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

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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.

Moonset On Storm Mountain

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The Mummy range is a mountain range located within Rocky Mountain National Park and is visible from the third tier observation and weather monitoring deck here at *The Institute year round. Storm mountain is particularly visible due to its prominence on the horizon. Normally it is surrounded by other snow caps, well in fact it is always surrounded by other snow caps, and keeps its mantle of white till late into the summer. However in the summer things change. The wet storms begin and they arrive with gale force winds and driving rain. Lots of rain. The lightning and the thunderous sounds of its strikes rending and tearing its way through the sky can be heard for miles. The flashes of the lightning strikes themselves can be seen for minutes and sometimes days after the flash having burned their image indelibly onto your retinas. Which is why you want to always wear welding goggles when looking at lightning or welding too. Remember you only get one set of eyeballs. Treat them as if you’d like to see out of them for a long time. Just because lighting is fun doesn’t mean you should stare at it like a dumb person.

It is during these storms that some of our best pictures are taken of the immense power and magnitude of these storms. Capturing these moments is not for the faint-hearted. To get the full effect of the drama that occurs we have set up an open to the elements, semi-permanent photographic station out on the third tier, cantilevered deck, high up on the West Tower. We have fastened our metal tripod and waterproof cameras to the floor with non-conductive fasteners rated for two billion Joules of electricity in the unlikely event that lightning strikes the setup during one of these photographic sessions.

However lately we haven’t had that much luck in the not getting struck by lightning category. In fact the last three interns we’ve had chained to the tripod have come close to sustaining serious injury and third degree burns from hanging on to the metal railing around the deck when lighting struck the metal collars they were wearing. Some of them find this unsettling and begin screaming uncontrollably and leaping about. Luckily the doors are thick enough to cancel most of the noise. We think maybe the two billion Joules fasteners we used might be faulty.  It’s because the interns tend to run away or even jump off the deck when the lightning strikes get too close, thereby missing the better shots, that we’ve had to resort to the light chaining and padlocking the outer doors to make sure we get all the data we need.

During the last Super moon that occurred our fail-safe lightning rod system broke down in the middle of the torrential storm and let a small amount of lightning slip through to one of our interns who had unaccountably wrapped his chain around the legs of the tripod, tripped and was hanging over the metal deck railing when the lightning burned through his chain, allowing him to slip rather ungracefully over the edge. Apparently he fell down onto the tall timber next to the foot of The Institutes massive stone foundation. We say apparently because we can’t see him in any of the treetops so he must have crashed on through to a lower point. We hope to find him when we do our annual spring pruning next month.

Unfortunately he managed to break off the camera mount and the camera during his struggles losing the images we desperately needed for this post. One of our staff illustrators was able to create a facsimile of the image of the Super moon setting over Storm Mountain in the middle of that fantastic storm that you see above, so we were able to complete the post thereby saving the day. There always seems to be a bright side to these things for which we’re thankful of course. Anyway here you have it such as it is, Moonset On Storm Mountain

* 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.

I Can See You, You Know

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Us wildlife photographers have to be a wily bunch to be able to sneak up and catch our quarry without being discovered so we can document their lives without them knowing about it. We do this so that you can see what they do behind closed bushes as it were. Some of it is pretty weird but usually they’re just doing normal stuff, eating grass, laying a round, having quiet discussions and so on.

Lots of times the subject we’re stalking doesn’t want to be photographed so we have to resort to subterfuge and disguises. Disguises work best unless they don’t. If they don’t work that means you didn’t choose your disguise very well. Some larger photographers will disguise themselves as a Winnebago because the elk in this case are used to seeing Winnebago’s and pay them little attention. However one cannot take a Winnebago into the bush so it has limited applications. Another is a Ranger suit. It also has its limitations due to the fact that although the elk are used to seeing Rangers, when they do, it’s usually because they want to do something to them so they’re suspicious and unphotogenic. There is also that little thing about it being unlawful to imitate a federal employee. Besides Rangers get really cranky when you do goofy stuff while wearing a Ranger suit. At least at Rocky Mountain National Park.

We use a foolproof disguise, a full-sized flowering Mountain Mahogany bush suit that almost always fools everybody and lets us get right in the middle of everything without being outed as human in a bush suit. But… having said that, once in a while one of the elk figures out what’s going on, we’re not sure how yet, but they do, and then there’s the inevitable embarrassing confrontation. There is yelling and name calling. If it’s a big cow who has had a bad day or has some other type of feminine problem, kids acting up, the bull not coming home for dinner, or worse coming home loaded, then things escalate pretty fast. That’s when it is prudent to haul tripods and retreat to the safety of a bunker or some other fortified building.

A bit of warning. Do not, repeat, do not  wear your bush suit from September on. That’s when the bulls are coming out  of their velvet and they will flat tear up a bush trying to rub the velvet off their antlers. A nine hundred pound bull doing his best to tear off every limb on the bush by repeatedly sticking his rack into the center of the bush then violently shaking his head back and force can cause equipment failure even to Nikon’s or Canons and lots of times put the eye out of the photographer hidden inside it. Just saying. Don’t do it.

That was the case when photographing this youngish cow elk and accidentally sneezing. They perk right up and get suspicious when a bush sneezes. In this particular case we lied and said we were from National Geographic doing an article on winsome young cows. Being naive she bought it and we even got her to prance around and do clever elk tricks before one of the older cows came over to investigate. Seeing right through us she immediately began calling for one of the herd bulls so we bailed and went and had lunch.

So remember, to be a good wildlife photographer you have to be sneaky, wear a good disguise ( but not a bush suit after August 31st) have a good line ready if you’re caught and watch out for bulls. That’s it then, happy shooting.

Three Strikes

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My name is Millie Elizabeth Smallfoot and I’m a Mule deer doe currently residing in Rocky Mountain National Park. You would not think it to look at me a but I am a twice convicted felon on the National parks Three Strikes program. I come from a good family. I have never offended before but now I’m one strike away from the death penalty. I do not know what I have done wrong.

Early one morning as I was making my way down to the creek to begin my morning ablutions I felt a blow to my left hindquarters, then a stinging pain. I became dizzy and disoriented but before I passed out I saw four large men in green jumpsuits approach me and wrestle me to the ground.

I don’t know how long I was unconscious but upon awakening I felt a foreign object in my ear. It was a sharp pain that scared me but that was nothing to the feeling I had the moment I found out that I had been branded or tagged as a criminal. One of the larger bucks who had one in his ear too came over to me and said ” Strange, they usually don’t do that to does.” I asked what it meant and he said it was the way management identified troublemakers and it was a serious deal. I had better watch my step he said.”You don’t want another one.”

Frantic and desperate to find out what this meant and why it happened to me I went to Park headquarters to speak to someone who might be able to help me. Instead I was met with outright hostility and contempt and told that I must have deserved it or they wouldn’t have tagged me. Pleading with them to explain what obviously was a mistake, they simply handed me a pamphlet titled “Three Strikes and you’re out, How the park system manages it Problem Residents.” and told me to leave.

The pamphlet explained that some of the larger parks had residents such as Grizzly bears that would make trouble and be rude to park visitors. These “bad” bears would break into trash cans, destroy tents and campsites, and even bite people. Consequently they were caught, had this device put in their ear and told not to do it again. One tag meant you’re were an at risk individual, two meant you were on the watch list, and three, three meant you were incorrigible and would be “put down” at the next infraction. It took me a moment to realize what “Put Down” meant.

I’m a doe, possibly the least offensive resident in the park. I weigh 72 pounds max. I’m not going to break into any trash cans or campsites or even bite someone. I’m a leaf eater for cripes sake. If i even see anyone I run and hide in a bush.

Apparently it was a mistake to take my case to management. Park headquarters took that as sign of aggressiveness and the next morning I received my second tag. Now I keep myself way up in the back country behind bear lake. I have plans to take my fawn and head out of the park. Maybe someplace like *The Institute where I’ve heard they don’t support tagging in any form. I heard that they can even take these tags out. I could have a new life, free, off of death row. The trick is to get out of the park. They feel that they own you and especially more so if you are tagged, they aren’t going to let you go. I’ve been planing this for months now. My fawn is old enough that she can keep up, the aspen are fresh with new green leaves, the mountain mahogany is budding out, there is an unusual number of visitors to the park this Spring so management is not watching as close. I know we can make it once we cross the park border. Fortunately there is no hunting season open right now so we should be in the clear. I just hope that The Institute will take us in. And I can finally lose these tags.

*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.

The Thousand Yard Stare

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Well, it’s time to go see Loretta again. She’s in that burrow out there near the tree line. Man I wish that wasn’t so far away. I still have the scars from that Redtail the last time I went there. It took nearly all winter for the hair to grow back. If it was any one else but Loretta I’d say screw it but I been thinking about her all Spring and she has been flicking her tail this way every time she sees me.

Everybody has been saying that coyote, Ringo, has been crossing through the area nearly every morning. Arrogant bastard, calling himself Ringo, that jerk doesn’t look anything like a drummer. I heard he ate Constance just a few days ago. That’s pretty pathetic she could hardly move anyway, what with that arthritis. He must be slowing down if he’s taken to eating grandma’s now. I think I can out run him if I get a fair head start.

Ok then, that’s it, I’m going for it. Wish me luck.

Things They Are A Changing

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Every Spring The Institute sends one of our roving biologists to Rocky Mountain National Park to see whats new and they usually come back with a report that is fairly dull and boring. I mean how many new species of Chipmunks are you going to find ? None would be the correct answer. Or what about Elk? Any lime green ones this year? No, the correct answer would also be no. As far as the type of animals available in the park that’s going to stay pretty much the same.

So what we have to look for, if we’re going to have anything new at all to report, is changes in behavior. Trends, new styles, interspecies love affairs, technical advancements, etc. And we hit pay dirt right out of the chute. It seems as if the technical advances we’ve seen in the last few years outside of the park’s boundaries have finally caught up with some of our animals in the park. Also some real life style changes that are remarkable when compared to the way these animals have lived for who knows how long, years probably.

If it weren’t for photographic evidence and the fact that this was seen by one of our most dependable and sober researchers we might have dismissed this story out of hand. But as you know by now pictures don’t lie. People writing stories about those pictures might, but the pictures themselves don’t.

We have two, that’s right two, really remarkable things happening here. The first is that many of the Mule deer in the park who are constantly looking for a better life, have taken up living in heretofore unused housing. There is now a sizable number of them occupying the caves that abound in the sides of the mountains here. Yes, difficult as it may be to believe except for some of you more gullible types, we now have a group of cave dwelling Mule deer. They have begun moving into these caves at an incredible rate, actually causing cave prices to double in just the last year and a half. Low interest rates have played a part in this cave dwelling boom but the fact that they are now occupying caves at all is the real story.

The other amazing story is the adoption of wearable technology. This trendy young male, or buck, as the ladies like to call him, is seen wearing the newest Sony TrotMan mp3 player, radio and personal location device. This is actually the latest version (2.0) of this newly offered Animal Media delivery device on the market. Besides being able to pick up K103.5, the Mulie Music station of the Rockies, or K-Buck as it’s known throughout the park, he can receive weather reports, updates on the next hunting season, Oldies but Goodies, there’s even a swap meet show every Saturday morning and tips on where is the best recycling place to shed his antlers in the spring, and with the optional blue-tooth speaker you see mounted in his other ear, everything is incredibly clear so he can hear every word and sing along with his favorite artist. This is all in stereophonic hi-fi, and of course advertising free FM.

In speaking with park officials, those that would agree to make any kind of statement at all that is, actually no one officially employed by the Park Service or any of its subsidiaries would agree to make a comment, mostly they just rolled up their windows and drove away, but this guy that hangs around the trash cans at Horseshoe Meadow said that from what he heard, this is a test program being conducted at Rocky Mountain National Park and if it goes well and they get the subscription numbers they’re looking for, this program will likely Spread to Yellowstone, Bryce and Zion, and any other park that has a sizable number of Mule deer.

As always we want to make you aware of the latest stories and unusual news coming out of the wildlife world. We’re justifiably proud to be the first to bring you this latest breaking story and want to remind you that The Institute is always on  the lookout for the those news events that  keep you abreast and informed, so that when you relate this story to your coworkers around the water cooler you’ll sound as intelligent as any one else there. Check in with us often so you are always are up to date with the most intriguing news available. Remember We’re The Institute and we’re here to help.

 

Back In The Bushes

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Spring in Rocky Mountain National Park is usually a time when love is the center of attention. There is all that birds and bees stuff going on what with pairing up and nest-building and the place fairly reeks of love. For the Elk, love is for the Fall. Spring is for birthing babies. Elk mate and carry their young through the winter and in the Spring there is a frenzy of activity as the various pregnant cows decide important things. Like which clump of bushes to drop their calf’s in. It has to be far enough away from the main herd to keep busybodies away yet close enough to show off the little darlings after they arrive. Or what type of layette they will have to make their nursery complete, blue or pink, that kind of thing. One of the biggest decisions to make is which name to pick out if it is a bull calf.

Edith June and Loretta Clarisse are sisters and have always been fiercely competitive. They’ve been on the outs since last Fall when they found out they had both been with Big Daryl the herd bull. Big Daryl was one of the toughest, meanest, most belligerent bulls in the park which made him highly desirable of course, and the sisters both wanted to name their offspring some variation of Daryl, figuring this would give them an edge next Fall when the Rut, or mating season came around.

Edith June, the cow on the left, had made a grand announcement that not only was she carrying Daryl’s progeny but that she was carrying twins, both bull calves. She was going to name them Daryl, as in, this is my son Daryl and my other son Daryl. When Loretta Clarisse heard that gossip ripple though the herd she was incensed, not only incensed but furious, nearly out of her mind with anger and rage, her jealousy rampant, as she was only carrying  one calf and it was a cow. Holy Mackerel. Did the droppings ever hit the fan when she found herself bested by her sister. Not one to keep things to herself Loretta Clarisse cornered Edith June back in the bushes and made her feelings known.

Cows rarely get physical but when they do it is impressive to watch. Kind of like when two pretty, but shapely sisters fight over getting the same boyfriends name tattooed on their posteriors. There is head-butting, name calling, gnashing of teeth, baleful glaring, and hoof hitting. Hoof hitting is the one that causes damage. Their hooves are sharp and they hit with the full weight of their 450 lb. bodies, and cuts and getting an eye out are not uncommon.

Fortunately some of the older cows who have been through this many times before  waded in and broke them up before any real damage was done. Other than some bruised egos and a sharp pain in Edith June’s side from the exertion everything ended as well as could be expected. The older cows herded Loretta Clarisse to the other end of the meadow to cool down and Edith June’s friends commiserated with her, telling her how lucky she was to be having twins and how awful her sister was for being such a bitch. Cow elk use the word bitch having heard it from the many tourists that frequent the park so don’t be surprised if you hear them calling each other that if you visit. This is a good reason not to use vulgar language in front of our wild friends.

What you have just seen is not a rare occurrence here in Rocky Mountain National Park. Elk are a family and the family dynamics aren’t a lot different from that found in human families. One of the things to watch for as you view the Elk herd on your next visit is the sheer number of bull calves named Daryl. Elk are not very imaginative and tend to copy whatever the most popular cow does. So every bull calf born this year is likely to be named Daryl even if it’s father was actually named Steve. That’s just how things work here.