The Shots I Didn't Take / by Brian Beck

The road trip rolled out of Yellowstone on Friday morning.  I had been telling the kids that Yellowstone is the crown jewel of America's national parks and with the skies overcast and the big animals somewhat sparse, the kids had tuned out the "whaa whaa" talker in the front seat.  The iPads seemed more interesting than the scenery.

All of that changed on Friday morning.  Storms had blown through overnight leaving the air crisp, if not downright cold, with a blanket of fog over the landscape.  After we coaxed the old car to life (cold and altitude aren't friends of a carburetor), we headed south out of Canyon toward the east entrance.  As we climbed the pass, the fog lifted slightly to reveal a light dusting of snow tucked into the rocks and crevices.  Bison are mentally unstable animals to begin with, and the notice from Old Man Winter that the summer rent was coming due had apparently put them in a vile mood. They stampeded down the road, charged at cars, and snorted at reckless tourists with cameras out the window.  I saw more than one car speed away with a bison galloping behind. Winter must exact an awful toll.

The photographs on that drive out of the park were everywhere and they were spectacular. It was a morning that would make an atheist grab a hymnal. As always seems to be the case though, we couldn't stay. Quimby was due to arrive in Rapid City at 9:30pm and that was 500 hard mountain miles away. I took as many shots as I could and then put the camera down and drove through a cathedral of stone and sky, reminding myself that of all the beautiful scenes I've photographed over the years, some of the greatest shots were the ones that I didn't take.  Those, I kept completely for myself.

The morning sky from the east side of Yellowstone Lake.

The fog lifts over a river in Yellowstone.

Bison look angrily through the trees on a late summer morning in Yellowstone.  Overnight snow put them in a foul mood.