in utter-awe is an understatement.  I could NOT believe that the  lifelike dream I had been replaying in my mind had come to fruition.  I was less than a hundred yards away from this incredulous creature, running alongside it as it made countless attempts to move in on its prey.

With mixed emotions, wanting the wolf to eat but also wanting the calf to live, I soaked in the events like a sponge.  When the wolf snapped its jaws at the calf’s leg: all my hair stood up.  When the mother and bison family banded together to ward off the wolf, protecting their calf with such solidarity: my spine shivered.  I was a part of this spectacular WILD moment – one that I thought I’d only see via watching NatGeo on my television screen.  And, I was living my dream.

Before this moment, I questioned the practice of manifestation and all its magic (seemed to be a ton of “too good to be true” hoopla).  However, this instance – among many others along this particular journey – made me a firm believer.  The magic in the air was palpable, consuming my spirit.  It was comparable to an out-of-body experience. I felt like I had become part of this wolf who visited me in my dream last night and… this was a continuation of the moment before I had awakened.  Chills.  ALL OVER.  Tears of gratitude welled in my eyes.

“What have I done to deserve the universe conspiring on my side like this?” I wondered amid all the beauty.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

 

 

In the photos above, you can see the wolf carrying her catch-of-the-day.  Though the fallen small critter (I believe it to be a prairie dog) was no bison calf, the wolf seemed satisfied as she pranced along.

In the photo on the right, you can see three bison in their shield formation as they protect their calf in the back (lighter brown-colored guy behind them).

Today, the bison were victorious.  Had the wolf not been alone, perhaps their luck would’ve changed.

Peep the short video clips below to see a few of the bison we encountered in Lamar Valley along with a clip of the wolf.  These are just tidbits I captured with my iPhone.  FULL VLOG to be released SOON! 🙂

 

 

 

 


 

A brief explanation as to why this dream was no coincidence (if you so feel that way):

I dreamt of a BLACK, SOLO wolf the night before.  Most wolves hunt in packs.  The fact that I, indeed, saw a lone wolf of the same color the VERY NEXT MORNING was too weird to be coincidental.  Furthermore, the dream was too real – too tangible – to be minimized as an accidental, chance occurrence.  The dream was alive and I felt spiritually connected to this wolf (above other animals I have encountered).  I recognized her, immediately.  Call me crazy *shrug*.  I just knew it was REAL and that it meant MORE.  I knew this was the wolf I encountered the night before.

Moreover, I had actually told both people with me on this journey (Doug and Nate) about my dream that very morning BEFORE the event unfolded in real life.

Are you a believer? 🙋‍♀️

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  Have you had a similar experience?  Do you believe in manifestation? Do you think it’s a mere coincidence, you skeptic you?

 


 

After witnessing countless bison, antelope, deer, elk, a wolf and even a coyote… we moved onward to Yellowstone Valley.

Yellowstone Valley

YELLOWSTONE3
Photo snapped by Doug Michaels on his GoPro

“I’m going to see a Grizzly.” I repeatedly told myself as we ventured around Yellowstone Valley.  I am, after all, a newfound believer in conscious manifestation and was putting it to the test.  (Upon reflection, I’ve come to learn that I’ve been practicing these principles long before knowing what I was actually doing – long before knowing the impact and effect they had on my life).

We hiked down Yellowstone Canyon, marveled at the falls from various viewpoints, and …grew tired of the people around us and WITH us.  Together, we had been traveling around the north and west for quite some time now and right around this point along our trip, the agitation arose.  Nate, Doug and I were spatting; Angry at one another for an array of things and angry at the bustling, inconsiderate tourists we encountered in masses throughout.  We needed a break.  We needed SOMETHING to snap us out of it.

I closed my eyes, in frustration, and began to see the lone black wolf once more.  This time, I WAS her.  I saw my surroundings from her point of view.  Providing me with clear insight and perspective, I vowed to move past all the trivialities and negativities.  I would be better than this and I would enjoy each moment to the fullest.

And, I was..and, I did.

Whenever I look back upon these photos, I reminisce on the impact this place had:  I simultaneously lost and found a part of myself there.  Nature has a way of forcing you to confront your inner nature.  It has a way of changing you, bettering you – if only you open your heart and welcome her ways.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

Photo Aug 03, 1 42 11 PM


 

Que:

The Grizzly Sighting

Photo Jul 06, 9 13 05 PM

“Holy shit! It’s a GRIZZLYYY!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs while dashing towards the field where the bear moseyed along the pine-line.  Close enough to the overpowering creature, I stopped in my tracks with my mouth fully agape.  Tears streaming down my cheek, I felt nothing but pure joy and wonderment.

The universe was, indeed, blessing me with such profound gifts; These gifts in which I ached and yearned for for months on end while struggling through my tiring, over-civilized and unfulfilling job (the film world can be brutal and I was discontent and displeased with the show I worked on for the first half of the year.  I’m sure I’ll open up more about it in the months to come).  With that said,  this whole journey felt like the earth’s greatest reward to me.  Every step that led me to this, was absolutely worth it.  Perhaps, just perhaps, my unwavering longing and need for these natural connections is why they were gifted to me in the first place?  Oh, the universe works in mysterious ways and never ceases to amaze me!

We spotted Sir McGrizzles (so I call him) on the other side of the Yellowstone Canyon / Lower Falls Lookout parking lot.  We followed him for a while – probably longer than we should have.  At one point, Nate parked the car in a housing area and Doug and I walked down a trail in hopes of getting a closer (but not too close) look at him.  We saw him wobble (he was SO LARGE he seemed to WOBBLE with each step, carrying ALL that weight) towards those buildings and knew he had to be within that vicinity.  Nathan later expressed his concerns by saying..

“For the first time, as you and Doug walked down that trail in search of the bear again, I thought to myself ‘one of my good friends is going to get eaten alive by a wild animal’.  And I truly still think that will happen one day”.

I chuckled and shrugged.  There wasn’t much more for me to say because it could very well be true.   But I knew it wouldn’t be this day, in this instance.  We were, by no means, “too close” to the bear NOR were we ever intending on provoking or startling him with our proximity.  Doug and I know what we’re doing.  Nonetheless, accidents can always happen.  Thus, there’s a possibility that one day… Nathan’s words will hold true.  It’s a fate I will accept.

Shall I go by the paws or jaws of a wild creature, you shall always “find me where the wild things are”.


 

Beyond all the incredible wildlife, which we continued to see and marvel at, we equally delighted in all the natural wonders that Yellowstone National Park beholds. Such as…

Mammoth Hot Springs

MULEDEER
Photo by: Doug Michaels

Yet another destination we had not explored during our first adventure in Yellowstone, I was happy to see these other-worldly grounds this time around.  Here, the earth seems so uninviting and dangerous as if it would swallow up any being that dare crosses its path.  Low and behold, a brave mule deer did just that (seen in above photo).  The waters here are not as hot as those in Norris Basin but nonetheless,  you get a feel of Yellowstone’s eeriness.  The fact that Yellowstone is renowned as the most powerful super-volcano really sinks in.  I’ve heard Mammoth Hot Springs described as looking like “a cave turned inside out” and I couldn’t agree more with the analogy.

 

Amid the endless hot springs and geysers, its easy for Yellowstone’s guests to question “Should we bother seeing them ALL?”.  It can begin to grow monotonous.  However, whatever you do, DO NOT miss seeing the Midway Geyser Basin and its treasure…

Grand Prismatic Spring

Photo Jul 06, 6 18 55 PM

To this day, I still can’t believe what my eyes saw upon visiting Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park’s Midway Geyser Basin for the first time in 2015.  Not only is she the largest hot spring in the U.S. but she’s also the third largest in the world.  Even more, the most impressive feature she boasts is her crazy vivid + dazzling colors – orange, yellow, green and blue.  JUST LOOK AT THEM!  And YES, they’re that intense and bold in person, if not more!  In reminding me of the inside of a large jawbreaker I use to eat as a kid, I stood and gazed at her as I felt her emitting heat and basked in her glory.  Grand Prismatic Spring is entrancing and, in my humble opinion, should be considered a world wonder.

Being my second time here, I made sure to take advantage of the other view offered of her: the hike above the basin (photo’d above).  It’s an easy 1.2 mile hike up a hill and provides you with a fuller view of her varying colors and immense size (still be sure to check it out up-close, as well).

YELLOWSTONE4
Photo by: Doug Michaels

 

Now, no trip to Yellowstone is complete without visiting …

Old Faithful

Photo Jul 06, 4 55 26 PM
Photo by: Doug Michaels

With Old Faithful’s viewing area being the most accessible and visitor-friendly in the park, it is (needless to say) overwhelmingly populated.  BE SURE to get to her “showing” early to snag a good seat/view.

Even though I can’t help but despise super touristy areas, Old Faithful is something everyone must witness when there.  Erupting anywhere between 100-180 feet, its power is a force to be reckoned with (spewing between 3,700-8,400 gallons per eruption).

Besides, my disdain towards touristy crowds lessened as we sat beside the sweetest elderly couple and chatted with them for 30 minutes or so.  We exchanged advice and experiences among our national park travels and even wow’d them with some of our technological devices (like our GoPro).   This encounter brought about a renewed faith in mankind and “tourists” alike.   I walked away from my third Old Faithful experience fulfilled and grateful.


 

 

Along our drives back to our campsite in Cody, Wyoming, we were repeatedly greeted by more and more wildlife: Bison, Elk, Mule Deer, Antelope, Prairie Dogs and more.  It got to the point of one of our travelers saying, “Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  I don’t care to see any more”.  This struck a nerve.

Let me ask you (if you’re a dog lover), are all dogs the same?  Is your dog “Sparky” the same as your dog “Molly?”.  I’m guessing your answer is a big, resounding “No”.

So, what makes anyone believe that one bison is the same as the next?

To quote Disney’s Pocohontas (as I told you in my bio, I’m a HUGE fan)… I believe:

“…every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name”

I will always advocate for wildlife and will always, ALWAYS believe that each one is special and deserving of all our love and admiration.  I can FEEL their individuality and, upon looking into their eyes, see that each one has a unique soul.  Why must people treat animals as if they’re merely objects?

If my wildlife encounters have taught me any thing, they’ve taught me this: Every creature is different and every creature deserves to be respected.  They’re ALL miraculous beings and they’re all an integral part of this world.  Their innocence is humbling and their way of life is the best teaching. There is so much to be learned and gained by surrounding yourself with the wild and by connecting to each creature, each place, each plant.  They ALL belong to the earth.  This world is THEIRS.  To me, I love nature more than humans and I fight, every day, to love humankind as much as them.

I left a piece of my heart in Yellowstone National Park this past July 2019 and I left a piece of my soul eternally connected to that lone black wolf.   To this day, whenever I close my eyes and summon my memories of her, I am transported back to Lamar Valley.  I am transported back home roaming the Serengeti of North America through her eyes.  You’ll forever be able to find a part of me…

Where the Wild Things Are

in Yellowstone National Park.

 


 

WHERE TO STAY AND WHAT TO DO?

Looking for places to stay, last minute, near Yellowstone?  We’ve camped in both Cody, Wyoming (this trip) and Dubois, Wyoming (in 2015).  Both towns are incredible and contain such varying, stunning landscapes and an abundance of recreational opportunities.  Discover and hike the Wind River Range and walk the lands of the Sheepeater Tribe in Dubois – even spot some secretive, hidden petroglyphs (DM me to find out where and how to find these). OR, have a riot RTV-ing among the deserted mountains in Cody, WY (via Tread n’ Trails) and go star gazing in Buffalo Bill State Park (just outside of Cody, WY).

Message me for more info or stay tuned for future blog and vlog releases.

 

 

Short TikTok video of the three of us RTV-ing with Tread n’ Trails in Cody, WY…

 

 

 

Much love and happy travels,

Mindy

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