It is barely the crack of dawn here. Only the dawn doesn’t crack… in early summer as it is now, the dawn just creeps over the horizon instead. The warmth of the sun will find little fissures through the moist, cold ground mists and tall pine forests later into the morning.
We are just north of Yellowstone National Park and we are camped up in the forest reserve at Pine Creek. This reserve is deep into the forest, but I am told there are no black bears about yet so I am content to sit out at the forest camp table and talk of my experience here. It is so cold that I have watched the small camp gas bottle aquire its own coat of frost… who needs a gas guage.
What woke me to the languidly growing dawn was the sound of birds. For the first time since we landed on this continent I can hear them all around me and it is a lovely sound. I missed this morning carol. I didn’t realize how much I truly missed that sound.
The forest in the Canadian Rockies was not quiet, there are sounds to be heard there, but the birds perhaps have not moved into their short summer yet. Here they have and it is a much gentler song than in Aus. There are no raucous parrots or noisy kookaburra’s waking you, these sounds are soft and sweet with the occasional chatter of the squirrel to join the chorus.
Out on the prairie the eagle could still be seen high in the skies, hunting the little goffer no doubt. I have recently seen this mighty bird drop like a rock from the heights of the wind and tangle with a fighting goffer. The goffer lost and the eagles young ate that afternoon. Aside from these great birds I only saw seagulls and crows in our few days crossing the rolling plains of the prairie lands. Yes I did say seagulls … strange as that may seem as we are high on the central prairie plains plateau of North America where there are few if any trees.
Trees follow the watercourse here as at home, but they are absent on the rolling prairie. I guess the gulls live about the dams… silly birds. The watercourses are full of beaver, they build the dams to the disgust of the famers and the industry of the beaver is amazing. Like the platypus they are shy and hard to catch sight of but they are of course much bulkier than the fine lines of the platypus. What is amazing to see is where they have chittered away the trunk of a tree to build their dams… that is truly a mammoth task for any little guy, no matter how determined.
I realized yesterday that The Man and I have now had the privilege of enjoying the first three great National Parks in the world in our lives. Yellowstone in the US, The Royal National Park of Aus and the Banff National Park. We love these wild places.
We grew up on the very edge of the Australian Royal National Park and it was our playground, its waterways were our swimming holes and its bush, places to hide and explore. Perhaps this is what has influenced us most in our lives when it came to choosing how we would live, once growing and educating the vegemiters was done with. It is the wilderness places that draw us, it is here that we feel most comfortable, most content and I am complete in such places with my man at my side.
Overwhelming on this central plateau are American Mobile Mac’Mansions that tour the roads around here. The all-American holiday vehicle, they are everywhere and they are daunting to meet… they hog the roads at the very least and we find we look mostly for forest camps as the RV’s avoid these places, unlike the RV campgrounds and parks where they dominate. These beasts live on mains electricity and if that is absent, as in some, if not most of the forestry and provincial campsites available, then they start these monsters up at any given time in the day to power their needs and they are noisy bugga’s. The RVers over here also do not have a 5pm happy hour and sitting under the annex enjoying the scenery and sun is not a pastime they enjoy, it seems not to be a tradition as it is in Aus.
Self-sufficiency and silence do not go hand in hand over here. Few people freecamp, or are equipped for self-sufficiency despite their monster rigs. There are few freecamps actually but then what constitutes a free camp? We managed to find a couple of these none existent freecamps but they are few and far between. These monster mobile Mac’mansion’s crowd the car parks, they crowd the roads and it is common to see the sign ‘RV’s not permitted’ due to their unyielding size. It seems most people hire these things, or share them and accommodating them is a problem. They are not small, they aren’t even moderately sized… they are huggeeee…
It is these monsters I will remember the most of the American roads, it is an enduring image of a different type of holidayer to be found on the US continent.
Jan is an Australian author and writer. You can find our more about her publications at her official web site. Be sure to check out the reader discounts there.
You can discover more about Freecamping in Aus. at Freecamp Australia’s Facebook page.
Read the full travelogue of Jans adventures in the e-book ‘The Rockies and the Greater NW USA’ now available at Amazon for just $US1.99