Tuesday, July 1, 2014

One Baby's Epic 'Moose'-Adventure

Grandma & Grandpa H. were just out to visit us a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time with them! Yellowstone was on their list of things they wanted to do, so one morning we headed out for a day-trip into the Park. Grandma H. was hoping to get to see a moose. She loooves moose! And she had never before seen an adult moose live and in-person (which is something that I did not know before this trip). PJ and I had taken the kids to Yellowstone a week before we went with them, and we had seen a cow moose with a calf along the river just outside the East Entrance. As we approached that area again I was keeping my eyes peeled, hoping to see her again. When we got to the exact spot that we had seen the pair before there were a dozen or so cars parked alongside the road and people sitting around with big fancy cameras... so we pulled off the road even before we saw them. We figured they had to be there, considering the telephoto lenses don't come out for nothing. And they were. 

And I come bearing photos, and a story...
When we spotted them, the momma was laying down and her calf was off exploring. They were in the exact same spot they had been the week before – on a little island-type area in the middle of the river.

We had been there for just a minute or two before the mom stood up and called her calf over to nurse.

The baby had a pretty short little snack. Then they started walking over towards the river.

The baby had to scramble a little bit to get over the logs.

I figured she was going to the edge of the river to get a drink, but when she got there she just kept on walking.

As they entered the water, and kept going, it became apparent that the momma moose was going to try to cross the river with her calf. There was no way we were going anywhere at that point! It's not everyday that you get to see stuff like this.

The momma went forward slowly and cautiously so her baby could keep up and keep his feet under him, but she was moving with purpose too.

The baby stayed on the downriver side of her so that mom broke the current for him.

They got two-thirds of the way across before the baby began to have some trouble. The current got to be a little too strong for him, and it was beginning to push him away from his mom.

Eventually he just got too far away from mom. The current was too strong for him on his own, but he tried to keep going and ended up getting caught in where the water was deeper and faster.

Momma kept going until she had reached the riverbank, where she turned around and watched her calf struggling in the water. She looked quite concerned.

Baby was just trying to keep his head above water. He did get dunked at one point, but happily he got his head up above the surface again after just a few seconds.

He was swept along basically right under where we were standing. We could hear him calling to his mom. (A baby moose sounds a lot like a kitten, by the way.)

Momma began walking along the bank as she tried to follow him, until she was right below where we were. As long as she was keeping her eyes on the calf, the crowd that was watching didn't seem to worried. At one point, though, she looked right up at us... and people started to edge backwards and get ready to move if necessary. After all, you don't mess with a momma moose! (By the way... we were not as close to the momma as these pictures make it look. My camera has a pretty decent zoom on it.)

We were all worried about the little guy. Finally he managed to get over to a shallower spot. He got his feet under him, and instead of trying to head back to mom he wisely went straight back over to their home island. 

When mom saw him standing and walking, she crossed the river to get to him. The water was so strong that it was pushing her sideways as she went across.

Finally, they were reunited again. The crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief.

We headed back to the car and went on into the Park. I was happy that we had found a moose for Grandma H.! That would have been enough in and of itself... but to see an event like that... it was a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing. I'm sure that little baby was born on that small island there in the middle of the rushing river. There was a limited food supply there, and it was pretty exposed, so momma must have decided that it was time to move, and that she thought he'd be big enough to cross the river. She picked the best spot to cross, where the water was the most shallow, but he just couldn't make it across the deeper channel right before the bank. Better luck next time, little fella!

There's times in life when we all get to feeling like that little moose - knocked down and pushed along where we didn't intend to go, just trying - and sometimes failing - to keep our head above water. I've been there! It can feel like we're all alone.

But we're not really.

God is always there, watching over us. He is our Father and He cares about what we're facing. He cares about us. Persevere and don't give up. He sure won't give up on you!

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, 
consider it an opportunity for great joy. 
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow."
-James 1: 2-3

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