Category Archives: environment

camels, bison and bears, oh my!

I saw a camel in South Dakota, grazing on some delicious grass by the side of the road. An actual camel. No, it wasn’t a yellow-colored bison, and no, I wasn’t on anything–though it did seem like a hallucination.

Max and I are on a road trip with our friend Matt, who is moving to San Francisco. It’s only been a few days, but we’ve seen so many extraordinary things–sights so breathtaking that we each feel lucky to have experienced them, and then there is always something else around each corner. (No, the camel was not one of them. Camels should not live in South Dakota.) We went hiking in the Badlands on Tuesday, and one of the first comments I made upon beginning the hike was, “Wow, I really feel like I am walking on the surface of the moon–you know, minus the zero gravity and lack of oxygen.” Then Matt informed me that they say that the Badlands is the one place on the earth that most closely resembles the surface of the moon. It was really great. Then, on our way out of the park, we happened across fields just full of chirping prairie dogs! They were everywhere, poking their heads in and out, running over to others’ holes and having meetings, wiggling their butts at us while they ran up to the road and crossed to the other side. You can’t get much cuter than a prairie dog.

Devil’s Tower was amazing as well, quite surreal–you could feel the energy surrounding the place. We arrived around sundown, and it was so exhilarating to see the rock stand out against the fading sun and then the moonlight. So calm, so peaceful (and luckily there were no climbers there!). We spent Tuesday night in Sheridan, Wyoming, and after stopping off at the T-Rex Museum along the way, we made it to Yellowstone with just enough time to make it to the middle of the park before the sun went down. Yellowstone is so, so beautiful–words cannot really describe. We were unable to camp there this evening because all of the campgrounds in this part of the country are closed at this time of year, there is snow on the ground, and it gets into the teens at night.

Oh, and then there’s the bears. They’re all over! (And apparently in their “super-eating” phase, or hyperphlagia, as they prepare for hibernation.) About 3/4 of a mile outside of the park, I thought to myself, “It would be so great if I just saw a bear out there on the side of the road. Not 5 seconds later, there he was, about 500 feet or so in from the road, just ambling along, occasionally looking over at us. Wow. A real, live grizzly bear living in the wild. Awesome. Ok, and maybe a bit scary. When we told the ranger at the gate about it, he seemed pretty excited. Then we asked him about how safe it was to go hiking in the park because of the bears…and he laughed a bit and gave us the most disconcerting response. Basically made us even more nervous about the bears–without coming right out and telling us we could really get attacked. Hahaha (I laugh, as I write my final blog post.).

Not too long after we saw the bear, we came upon three bison just moseying along the road in the left lane. I never would have thought we’d get so close. Bison are huge animals! And they were right there, just walking along, minding their own business as we rolled past. It was unbelievable. How grateful we all felt to be so close to such majestic creatures, living in their natural habitat. Later, we saw what we believe to be a caribou, and maybe a wolf (and lots of deer).

Driving through the park at night was like driving through a silent film. The landscape was so incredible that it didn’t seem real.

Well, I’m off to bed now. We’re staying in Montana tonight, but will go back into the park to hike and see Old Faithful tomorrow. Here’s to hoping we don’t get attacked by bears or anything else!


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Filed under awesome, badlands, environment, road trip, yellowstone

Reason no. 2568 why I hate my school

Free tomorrow night? Need some inspiration in your quest for peace, justice and sustainability? Why not head over to the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment to join in the accolades for guest speaker Libby Cheney, Vice President of Corporate Support at Shell Exploration?! A peek at Ms. Cheney’s bio:

Before joining Shell in 2006, Libby was the Manager of Non-Operated Global Development Projects for ExxonMobil Development Company in Houston, TX where she managed technical resources and decisions for global projects totaling more than $25 billion in gross investment. She began her career as a Reservoir Engineer in Kingsville, Texas. Her background includes various assignments managing multi-functional teams for producing assets from offshore Gulf of Mexico to West Texas and California. Libby subsequently led an organization of 150 engineers and technicians in developing and optimizing onshore . In addition, she spent time as the Senior Strategic Planning contact for project interests in Russia, the Caspian Region, and the Middle East.

Think Cheney will come prepared to discuss Shell’s numerous human rights abuses around the world?  Not at this school.  It was only a couple of years ago that the Dean refused to allow a speaker from CorpWatch to make a presentation in the building about Coke’s participation in human rights atrocities and environmental devastation in India because a representative from Coca Cola had not been invited to tell their side of the story.  Claimed she wanted to support the “fair and balanced” approach, to have all sides of the story represented (while clearly making exceptions for corporate polluters and potential financial donors to the school).

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Filed under environment, environmental justice, human rights, michigan, truth