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Wildlife in the West

I wasn't quite sure how to approach the topic of wildlife for this post. We saw quite a variety of wildlife during our time in Colorado. We saw very few animals during our time in New Mexico and Arizona.

While we were staying in the YMCA camp our friends took us on a couple of day trips to nearby places of interest. One day we went to Bear Lake which was pretty close to where we were staying. The water was a beautiful blue and there was still snow on the ground in a few places near the lake.


As we were driving to the lake we had our first glimpse of elk and we also saw a magpie. We had seen magpies in France before and of course we remembered Heckle and Jeckle from our childhood. 🙂


On another day we drove into the Rocky Mountain National Park and went up nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. We saw many elk from a distance and while we were eating a picnic lunch some very friendly elk came pretty close to us.


We also were fortunate to see some moose. We saw some from a distance and then we happened upon a female standing quite close to the road.


When we were pretty high up in the mountains it actually began snowing a little and we got a picture of a few flakes that landed on Rob's shirt. He wanted to "enjoy the cold" so he didn't wear a jacket.


There were signs up at the higher elevations asking people "to respect the tundra" by staying on the paths which were provided.


Some very cute little animals who live at the higher elevation are the marmots. They look sort of like groundhogs and we saw several of them sunning themselves on the rocks. We saw one who appeared to be kind of a ham. He stayed out while many tourists were taking his picture and he kept turning to allow us to get shots from different angles.


We also saw wildlife near our cabin at the camp. From the porch we saw chipmunks, ground squirrels, and mule deer. Rob got this picture of a mule deer one evening when we went for a walk.


Late in the first afternoon we were at the campsite we went for a walk and talked with a couple who were staying two cabins away from ours. They told us that while they had been away that afternoon a bear had come onto the porch of their cabin and had gotten into their hummingbird feeders.

The next afternoon when we returned to our cabin we noticed the rangers were at the cabin next to ours. While the people were out in the afternoon a bear had broken in the screen in a window they had left open.


The bear crawled through and had made a real mess in the cabin. She had opened the refrigerator and had eaten lasagna and yogurt and had smashed eggs all over the floor. She had opened cabinet doors and had smashed in the microwave (apparently she couldn't open it without thumbs.) She had opened a jar of nutella and a jar of peanut butter. She took the peanut butter with her. When we arrived on the scene she was sitting behind the cabin eating peanut butter. The rangers kept trying to run her off but she kept coming back for the peanut butter. We later found out from the neighbors that she had two cubs up a tree behind the cabin.

Below is a video Steve captured of the bear not far from the cabin she broke into. If you are reading this blog post in e-mail or in a blog reader, you will probably have to go to the blog post itself to view the video. Be patient - it may take it a few seconds to load.

The next morning we learned that the bear had come back during the night. The neighbors had two cars. One car was locked and one was unlocked. The bear got in the unlocked car and just walked around a bit. She actually tore the door handles off of the locked car. We discovered that she had investigated our car but fortunately didn't do any real damage--just some minor scratches and some paw prints.


Before we started our trip Rob had opened a private Facebook account just for our family so we could tell our kids what was happening and post pictures for them. He named the account Rob and Becka's Great Adventure. Our friends Steve and Karen had never seen a bear at the camp before and they blamed it all on us for wanting an adventure. 🙂

We had one last encounter with wildlife when we returned to Steve and Karen's house. They had a friend dog-sit their little daschund, Nikki while we were at the cabin. In the early evening when we returned they let her out in the backyard and she ran to a corner and was barking her head off. There was a raccoon in the yard and he quickly climbed the fence and scrambled up a tree. Nikki even barks at animals on TV. Here she is in action:


In my next post I will tell about some of our adventures in Arizona.


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6 Comments on “Wildlife in the West”

  1. #1 Carrie
    on Jul 23rd, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Wow! How did you sleep that night?!

  2. #2 Vikki
    on Jul 23rd, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Sounds like a really fun time up there. Was the cabin very expensive?

  3. #3 Becka
    on Jul 23rd, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Carrie, we decided to park our car down near the park entrance that night, so we slept very well. The next morning the ranger told us that there had been a bear down there that night. 🙂

  4. #4 Marilyn
    on Jul 25th, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    I don’t think I could have joined you in the cabin that night – sounds like the get-away car was too far away! The word picture of the posing marmot ham made me laugh.

  5. #5 Becka
    on Jul 26th, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    We did have a wonderful time in the mountains of Colorado, Vikki. If you ever have a chance to go, take it. Here is the link for the place we stayed.

    The rates depend upon when you go and what size cabin you rent. You have to sign up early (our friends told us) and they don’t assign you to a specific cabin until you arrive. You sign up for a specific size but not a specific site. It is a lovely place though and I would highly recommend it. They have many free activities for all ages too, such as miniature golf, lectures, etc.

  6. #6 Deb
    on Jul 26th, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    So glad you had a wonderful time and didn’t get to experience coming face to face with a bear! I’ve never been to Colorado but would LOVE a trip out there!

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