Category Archives: Wyoming Life

Ski Term: Crusty Undertoad

crust·y un·der·toad

/ˈkrəstē/ˈəndər/tōd/

Noun

The frozen layer buried under just enough fresh snow to make you think it’s safe to make a turn.

(Undertoad: A bogeyman, or in general, fear and anxiety about the unknown and mortality. From “The World According to Garp”.)

Termed by me after wiping out on the Crusty Undertoad.

Lil’ Bastard

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

I used to think raccoons were cute… Until the little bastard moved into my backyard.

In Fall 2012 we lost our 14 y/o lab. When she was alive we did not have stray animals, wildlife, or people in wander into our back yard. Last summer, at O’Dark-thirty, a neighborhood cat was at our back screen growling and hissing at Tigger, who was growing and hissing back. That was just the beginning. Tigger is our 15 year old cat, since he came to our home as a kitten he has been an indoor and fenced in backyard only cat. One evening last June, around dusk, he ran in the house so fast he bumped the screen, he hopped up on the sofa, his tail fluffed up like a raccoon, looked around the room with wide eyes, ran over to me, stuck one paw in my lap, and softly said one “meow” like it was a question. That is strange behavior, even for Tigger. I got up and looked into the back yard and didn’t see anything. I closed the door for the evening,remembering the time a magpie chased him up a tree, I thought it was probably a big scary bird.  In hindsight I think one single soft meow must be cat for “WTF”.

Every summer I decorate my back deck with potted flowers and other decorations so it is a nice relaxing place to have an after work cocktail and inviting for friends. I usually have a bird feeder for Tigger’s entertainment, this year I added a larger one, which the birds were eating quickly. I’d wake up in the morning ant the feeder would be half empty with feed scattered everywhere. A few nights after Tigger’s odd behavior my husband said the birds were making a lot of noise eating the seed at 2am. 2am??? Still, I didn’t connect the dots.

A week or so later we had a big lightning storm blowing in, about 11pm I turned on the back deck light to see if it was raining yet, I saw something under our patio table moving, it turned its head to me and the unmistakable face of a raccoon was looking back at me! Holy cow! Raccoons?! This is a first for my part of town. Cute little bugger in a destructive sort of way. Thinking about it, we have an empty dog house, a bowl of water, bird feeders, and potted vegetables in our back yard. Everything a homeless raccoon family needs to set up house.

The next day I went directly to the Game and Fish to borrow a trap. They only had one size  but it looked plenty big for a raccoon. It was heavy with a seemingly foolproof trap door with solid walls. Several people visiting the office at the time had opinions on bait, cat food, leftovers, and marshmallows were all recommended. That night I set the trap, bated it with cat food and bird seed hoping to catch a raccoon, not a neighborhood cat. The next morning I looked out the back door, like a child looking to see if the Easter Bunny came, but the trap was untouched. This went on for a couple weeks, he didn’t even come back for the seed from the feeders. I think I must have scared him (or her). Our neighbor said their dogs killed a small one and they have seen the big one. Another neighbor said they trapped one also. By now I had switched the bait to PB&Js and marshmallows, and just when I start thinking the raccoons were are all gone I woke to see a closed door on the trap. YAY! I went outside to proudly look at my catch only to see an empty trap with no bait.



I named it ‘Lil Bastard’ …

Apparently I was NOT a Wyoming Mountain Man Trapper in my previous life. The trap I borrowed from game and fish was too small (failed to trap lil bastard) so I dropped $80 on a coon-trap from the local ranch store. This one was a large cage with a trap door. I put it in the grass and baited it with a PB&J. The next morning the trap had not been snapped but the PB&J was gone. Lil Bastard reached through the bars and pulled it out that way, my bird feeders were also emptied. The next night I used marshmallows and made sure they were in the middle of the cage, in the morning the bait was gone and the trap still didn’t snap. I have only succeeded in keeping Lil Bastard well fed with PB&Js, marshmallows, humming bird food, and bird seed. I even provided Lil Bastard with a drink of water. Lil Bastard probably walks away from my yard, tummy full, sayin’ “Suc-kaaa!!!”

I looked at the failed trap and decided that putting the trap in the grass was the reason the trap was not snapping. It looked tike the weight of the animal was pressing the trap into the ground and blocking the mechanism that releases the trap door. So that night I put the trap on the sidewalk leading to my back deck, which happened to be under our bedroom window and the guestroom window where my mom and her dogs were sleeping. Just after 4 am the trap snapped and we had one very pissed off raccoon, what a racket! Lil Bastard woke the entire family trying to escape from his cage. After a while it was clear he wasn’t going to give up on escaping so my husband went outside to move the cage to the other side of the house. I looked out the window and watched him pick up the cage, Lil Bastard lunged and growled at him, feisty little bugger.

The next morning I went to examine the fruits of my hard work. I felt a little bad for Lil Bastard, he looked frightened and tired from fighting the cage. That morning my husband took him for a ride to the forest, near a creek and away from people, and let him go. I caught Lil’ Bastard’s cousin several weeks later. Since then we have not seen any more evidence of raccoons. Hopefully that will be the last of them.


A Grizzly Encounter

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

DISCLAIMER: This was not a safe situation, we should have not let anyone out of the car until we knew what the animal was. Bears are wild animals and unpredictable and will attack without warning, don’t try this at home!

Last week I had two friends, Vicki and Kirsten, visit me in Wyoming. We all grew up in Azusa, California together, played flute in the Azusa Aztec Marching band in High School, and we were all in the class of ‘79. The three of us now live in different states and although we have seen each other over the years the three of us have not been together for 25 years. We spent the weekend in Yellowstone National park, the whole time chatting away like teenagers except the conversations were not about cute boys and shopping malls, they were about the men in our lives and the woes of pushing 50.

On day two of our trip we were getting a little disappointed we had not seen the usual amount of wildlife. Vicki and I have been to Yellowstone together several times but Kirsten had not been there since she was a very young child, and for this visit she had her son with her. I was beginning to think all the big animals were hiding from them. That afternoon, between Tower Falls and Canyon Village we topped a ridge and there was a critter jam, traffic was stopped, we could not see the critter due to the angle of the hill. There was a crowd running with their cameras down the road in a frenzy. I let Vicki out to go see if it was something worth stopping for. I figured it was a bison or an elk, maybe even a moose, I told her if the traffic started going again I would pick her back up on the way through. She was gone several minutes, more than enough time to see what it was and come back. I saw a parking spot in the pull out on the other side of the road, only a few yards away so I took it. Kirsten and I got out and told the kids to stay in the car until we evaluate the situation. I had just closed the car door and was adjusting my camera when I was Vicki running to the car, full speed, making the cut sign with her hands across her neck, then she put both hands around her mouth and shouted as loud as possible “GET BACK IN!!!! IT’S A [BLEEPING] GRIZZLY!!”

Vicki had seen the bear and wanted to get a quick photo before she came back to the car. She said it was close to the side of the road, she aimed, zoomed in, and took her shot, just as the bear started walking towards her. She thought ‘what am I doing’ and turned to run. The crowd would not move out of her way, here comes a grizzly bear, only a few yards away and NO ONE was running except her! She pushed the people out of the way, regardless of age, and ran to where I let her out of the car. She said it was just like a movie, she was running for her life and the car was gone!!

All is well, she found where I had parked and we were all safely in the car. We looked out the window and watched the crowd running along side the road, chasing the bear for photos. We waited until they passed then Kirsten and I got out, lagging way behind the crowd, and saw the bear from a safe distance, with plenty of food, I mean people between us. Kirsten got her photo and we left before we witnessed something we would rather not see.


It reminded me of a song…

The other day (The other day )
We met a bear (We met a bear )
Out in Yellowstone (Out in Yellowstone )
A-way out there (A-way out there)

The other day we met a bear
out in Yellowstone a-way out there.

Vicki aimed the camera
At that bear
She zoomed right in
A-way out there

Vicki aimed the camera at that bear
She zoomed right in a-way out there.

He said to her
“Why don’t you run?
I see you ain’t
Got any gun”

He said to her “Why don’t you run?
I see you ain’t got any gun”

And so she ran
Away from there
But right behind
Her was that bear

And so she ran away from there
But right behind her was that bear

Ahead of her
There was a crowd
A great big crowd
And so she plowed

Ahead of her there was a crowd
A great big crowd And so she plowed

But Julie moved
That great big burb
Holly crap!
Where is that burb!

But Julie moved that great big burb
Holly crap where is that burb!

And so she ran
Across the road
Telling us
It’s time to load!

And so she ran across the road
Telling us it’s time to load!

The moral of
This story is
Don’t get out for bears
In Yellowstone

The moral of this story is
Don’t get out for bears in Yellowstone

That’s all there is
There ain’t no more
So what the heck
You singing for