Yellowstone: Bear World

Abe has always loved bears, and ever since he was little he's wanted to go to Yellowstone to see a bear in the wild! He did get to go on a bear-tagging trip with his Grandma once, but they didn't find many bears and the one he did get close to was sleeping. Safer, of course, but a bit disappointing for a bear-lover like Abe.

Anyway, summer is the wrong time of year to see many bears at Yellowstone, I guess—too many crowds. I think you do glimpse them occasionally but I wasn't too hopeful. Then 
Sam's parents told us about this place—Yellowstone Bear World—in Rexburg, and it seemed like a great way to make sure we saw at least SOME bears, for Abe's sake. I even signed him up to feed the baby bears!

And honestly, I wasn't expecting much. Maybe some sad-looking bears lumbering around in a pen, and a petting zoo or something. But as it turned out, we loved the place! Abe was in heaven feeding these little cuties their bottles. He got to pet them and snuggle them and everything! And they were such hungry, furry, playful little cubs!

The cubs really loved the workers there. You could tell they had bonded. This one was just lolling around in his girl's lap—snuggling and giving happy playful bites. It was adorable.
I couldn't get enough of watching the cubs play. They would tumble and wrestle and bite and tease each other. It was all so…familiar. They were exactly like a group of little boys!
And it's my favorite when they stand up like this. So cute!!
There were these sort of mediocre carnival-ish rides you could ride free with admission, but there was  literally no one else there (not sure why? Because it was the end of the day, maybe?) and it made everything strangely wonderful. The kids just rode and rode and rode everything, again and again.
Goldie was SO happy! Look at her face! I think she thought she was really driving this car.
She loved the tiny train, too.
Even Teddy permitted himself a small smile.
The kids especially loved this "roller coaster" (which had started operating just that very day, apparently). I loved watching the boys each take charge of one of their sisters for the ride.
There was a petting zoo, which was great. This deer? (elk? I learned the difference and I STILL can't tell!) became fast friends with Malachi. Malachi started petting him and he settled right down practically in Ky's lap!
Junie liked, and was slightly nervous about, this potbellied pig.
But the drive-through part was our very favorite. You drive slooooowly through the bear habitats in your car, and there are bears everywhere! There are elk and deer and other animals too, but the bears were our favorites—black bears and grizzlies. Maybe 40 or 50 bears. They just wander around sleepily, looking at you. Everywhere you look, there's another bear!
This bear was totally unconcerned by our presence. We sat there in the van, waiting for him to move out of our way, but he had no apparent interest in doing so. You aren't supposed to leave the car, of course, so we just kept waiting until one of the workers came over and waved us along. "Just go around the bear," he said, completely unsurprised.
As we tried to back up a bit to get around the front bear, THIS bear suddenly appeared in back of the car, watching us with interest. He seemed intent on getting as much in our way as possible, and only moved with great reluctance when it became clear we weren't going to stop inching toward him. The worker was just laughing at them both. We were surprised there weren't a few bears hitching a ride on our bumper when we drove out!

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