Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 11- Mountain Lions and The Swiss

September 25th 2010

I woke up this morning around 7:45am and took Hanz for a walk to the end of the campground and onto a trail that went down to the water. It is so funny how he tries to herd rocks. For those of you who are not familiar with this, one of his many antics, he’s a herding dog and he always needs to have a job or be doing something. If you are outside with him and you stop walking for a second, he will immediately occupy this spare time with finding a rock to repeatedly pounce on, pushing it to the spot he deems right, and then pulling it back with his paws so that he can again herd it to where it “should” be. The first time anyone sees it they find it hilarious and I will admit it definitely still entertains me! When we were down at the river this morning he was hilarious because he was trying to herd these huge boulders which just would not budge. He would do his pounce-pushing and seeing it was ineffective, he would look up at me all excited with his ears up and his mouth open slightly panting, in what we call his smile. I say, Come on buddy! And he immediately trots on over to me, looking at me as if to say, Okay what’s next?! Although the prickers that are prevalent in arid areas such as this are a huge pain in the derriere there is one thing that Hanz absolutely loves about this type of ecosystem and that is the vast number of holes that are dug by burrowing animals. Maybe it has to do with how dry this area is coupled with the fact that it gets extremely harsh in the winter but it seems to me that everywhere you look there are holes that have been dug that lead to tunnels. Hanz loves to pounce on the holes and stick his head as far in as possible and ferociously sniff around for any sign of life for him to chase. Sometimes he will even start to vigorously dig at the ground, in hopes of gaining access to an unsuspecting animal below. This has not turned out to be an effective method for him though because I always tell him it’s impolite to destroy something’s home so he’d better cut it out. Chasing after a thrown stick usually satiates him.

You can still see the moon above the canyon walls in Lander, WY

Tyler and I did laundry today, which was very exciting as you can imagine. We went to the Lander Bar again; it is quickly becoming our favorite spot. When we got back to the Popo Agie Campground (pronounced Po-Poh-Zha) we hiked up along the Nature Trail that is by the main parking lot. It was a nice walk that started out across a hanging bridge that was about 100 feet long. Poor Hanz absolutely hated crossing it and he looked completely sadly pathetic creeping along it, his body super low to the ground and his nose franticly sniffing every slit between the various boards. I was extremely proud of him for making it all by himself though. Oh the things he will do because he loves us! There were many interesting interpretive signs along the way that talked about the vegetation, the differences in north- and south-facing slopes, and the wildlife in the area. This included telling us about Mountain Lions which are the greatest predator in the area. They tend to be active at night. Their hunting technique often consists of them sitting up in a tree or some obscure location and waiting for their prey, like a deer (or a human?!!), to walk by. Then they pounce on its back, making the animal lose its balance, and bite into its neck. They will eat the soft internal organs first and then drag the rest of the carcass to a secluded area, covering it with leaves and mud to hide it until they are going to eat it. Interesting indeed.

It started to get dark and in the interest of not tempting the mountain lions with a cute, furry little waffle dog like Hanz, we turned around and headed back to the campground.

Hanz in hunter mode

On the Nature Trail near the Popo Agie Campground

On our way back to our camp site we passed a couple about our age hanging out by a campfire. We bid them good evening and they had cool accents, which immediately intrigued me. I absolutely love meeting people from other countries! So long story short, we ended up hanging out with them that night. They had never had s’mores before and I felt some kind of American Ambassador urge to familiarize them with this iconic dessert. We spent the next few hours sitting around the campfire and talking, while enjoying our s’mores. Their names were (forgive the spelling, it’s probably wrong) Rolph and Clarissa and they were respectively a mechanical engineer and a graphic designer from Switzerland. They were from a willage (I LOVE the way German type of language speakers say the word village) about an hour from Zurich. They spoke a language I was mortified to be unfamiliar with (it’s one thing to say, Sorry I don’t speak that language, but quite another to say, I have no idea what is coming out of your mouth?!) but I was able to avoid feeling like an awkward American by just avoiding having to identify it at all. Oh god that’s so embarrassing! I mean, it wasn’t German and at one point Rolph identified it but it was something I had never heard of that started with an R. Oh well, sorry if any of you reading this are German Swiss and I’ve just mortally offended you.

Rolph and Clarissa spoke enough English for us to be able to communicate, although there was the obligatory gesturing that went along with a lot of our words, which made everything a bit funnier. It’s important to have a good send of humor when trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak much of the same language as you do. I was very impressed with them though, because they had somehow figured out how to rent an RV to drive from Denver to the northern United States, and then they, like us, were heading down south to California where they were going to fly home. Around 9pm, the moon started to creep up from behind the canyon walls surrounding us and since Tyler and I are now in the habit of going to bed early and waking up early we bid them adieu and fell asleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment