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the photo journal + misc. news of Emma Kisiel

FDRT Part 5: Antler Shed, Missoula & Coeur d’Alene

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We left Yellowstone on Thursday morning, after stopping at Old Faithful one last time to grab some souvenirs. On that first stretch of Montana highway, we had to drive through a huge storm for quite a ways. It was only at this point that I thought to contact Jim Phillips, the “Antler Man” behind the Antler Shed, which I’ve wanted to see ever since I found out about it in 2013. Even though it was such short notice (since I could never commit too far in advance to anything on this trip, as our travel time including stops was hard to know for certain), Jim got back to me and told me to come on over. We had a little mishap with the RV in Jim’s driveway, but he was wonderfully gracious and gave me a full tour of the shed. It is incredible. Pictures really do not do it justice. Jim’s collected 15,000 sheds over 50 years, and although he sold over 2,100 elk and deer sheds in the 80s to put three daughters through college, he has never bought an antler. He pointed out the weird ones to me and told me their stories – it was so fascinating.

On the way to Coeur d’Alene, we stopped in Butte to (talk to a person about our RV problem, and he stepped out of his home to help us even though he had some serious family stuff going on – really, Montana people are wonderful) see the statue of Auditor the Strip Mine Dog and in Missoula to have dinner at James Bar and walk Cody around. Missoula was not what I’d expected when we drove by it on the way to Yellowstone, but on the way home when we spent some time there I fell in love! No kidding, almost every person we saw stopped and talked to us (usually about Cody because he is so cute). They were so friendly. I’m so glad we got to stop. We were back at our Coeur d’Alene campground that night, in the morning we walked Cody all throughout town (right on the water – so lovely!), and then we went home! This is not the end of my pictures, though; I still have a post or two coming up…

FDRT Part 4: Grand Teton

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When we left our campsite at Canyon Village on Wednesday morning, we had several animal sightings one right after the other. Another herd of bison in the road, a trumpeter swan, and then a momma grizzly bear with her cub! We didn’t see bears (that my dad or I could remember) last time we were in Yellowstone in 2002, and we were really set on seeing them this time. It was awesome to be so close, and to see a baby.

Once we got in to Grand Teton National Park, we stopped at Colter Bay Village and went in to the gift shop, visitor center, and marina. We drove a bit further and stopped at Jenny Lake to walk around the lake and go into the (temporary) visitor center and the store. While we were walking, we saw a marten run across the path! It was so cute! It looked like this.

Next, we drove through Jackson to South Park, where I had found some trails where we could walk Cody. (Entering Jackson, we saw a fox running alongside the road with a long-tailed rodent in its mouth.) We did the South Park Loop, which was honestly one of the most beautiful spots of the entire trip. We saw a Barrow’s goldeneye duck on the water with nine or ten babies 😍 Traveling back north, we stopped in Jackson to eat at Hand Fire Pizza and I walked around to look at the antler arches. (Thought about this the entire time.) On the way to our last campground at Grant Village, we stopped for a view of the Tetons with the sun setting behind. I’m not much of a “mountains” person, but the Tetons are incredible. They are so huge and feel so close and so crisp? Perhaps that last part is the photographer in me.

FDRT Part 3: Yellowstone Northern Loop

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On Tuesday, we went from Bridge Bay to the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, which had so much neat old taxidermy, to the Storm Point trailhead. The trail was supposed to be a loop, but it was closed toward the end due to flooding. I feel like the out-and-back of it made it longer, but it was a good hike. My dad and I both felt sufficiently tired out when we got back to the RV. We were sitting in the front getting settled and Cody was looking out the back window at the road when he started to do his famous “boofing.” There were a couple bison crossing the road right behind the RV, so my dad and I jumped up to take some photos. There were three bison starting to fight and run, and they ran right down the trail we had just been on moments before! I can’t imagine how I would have felt if I’d seen them running toward me on the trail, bear bells on and my dad with bear spray in hand. (Also, at the turnaround point, where we were all alone since most people turned around quite a ways before the trail was flooded, my dad made me freeze and stay silent cos he heard a very close sound like a horse snorting, and I was like ummm staying here and being quiet is exactly the opposite of what we need to do right now?!)

We started our drive north and stopped to photograph some bison that were lying down close to the road. I got to use my zoom lens for the first time! I bought it just for the trip and it was pretty dinky, but I was glad to have it on more than one occasion. We stopped at Artist Point just to look around, then continued on, driving up and down Mt Washburn. Not surprisingly, the altitude really affected me. We went to look at Tower Fall and had planned on doing a short hike there, but I was feeling so crummy that we just walked around the general store and got back in the RV. On the drive to Mammoth there was a bit of slowdown and we were trying hard to figure out what folks were looking at, and when I pulled out my binoculars we got to see a coyote attacking a pronghorn! Well, it was chasing it around. It was pretty exciting.

In Mammoth, we went in to the visitor center, had dinner at the hotel’s dining room, and walked around the hot springs a little bit. We were both pretty pooped from a busy day, so we headed to our campground at Canyon Village. On the drive there, we saw a big herd of bison walking along the road! We stopped and took lots of pictures of them, and a bull elk that was walking along the other side of the road a little ways up. That was probably the coolest part of the trip up to this point. That and all the ladybugs I saw on the beach at Storm Point :)