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Where the Wild Things Roam - Wyoming

jackson17

One night at a bar, a drunkard approached me and posed an intriguing question. "If you could be any animal, what would it be?" No hello - just this question. He immediately scored points for originality and for me the answer was simple. A bird! Complete freedom of flight and observation from numerous perspectives (the ground, sky, trees, buildings...). Always important to view life and people from many different angles. However, in the wide-open fields of Wyoming people aren't searching for delicate birds. They come seeking big beasts like bison and moose, and they're easily found. Throughout the Jackson area you'll see people standing with binoculars in hand, hoping to scope out wildlife. If you look closely at this photo, you'll see a pack of bison in the distance. Next, the wild side of Wyoming!

1. Bison sometimes come very close to visitors, but unfortunately I only saw herds from a distance. Here's a photo where a small part of the herd is standing right in front of the barn I showed you in my first Wyoming post. The bison here seem docile, but they're sometimes very aggressive towards humans. More people are injured in America's national parks by bison than bears or other animals that are perceived as more dangerous.

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2. I came across a black bison all alone in the middle of a sage field. At first, it's very hard to locate him in the bushes with his dark fur, and I had no telephoto lens to draw him closer in the frame. But he's standing there by his lonesome at the height of mating season. Poor guy! Bison are North America's largest terrestrial animals. Their size mass in person is impressive, with their heads alone weighing several hundred pounds. With this immense head weight, the species has the strongest shoulder and neck muscles of any animal. Their heads serve as plows in winter, clearing large snow masses and paving walking paths for the herd.

Despite their great size, bison are frail in some respects. After mating season, males are particularly vulnerable to death as cold winter temperatures quickly arrive in Wyoming. Having expended tons of energy mating, many become exhausted making their way through huge snow masses. Death from too much sex! Perhaps any man's worst nightmare. :)

The other thing I learned is that bison are prime prey for wolves. I couldn't understand it at first given the large disparity in size, but I underestimated the cunning nature and mentality of wolf packs. Completely fascinating animals, chasing the bison in circles until they become exhausted and collapse. This dance with death can last up to nine hours. Wolves - necessary to read more about them. It was surreal to stand alone in an open field with this huge animal. I had no escape plan in the event he became aggressive and charged, but alas I'm alive so all went well.


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3. Moose are easier to find, and you'll immediately know if one is sitting in the wetlands or fields. There will be tons of cars parked on the shoulder of the road, large masses of people, and photographers with their tripods. At one stop, I came across one of your fellow countrymen, or at least a Russian speaker. I asked if she spoke English, but she just stared at me so I assumed the answer was no.

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4. For a city dweller, it's amazing to see these large beasts in their natural environment. The moose population in Wyoming is in serious decline, with a 70% drop in the population over the last 15 years. Game officials are perplexed, unsure of the cause but the recent decline is attributable to a brain-worm parasite in the region. By comparison, the moose population in neighboring Colorado is thriving yet in this area wolves are sparse. Thus, wolves are seen as another culprit for the Wyoming decline as they also prey on moose. The most impressive feature on a moose is the huge antlers, which can span up to six feet. A prized possession for hunters.

photo (25)

5. On many Wyoming roads, you're completely surrounded by wooded areas. If you keep your eyes open, it's easy to spot more gentle creatures like this pronghorn. They resemble deer, but with more distinguishable and larger horns.

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6. It's also possible to see beasts in a more confined setting - a rodeo! I debated whether to go, but this is the main sporting event for Wyoming. So, I took a seat in the stands and watched in complete confusion. The rodeo is a real spectacle, with different events one right after the other. The show started with bull riding. I don't understand how scores are calculated, but the time the rider stays on the bull is obviously most important. This was a small town, amateur show and most riders lasted only a few seconds. I envision these bull riders as real masochists, constantly being thrown from the animal onto hard dirt and jarred by bull horns.

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7. Numerous displays of calf roping, a real horror for animal rights activists. Rodeos, in general, a big target for those against animal cruelty. Here, it's simply a way of life.

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8. A skilled cowboy successfully roped the calf! Animal sits there, movement completely constrained by ropes. Perhaps it is animal cruelty?

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9. Classic Western advertising circles the rodeo pit. Coca-Cola - as a trademark lawyer I can inform you this is the most recognized and valuable trademark in the world. Wrangler jeans - is this brand known to Russians? Popular, cheap jean brand in the U.S.

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10. Outside the venue, vendors sell cowboy hats and other Western novelties. In the rodeo stands, I sat beside a British family with three young kids. All of them were wearing cowboy hats, completely entertained by the rodeo. On the other side sat a young Danish couple, in the middle of their American car journey through numerous Western States. For me, complete delight to see foreigners enjoying my country. I never thought foreigners would be drawn to Wyoming, but they were everywhere!

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11. Before the festivities begin, numerous riders carry the flag to the pit and the National Anthem is sung. The song and flag will appear at the start of any American sporting event. Recently I had an interesting exchange with a reader about the root of American patriotism. He suggested it's a form of propaganda, that we're all born with star-spangled eyes, taught that America is the greatest and best nation on the planet. This is not the case for me personally, and there's plenty of negative coverage about American policies everyday in U.S. media. However, politics and real life are separable in every nation. I view America in the context of other countries I've visited. For me, it's the most comfortable place to live, though not a perfect nation. I don't understand those who view a strong sense of patriotism as some type of disease.

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12. On the patriotism point, readers constantly ask me about the American flag. Why do people display it at their homes? Why is it hanging everywhere? The stars and stripes - a strong symbol of our nation. There are rules about how the flag should be displayed, cared for, and destroyed when it becomes old or torn. The only proper way to dispose of an American flag is to burn it in a dignified manner. It should never be thrown in the trash. Here in Jackson, and in most other American cities, old flags can be placed in boxes at local American Legion locations. This box sits in the center of Jackson. The Legions are composed of volunteer veterans who handle old flags and advocate for veterans' rights. I'll tell you more about the town and surrounding area in my next post.

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It's my understanding that Russian citizens are prohibited from displaying the flag. To an American, this restriction is completely alien. Some of you have told me Russians have no alliance to the flag of the Russian Federation because wars were not fought or won under it. This I understand. And what about the member of the American rock band Bloodhound Gang who recently made an obscene gesture with the Russian flag as a prop? Now banned from performing in the country. Completely disgusting behavior, but in a country that claims to have free expression rights it should be permitted. Same is true in the States, where American citizens burn or spit on the American flag as a form of protest. Or Arab nations, where citizens ignite and mock the American flag. As a patriot, such behavior I detest. But it's their right. As a lawyer, I'll say once again that I don't understand the laws of Russia or how they're implemented and enforced. You're free to express yourself, but only if such expression is in line with the moral and political majority?

Maybe a post on wildlife will be boring to some, but it's a huge reason tourists visit this region of Wyoming. If so, we can talk about pick-up lines, or debate whether flag desecration should be acceptable in any form.

P.S.: For those on Instagram, please feel free to add me for more travel photos and scenes from everyday American life. Same name - peacetraveler22.

Comments

( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
siberian_cat
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:34 am (UTC)
Different countries have different flag protocols and traditions, that's all. Some countries, like Germany or Spain, have two flag variants, government and civil, and citizens are not allowed to display the government flag. Consider the Russian flag as the government one. :) People still wear the flag colours on thir clothes or put stickers on their cars or carry the flags to mass rallies.

Flag desecration is also punishable in countries like Austria, Germany, or France. These countries apparently have no issues with the freedom of expression.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:54 am (UTC)
I tried to search for Russian flag laws, but couldn't find detailed English language information. To me the variances in laws and traditions are interesting. What do you think about the woman in the photo? Is she Russian?
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Aug. 12th, 2013 03:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 12th, 2013 02:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Aug. 12th, 2013 02:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - plushevii_zaits - Aug. 12th, 2013 05:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 12th, 2013 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
fesma94
Aug. 12th, 2013 03:37 am (UTC)
It is interesting that at the rodeo in Wyoming jumper wear a helmet, unlike Texas, where wear a cowboy hat only.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:12 pm (UTC)
In Texas, I believe the riders are more professional and highly skilled. Interesting to watch these riders. I can't imagine there are many rodeos in Israel! :)
(no subject) - fesma94 - Aug. 13th, 2013 08:15 am (UTC) - Expand
mybathroom
Aug. 12th, 2013 05:21 am (UTC)
Wrangler jeans - were the best jeans I wore but I doubt it were original American jeans.
Interesting story about the American flags.
Thank you, Shannon!
peacetraveler22
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:13 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! Your jeans were probably original Wranglers. This is not an expensive brand like Levis, so I doubt there are as many counterfeits.
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Aug. 12th, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 12th, 2013 02:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Aug. 12th, 2013 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
andrey_kaminsky
Aug. 12th, 2013 05:40 am (UTC)
I'm holy roller!
I'm in the mood to preach today. Here is a parable. Traveler, whose name was Shannon, toured many countries and has seen many miracles. But she never stopped and always tend to explore new cultures. Once she arrived in a new country. Climate, roads, architecture, everything was fine in this country. Perhaps the locals were eating too much garlic, but they compensated it by the highest courtesy and politeness. But one thing was that aroused curiosity of Shannon, it was weird hairstyles of locals. Many of aboriginals dyed their hair in front in the yellow color and the hair on the back of the head in blue. Shannon climbed a high mountain to the majestic temple and asked the old man, who meditated there, "Why are the hairstyles of people in this country so strange?" (Some say that this question was asked to the employee at the reception, and not to the old man, but I do not believe it). The old man replied: "What a strange question ... Yellow and blue are colors of our flag. You see, our country is beautiful, the people of our state have a thousand reasons to love it. Therefore heads of many of our citizens look so beautiful!" Shannon wondered and asked again, "But I am also a patriot. I love my country too. But I have no desire to paint my head in three different colors. Maybe your behavior is the result of culture or tradition? I think that patriotism is not enough merely to that the population of the country colored the hair " The old man stops smile: "Do you think we're bad patriots and only pretending? I know how the real patriotismit looks like! Our country is great!" ..."I just want to understand the reasons" - whispered Shannon, but the old man sent her away. (Some say that the receptionist did not give her a hair dryer, but I do not believe it) The end.

Edited at 2013-08-12 05:42 am (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:26 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm holy roller!
Yes, yes, I understand citizens of every nation display patriotism in different ways. A very common one is by waving or displaying the national flag. Some readers previously told me citizens can't do it in Russian homes, but in this post people showed me various flag regulations and it seems permissible. I'm not saying the American way is the only way, the main point was about freedom of expression. Your country claims it exists in the Constitution, but in reality the right to such expression is selective. Adherence to the rule of law in Russia is haphazard.
Re: I'm holy roller! - moonrainbow - Aug. 12th, 2013 02:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm a holy roller! - andrey_kaminsky - Aug. 12th, 2013 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm a holy roller! - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 12th, 2013 06:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm a holy roller! - andrey_kaminsky - Aug. 13th, 2013 05:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I thought it was original. Maybe it's a common pick-up line for men. :) I've never heard of this show, but it looks interesting.
(Deleted comment)
real_marsel
Aug. 12th, 2013 08:07 am (UTC)
The story of the flag - just obscene expression. Write a song about his attitude to Russia, supported miserable stupid people who suffer all the rulers. It will be right.

I would like to be a badger. Love them.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:16 pm (UTC)
Badger - it's a unique choice! Btw, have you ever traveled outside Russia, or do you have a desire to do so?
(no subject) - real_marsel - Aug. 12th, 2013 03:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
notabler
Aug. 12th, 2013 08:45 am (UTC)
Thank you, Shannon for very interesting post about completely unknown place for me. I like the scenery of Wyoming very much. We have very similar animals to bison and moose in various places of former USSR, particularly in Belarus, Google Translator gives me name aurochs for them. They were very rare, something about 30 left in wild. And we have elks, they are much more common, I used to meet them in Lithuanian forest very often.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:17 pm (UTC)
There are elk in Wyoming also. I'm glad to show you a new place! One more post from Wyoming on Wednesday with nicer photos of mountain scenery.
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Aug. 12th, 2013 02:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 12th, 2013 02:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
moonrainbow
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:37 pm (UTC)
Well, Wyoming hosts Yellowstone, and this is one of the most famous parks in the National Park system.
And since virtually everyone arrives in a car having made some 400 kilometers from the nearest big city with an airport, it can't be a surprise that they also travel around the state to see some local sights.
The landscapes are very beautiful and picturesque. Would you say you would like to live there for a period of time?

The flag discussion - well, most of us in Russia don't know the laws regarding the national flag anyway. :)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 12th, 2013 02:52 pm (UTC)
Famous AND America's first national park! I would absolutely live there, but I couldn't pay my bills and student loans with a job in the tourist sector. In many ways, I have a noose around my neck because of my doctorate loans. It's a real pity, otherwise I wouldn't be sitting at this desk job. Wyoming, one of the most beautiful States. I'll write one more post about Jackson, with more picturesque mountain scenes.
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Aug. 12th, 2013 11:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 13th, 2013 12:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sergey_usa - Aug. 13th, 2013 12:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 13th, 2013 01:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sergey_usa - Aug. 13th, 2013 01:06 am (UTC) - Expand
sergey_usa
Aug. 12th, 2013 10:46 pm (UTC)
Did you have a chance to visit the JH Fair? It lasts for about a week and there are so many thing to do :)
peacetraveler22
Aug. 13th, 2013 12:52 am (UTC)
I was only there three days, not enough time! You lived in Jackson? The whole time I wondered where the actual residents live. I saw very few condos, apartment complexes or homes. The town is completely flooded w/tourists and hotels, and I understand the actual population is less than 10,000. But what a beautiful State! I'll definitely return. :)
(no subject) - sergey_usa - Aug. 13th, 2013 12:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 13th, 2013 01:01 am (UTC) - Expand
qi_tronic
Aug. 12th, 2013 11:20 pm (UTC)
There is a small animal reserve area with European bisons near Moscow.

en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Prioksko-Terrasny_Nature_Reserve

In Russian this animal is called "зубр".

Maybe the next weekend I'll visit it with my family...
qi_tronic
Aug. 12th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC)
In fact it was a strange coincidence with your post that someone mentioned this reserve in a comment here:

olga-podolska. livejournal. com/199983.html

BTW this post itself is also interesting telling about a pyramid near Moscow built for healing purposes :)
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Aug. 13th, 2013 12:55 am (UTC) - Expand
_nevidimka
Aug. 13th, 2013 11:21 am (UTC)
Thank you for this interesting post.

To my shame I was surprised to find out bisons aren't totally extinct. I had this delusion they were gone for like half a century, as a stupid maths (hehe) study book told me at 1st grade, and I never even bothered to check. Few years ago I found out there are still small populations in Russian preserves, and now I see they still graze through American preserves aswell. Btw as I understand in Russia they're so scarce they're heavily protected andlive in areas where it's illicit to come unless you belong to the forestry. So there's no chance for the tourists to gawk at them, and the bisons swagger in the wild and don't even flinch when forest guards come close.

Concerning the flag, I don't think it's a misdemeanour to display it, at least I've seen it on at least a dozen private houses. Other thing is that such sights are usually treated at least with bantering, but mostly, like, "look what lunatics live here, displaying their flag and playing patriots!"
peacetraveler22
Aug. 13th, 2013 01:19 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you found the post interesting. Bison are really incredible animals! We have protective measures over animal control in the States as well. It's a real science studying ecology and wildlife, to ensure the balance of life and harmony is preserved in national parks and forests.

Yes, the flag cultures in America and Russia are very different! Like many things. :)
rider3099
Aug. 16th, 2013 03:17 am (UTC)
You know I really respect the patriotism of americans. Is it bad when people think that american nation is the best? That their country is the best? It's great!
It would be good for russians as well to be proud of their country.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 16th, 2013 02:06 pm (UTC)
So many readers don't understand American patriotism, and believe it's artificial or a result of propaganda. It's not the case - most Americans truly love their country, including me. And I've been to a lot of countries and have a frame for comparison.
amandakysses
Aug. 16th, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)
Is the plural of moose still moose? Ive always liked them. I like this trip. Have you ever traveled on the train? It is one of my favorite ways to travel. It makes me feel like Im in an old movie.
peacetraveler22
Aug. 16th, 2013 06:39 pm (UTC)
I've never traveled by train, but next time I'm in Europe I'll probably try it. I want to go to Belgium over the Thanksgiving holidays and visit the Christmas markets. Yes, the plural of "moose" is "moose," I checked. :) This trip was wonderful!
anna_sollanna
Sep. 23rd, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC)
Very interesting fact about a "burial" of old flags! Never thought that they shouldn't be thrown away, but treated carefully according special procedures...
peacetraveler22
Sep. 24th, 2013 07:15 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if every country has such procedures, but in America the rules are strictly followed.
( 54 comments — Leave a comment )

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