Life here in PANP isn't all work and no play, though it might sound like that if you assessed the experience solely on how much time we spend on the field, reading papers related to the research, entering data, writing up field notes, taking and processing photographs, and planning the next week's work.
Happily, we have occasional visitors, who are equally game to spend all day looking for (and at) bison. The smallest visitors are also a great excuse to stop and enjoy the minutia that makes this park tick - flowers, insects, and even rocks. Here's a glimpse of what a weekend on the park's West Side looks like with toddlers, a sibling, and mother dear in tow.
PANP is clogged with evidence of beavers. Even the road to the warden station is nearly swimming in signs of these industrious creatures. My sister thought she'd sample one of the local population's favorites - quaking aspen.
Jerod was delighted to introduce our youngest nephew to the wonders of Canada's national parks (left). Meanwhile, his older brother, was equally delighted to discover the ATVs (more commonly called "quads" around here) stored in the shop. He was fascinated by them, and proved straightaway that he's growing up in a rural environment - he knew exactly how to turn them on!
A little less fun than the motorized attractions were the insects. Despite our efforts (see picture below, on the right) to keep him totally covered up, the mosquitoes found this little guy's tender skin irresistible. Here, we're slathering on a baking soda paste that actually does offer some relief.
Thanks to unusual amounts of rain, aforementioned beavers, and PANP's underlying geology, mud boots are not just a good idea, they are essential. Clearly, our nephew thought my mother had the best set of the bunch. He also got a real kick out of adding to the high water with a little of his own.
There's a third sister in our family, but we couldn't seem to find her in the woods. Maybe next time.
Turns out the Valleyview Lookout and trail are perfect for little tykes, picnics, and Frisbee! The two year-old came out in all of us, and our nephew was hooked.