Christmas Gift selection # 6 For 2017 – Your Very Own National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado

Note: This is a repost of one of our Top Ten Gifts for the discerning buyer originally published in December of 2013, a year that will live in infamy. In what has become a half-assed tradition here at The Institute we have been irregularly reposting these now famous gift selections at this time of year when we remember to do so, in a lame attempt to create a Holiday Tradition and mostly because we suddenly realize it’s Christmas time and we don’t have squat done as far as writing new stuff. It’s fun and we don’t have to spend the time taxing our limited sense of originality making that new stuff up. Enjoy.

Your Very Own National Park!!!

Here it is, your chance to own a National Park known the world over for its scenery and wildlife with no strings attached. That’s right, you would be the sole owner! Keep it like it is, Develop it, Scrape it and put up a better one, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. What an incredible gift this will make for that special person on your list. This National park has it all, towering majestic 14,000′ peaks, the mountains that scrape the sky, teeming wildlife populations that include huge free-roaming elk herds, black bear, owls, eagles, marmots and chipmunks, fish, 11 coyotes, some beaver, Bighorn Sheep, and a pika.

How can this be? you ask. Well what most people don’t know is that *The Institute has a real estate division that often contracts with the Federal government to dispose of property it no longer wants. We were contacted by the Department of Interior to conduct a sale of this National Park due to policy changes that no longer emphasized the focus on Nature and it’s attractions. Since the downturn and sequestering and the lack of attention to the American publics wants and needs it has been decided to liquidate some of our most popular Natural attractions to show our willingness to be fiscally responsible. While this may be disturbing to the few who actually like Nature it is an incredible opportunity for one of you, or a group if you decide to pool your lunch money, to own a huge part of American history, not to mention acreage.

This National Park, which we can not name at this time due to federal regulations, but whose initials are Rocky Mountain National Park, will be offered for sale beginning this week by closed auction. Opening bids start at $20.00 and will continue until we decide that’s enough money and close the sale. Since the Director will have the final say and this is a private sale open only to people we like or that have an impressive amount of money, foreign governments welcomed, any considerations made to the Director personally will be taken into consideration ( for clarification contact the Director at his private number, all offers confidential )  in deciding when to close the sale.

This sale includes the National Park, all 265,761 acres, it’s infrastructure including all buildings, roads, water rights, lakes, ponds and puddles and necessary fencing, any personal effects left by departing staff members, all wild life including any offspring born to said park wildlife outside the boundaries of the park, the food service court located at the visitor center on Trail ridge road, all other concessions connected to the park, anything with the name Rocky Mountain National Park on it, the right to charge admission to enter and set regulations regarding that visit, if you desire to continue allowing access by the public that is, the ability to retain any proceeds from the sale of items left in the lost and found department and other perks to numerous to mention.

Bidding begins at noon December 24th and ends at 12:00am December 31st. Winning bid will be announced January 15th, 2014. All bids are to be in cash or bearers bonds, presented directly to the Director of The Institute by the end of business on December 31st, 2013 and are non-refundable. The Director has sole authority to determine winner in case of tying bids. So here’s your chance to really suck up to the guy. Any inducements no matter how lewd will be entertained. Title will be conveyed by an act of Congress sometime in the future.

National Park bidding begins at $20.00

Take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity and bid early and often. If you aren’t successful on this property there is the possibility that two more properties are on the block for later disposal. We can’t disclose which two but think Big Ditch and Geysers and you’ll be close.

Merry Christmas everyone!

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

First Day of Spring

Oooooh Mann Does that feel good. I can’t believe I’ve been wearing this coat for like five whole months. We need a bigger clothing allowance if the honchos here at Yellowstone want us to look good when the season starts. I cannot wait to get this raggedy old thing off. It feels like my fleas have fleas.

It’s the first day of Spring and people are gonna be coming around looking at us and I feel like I just crawled out from under a bridge. Oh yes, right there. That spot has been making my teeth itch since the middle of February. Oh,k,k,k,k. I’m going to do this until June maybe even July.

The first day of spring is a time for celebration as it usually means good weather, new stuff to eat, time to look around for some of that winter kill. I am famished. Humans have it made. They can just take off their winter coats with a quick pull of a zipper and put on tank tops. Not us, I got like 12 more hours of scratching just to get the tangles out and then who knows how many days of squeezing through the oak brush to get my comb on. But I will look good. After all check me out. Even looking like this you know you want me.

Alright, the first day of Spring. I’m out of that smelly den.  After five months that’s enough to gag a man’s hinder. The suns out. I got the scratching tree first, looks like it might be a good year after all. Gotta run, well actually I gotta scratch and I need to concentrate here. Catch you later over on the flip side of Mt. Washburn. Where all the cool bears hang. I’ll be the one with the shiny new coat. Have a good one. Write if you get work.

P.S. Yeah I know I’m a little fuzzy in the picture but the guy taking the picture kept getting in my space so I had to back him up some. Apparently he was a little nervous after I ate his wrist watch and he didn’t hold the camera steady. And he was quite aways back and under his truck so I guess I can cut him some slack. You can decide how you want to handle it.

The Art Of Snarling


An important lesson in a young grizzly cubs life is the art of snarling. There is an etiquette to it. A time and place where it is acceptable behavior, and first and foremost, the actual act of snarling itself. How to hold your mouth, what kind of stance you should take, the volume, intent, sincerity, all these things have to be learned, then practiced endlessly until perfected.

This cub has just been informed that it is soon going to be nap time and like all kids he doesn’t need a nap. He’s not sleepy and definitely wants to stay up, winter or no winter. Mom says you’re going to take a nap whether you want to or not. Mother grizzlies do not have long conversations with their young about what she wants them to do. There is none of this convincing stuff, or cajoling, or offering to take them to Wally world if they’re good and take their naps like good little grizzlies. She just gives them a swat, picks them up in her mouth and stuffs them in the den. The “don’t come out or you’ll really get it” is understood.

But this is a young grizzly and some defiance is not only understood but expected otherwise it wouldn’t be a grizzly, it’d be like a black bear. No, no, no, not that, not like a black bear, defiance is definitely called for. So drawing on the limited knowledge of snarling etiquette the young bear moves the proper distance away from mom which is the swiping range of that big front paw, turns its head slightly to the left and emits a low growl and forms the proper mouth position. This is not the equivalent of a full-blown, foot-stamping, screaming in the aisles, tearing open the candy bag, type of snarl. That would get it a shot across the snout that would knock it half silly. This is the “I don’t want to go to bed yet” snarl. It’s been done well, mom pretends she didn’t hear it and the youngster has just completed his first successful snarl.

It’s feeling pretty good about things right now so it wanders off to snarl and growl at the grass and the opening to the ground squirrels hole, and it’s really wishing a magpie or even a raven would come by so it could really give them a good snarl. It would go up the hill a little to give those boulders what for too, but actually it’s feeling a little sleepy and mom is digging up that ground squirrel and maybe it will just go down there and lay down and watch her. Just for a minute. Not to take a nap. Just to rest a minute. Then it’ll get up and really snarl a bunch.


You Don’t See That Every Day


click to enlarge

As our Inspection tour of Yellowstone National park proceeded in an orderly fashion we began inventorying the bears, both grizzly and black, the next step on our check list. This is a task we look forward to each year. We found that there were the appropriate number of each type scattered throughout the park and all seemed to be pulling their own weight.

At each new bear sighting we would release one of our costumed interns (see this post for details on costumed interns: ) to test the bears reaction to prey animals and sure enough the bear, mostly the grizzlies, would immediately approach the screaming intern and take the necessary action required.

This bear, who the park service refers to as bear #609 or something like that, because ‘they don’t name their animals’ according to one snooty ranger, but we refer to as Tyrone, reacted differently to our frantically struggling intern and obviously put off by the interns pitiful cries immediately jumped in the Yellowstone river. In all our years of inspecting Yellowstone we had never before seen a bear react this way. Like jump into the freaking river, you know? This was definitely irregular behavior and we are certainly going to include it in our report.

We had been following this bear for about two miles as it made its way over hill and dale observing it closely from a distance of about ¼ of a mile, noticing that it was acting in a manner that was out of character, or as we call it in scientific terms, ‘hinky’, for a grizzly bear. It would stop occasionally to sniff, then roll in a patch of wildflowers, always wriggling in obvious enjoyment. It passed by several yellow-bellied marmots, one of a grizzly’s favorite snacks in favor of nibbling tender grass shoots and the bark off an elderberry bush. We knew from previous sightings that grizzlies would often stop and lick shrubbery, even sometimes pulling the leaves off of the plant to eat them, but always they did this in a manner befitting the grizzly image, with much snarling and roaring, even shredding the bush with its razor-sharp claws.

Tyrone, or bear # 609 if you prefer like that condescending ranger, exhibited none of these traits. Even when we shoved the now crazed intern, the one dressed in the wounded elk calf costume, directly in his path, he simply stepped over him and continued on his way. It was then that we formed the startling new theory that quite possibly, almost assuredly, Tyrone was a Vegan. Now you’ve got to admit, you don’t see that every day.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your viewpoint, the intern, now past any form of coherence managed to wriggle out of his wounded elk calf costume and immediately began running down the highway towards Fishing Bridge where they have a phone and public transportation, presumably to bail on the program. There’s no way he’s getting paid as it clearly states in the contract he signed prior to the inspection trip, that all duties had to be fulfilled completely and professionally or you would not receive your salary, let alone any bonus for making it through alive. The screaming alone disqualified him, that ‘s unprofessional, even before he thought of bailing. We’ve had interns break and run before so we’ve got this locked up pretty tight contract-wise.

Of secondary importance, right after discovering that Tyrone was a Vegan, was the fact that here’s a grizzly bear, and a pretty big one too, swimming across the Yellowstone river. How cool is that? We just wish it had been one of the big butch grizzlies all full of raging bearliness instead of a leaf eating Vegan. But you can’t have everything. We saw it and now so did you, and like we said, you don’t see that every day.

Bear Tales



As we head into Spring it’s time for the bears to wake up and start the new season. Last fall they were stuffing themselves with anything edible in order to make it through the winter. This Black bear lady has two of last years cubs with her, although they aren’t in this shot, and next season she will cut them loose to go out and be bears on their own. They will den up with her this winter for the last time.

Before all that takes place she has a job to do. She has to bulk up and gain the weight needed to last through the winter. She has been eating everything in sight. Roadkill, carcasses that the wolves pulled down that she has appropriated, grass, bugs, Miller moths, and a delicacy she really likes, seeds from the pine cones from the white pine tree.

Here she has captured one of those pine cones and is holding it delicately in her front paws while she carefully pulls the individual scales off the cone to get at the seeds. It seems like a lot of work for such a small prize but she stays at it until she has eaten her fill. This is her chocolate and she’s a glutton. In the fall there seems to be enough pine cones on the ground and she can eat her fill without having to do too much work. If she finds a windfall where the pines cones have built up, like a place where they’ve rolled down into a gully and bunched up, she may stay there until she and her cubs have pretty much cleaned them out. Often sleeping on or near the pile so they’re at hand, or paw as it were, when she wakes up in the morning.

In the spring when there is still snow on the ground and the cones are more difficult to find she and her cubs will climb up into the white pines, heading to the top of the tree until it nearly bends over from their weight, and harvest the pin cones right off the tree.

She ‘s lucky today, the weather is perfect, she’s just located a huge stash of pine cones and she’s eaten so many so far that she is half-standing, half-laying on them as she still crams them into her mouth. The sound of her crunching the pine cones to make the scales fall off can be heard from some distance.

The cubs are behaving now and as they are sort of like teenagers at this point, they can not eat enough, but they give it their best shot as they too have figured out they better put on the pounds so they can make it through the winter. They can sleep as much as 10 and a half months without eating, drinking, urinating, defecating, while getting all the nutrients they need from the stored up fat of their own bodies as they sleep throughout the winter. This is why the bears pack it on and look like hairy sumo wrestlers when it’s time to den up.

This image was shot in late September in Yellowstone and this bear and her cubs have a couple of weeks yet before it’s time to head into the den. It looks like she has a good start on getting fattened up for the winter. It’s hard to image that she’ll put on even more weight in the next couple of weeks, but she will. So we’ll leave her to it. If we could catch her when she emerges from her den next spring you wouldn’t believe it was the same robust bear we’re looking at now as she will be just a pale shadow of herself. Sleep well.




Let Sleeping Bears Lie

LetSleepingBearLie2977Black Bear Yellowstone


Let sleeping bears lie. Boy, oh boy, oh boy, there’s some advice you need to listen to and hold dear. Up in Yellowstone if you should be so lucky as to come across a sleeping bear the general rule is to leave it alone. I mean, don’t talk to it, don’t throw little stones at it to get its attention, and don’t under any circumstances poke it with a stick. The size of the stick doesn’t matter. The rule still holds. Let sleeping bears lie.

They make these rules for a reason. Let’s consider a moment. You got a bear, average weight maybe 300 – 350 lbs., he’s got muscles like Arnie only bigger, he doesn’t have the best temperament even when he’s reasonably happy, which is seldom, and he’s always hungry. He’s sleeping because he’s tired, probably from having to hunt for food, or fight other bears, and he’s sick of it and simply needs to take some time off. Then you’ve got this annoying little person, who for some reason or other, is no longer of sound mind that wants to interact with it, just because, well just because they want to, and you have a recipe for dire consequences.

Another reason they say leave sleeping bears lie, is they don’t always react like reasonable beings. After you have woken the bear there usually isn’t time to have a conversation explaining why you think it is important that you need to disturb it because the bear is busy biting holes in your dumb ass. And then things get serious. So pay attention, when you come across a sign, or some advice, or a posted rule saying, don’t do that, Don’t do that.

The moral of this story is pretty simple. When you notice a sleeping bear let it lie.

This has been another public service announcement from your friends at The Institute. Remember, we have your best interests at heart.

Up Past Her Bedtime

UpPastHerBedtime2644Black Bear Yellowstone                                               Click to enlarge


Well it happened again. Rosie, the queen of Mt. Washburn, well-known party bear and frequent mother, attended one too many parties and has been caught out in the open by an early winter snowfall.

The younger bears, who have no sense of propriety, invited her to one last bash up on the mountain where they feasted on white bark pine nuts until they collapsed in a heap, satiated and oblivious to the weather. Rosie, usually the image of some what dubious respectability, over-indulged and is now feeling the effects of her behavior.

Rosie knows better and she is beginning to see her lack of good sense has put her in a precarious position. She has to shake off the pine nut induced stupor and get busy finding that den she should already be in. She’s eaten enough for two bears and the twins she is carrying will be well provided for through the long cold winter.

Before we’re too hard on Rosie we need to realize that she has been a good mother and having a new set of kids every two years has taxed her to the limit. She is due to let off a little steam and as one of the most experienced bears in the park she won’t have any trouble ‘denning up’ and settling in for the winter. So before those who would cast the first Turkey leg, or in Rosie’s case the first bushel of pine nuts, begin to chastise her, remember the number of times you went back for seconds or thirds on the white meat and mashed potatoes and cut her some slack. Myself I’m still trying to walk off that 4 pounds of oyster dressing I ate. In fact I wonder if there’s any of that left. Go to go, the refrigerator’s calling.