The kids have a list of wildlife they want to observe while vacationing in Wyoming and Montana. Yesterday, we headed out to Oxbow Bend in the Grand Tetons to look for what has become the don't ask me how priority on that list - a river otter. Katie got some insider tips from locals the day before that pointed us to this location. And oh, they told us we should get there early. So shortly before 6AM yesterday morning we bounded out the door for our first ever family river otter hunt.
After a quick trip through the McDonald's drive through, which by the way was the first sign I'd seen that we weren't as far away from home as it had begun to feel, we headed for our spot. This particular location was also a noted early morning photo opportunity, so I wasn't surprised when we arrived to a large crowd. Had I not been aware of this, I might have been tempted to think there was a real river otter following in these here parts.
When we got out of the vehicle, we were greeted by a park ranger who was directing everyone away from the nearby lake and surrounding brush. I asked what was going on. A man carrying a large camera and tripod, who was anxiously following the commands to fall back, told me there was a grizzly bear in the brush. I didn't have but a few seconds to process what exactly that meant before the ranger's voice became louder and more demanding - like the voice of an officer ushering folks away from a crime scene. The grizzly had emerged.
The bear headed up toward the road and near cars that were now parked there, many of the drivers now out taking pictures. This didn't make the ranger any happier, I assure you. The bear wobbled its way across and then up a hill on the other side, eventually disappearing.
Hey Ian, we just saw a grizzly bear. That's better than finding a river otter any day isn't it?
Cold, blank stare.
We proceeded down to the lake, coincidentally through the brush formally occupied by a grizzly bear. The timing of our arrival wasn't lost on me. The whole a few minutes earlier scenario dancing in my head. Down by the water we ran into some folks who said they saw river otters the night before playing in the water. Shortly after,we thought we saw one pop up out of the water. It wasn't playing, and he was alone, but he did surface long enough for Katie to take a picture that when zoomed in could be identified as an otter. Or a large bass. It doesn't really matter, since Ian isn't willing to check it off his list yet.
But we did check grizzly bear off, whoever was crazy enough to have it on their list in the first place.
Just follow that screaming ranger's advice and no one gets hurt here.
Who invited all those people to my house anyways?
One thing's for sure, the photography opportunities at Oxbow Bend were indeed endless.
And the boys loved them all.
I loved the shorelines full of reflections.
So many experiences. Just glad I had a helper to offer material for ongoing updates.