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Un-bear-able Stupidity And Bear-ly Escaped Awkwardness

, , , , , , , | Right | November 17, 2022

The first time we went to Yellowstone, we would not stop to let our son look at some bears a couple hundred yards off the road because there were people literally stopping their cars and getting out to walk up to get better pictures, and we did not want to him to see someone being mauled by a bear.

The next time we went to Yellowstone, we did get out to look at the bears because there was an armed park ranger standing on the side of the road watching to make sure no one did anything that stupid. He was also answering the many children’s questions about the bears.

Child: “Are they boy bears or girl bears?”

Ranger: “The lighter-colored one is a girl and the darker-colored one is a boy.”

When pressed on how he knew this by the very curious children, he looked at them, looked at the parents, and said:

Ranger: “I’ve been observing them for quite a while.”

When we got back to the car, our ten-year-old asked:

Son: “Does he mean that he saw them mating?”

I’m really proud that he was tactful enough to wait until we got back in our car to ask that, because I did not want to deal with ignorant parents who get so upset over such simple and honest questions.

Always Have Faith That Customers Will Be Like This

, , , , , , , | Right | October 17, 2022

I am in Yellowstone on a family vacation. There is a geyser there called Old Faithful that rather regularly goes off about every ninety minutes. As such, the Parks Service has a sign with an estimate of when it will be going off next.

On this particular day, the geyser is a few minutes late and there are some people at the information desk to complain about it. One of them stands out.

Guest: “It’s a hot day and my family has been waiting!”

Information Desk: “Sorry, sir, but the times are only estimates. It’s pretty regular, though, so it shouldn’t be a few more minutes before—”

Guest: “No! This is not what I paid for! My family needs a picture of the geyser and we can’t be expected to wait this long.”

Information Desk: “What is it you would like me to do, sir?”

Guest: “Well, don’t you have some sort of button that you can press or something?”

Information Desk: “A button? To make the geyser erupt?”

Guest: “Well?”

Information Desk: “I’ll pass that… suggestion to my manager, sir. However, if—”

Suddenly, as seen and heard from the viewing area at the visitor’s center, Old Faithful does its thing — loud, beautiful, and perfectly timed. The guest turns to see that his opportunity has passed and then glares back at the information desk worker.

Guest: “You did that on purpose!”

The guest storms off and the perplexed-looking worker locks eyes with me and has a moment of honesty.

Information Desk: “You know what? I wish I had.”

Well, It Finally Happened

, , , , , , , , | Learning | October 11, 2022

During a summer session at the university I attended, one of the students organized a trip to nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park is at a relatively high elevation, and the organizer did not realize that this meant that, even in late June, much of the snow would still not be melted.

When we attempted to visit the geothermally active area called “Bumpass Hell,” which features mud pots, boiling springs, and fumaroles, we found that the trailhead was inaccessible, blocked by about a foot and a half of snow.

When we returned to the school, we were able to report, in all honesty, “We tried to go to Hell, but it was closed because it had frozen over.”

Bison: A NAR Guide

, , , , , , , , | Right | September 21, 2022

I am fifteen years old, on a family vacation driving through half a dozen states. One of the stops in South Dakota, aside from Mount Rushmore, is to the Wind Cave National Park. As we’re making our way through the main road in the park, we can see on the open prairie, about twenty feet from the side of the road, a herd of bison. Up close, they kind of look like big, dumb, cuddly teddy bears, and that’s actually what a lot of people seem to think.

There are a good dozen cars or more parked along the side of the road, and we join them, pulling to the side. The bison are maybe twenty or twenty-five feet away from us and they’re just grazing. To my amazement, I see people exiting their vehicles and approaching the bison like they’re pet dogs that are begging for attention. These people must have a death wish. A male bison can exceed 2,000 pounds, and they can turn a car onto its side. These people are extremely lucky it’s not mating season and there aren’t any calves around.

I make a comment to my mom and stepdad about how stupid those people are to be approaching those bison. My younger brother, who is about nine, says he wouldn’t even want to get close to one of them.

By now, half a dozen cars have emptied and most of the occupants are within six to eight feet of the bison. The bison haven’t moved an inch. They’re still standing in the same spot they have been, but they’ve now started to lift their heads up from grazing and they’re watching these people approach them. The people are snapping pictures, lifting their little kids up high, trying to make it look like the kids are on top of the bison and riding them (like how people take pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to make it look like they are pushing it back up).

This goes on for five or six minutes, and then up the road comes Ranger Rick in his jeep. He parks his jeep, jumps out, and starts sternly talking to all the people out of their cars.

Ranger Rick: “What is wrong with all you people? These are not domesticated animals! They are to not be approached nor fed. Even stopping by the side of the road inside your vehicle can be dangerous if one of the males decides to charge you. I’ve witnessed them turning cars over and people getting seriously injured! Go back to your vehicles and leave.”

Murmurs come up from the group of people that are still wandering within spitting distance of these bison, and most of them are just looking at Ranger Rick like he’s a fool.

Ranger Rick: “You are putting your children’s lives at risk bringing them out of the vehicles. Please, go back to your vehicles.”

A few more murmurs come up from the people walking around. A couple of people head back to their cars, but most stay put.

Ranger Rick: “Anyone out here that does not get in your car and leave the area right now will have their vehicle information handed to the cops and fined for trespassing. If you stay, any harm that may come to you or your loved ones or your property, the state will not reimburse you. You will be responsible for all fees and fines should any rescue efforts be required.”

People start making their way back to their vehicles and piling in to leave.

My stepdad flags down Ranger Rick after everyone has moved along.

Step-Dad: “Do you have to do this often?”

Ranger Rick: “Almost every day. People think these bison are big domesticated dogs. I used to be amazed at the sheer stupidity of people, but after having to do this almost every day, I now find it just sad how ignorant most people are.”

Step-Dad: “Is it true that you’ve seen bison turn a car on its side?”

Ranger Rick: “Yep, a few times. It’s rare, but it does happen. It’s generally because someone spooks the bison because they exited their vehicle and got too close, especially with young calves around. Thank you for not being one of those families that got out of your vehicle. You guys enjoy the rest of the park.”

Ranger Rick waved and headed back to his jeep. It looked like he decided to stick around for a bit to tell grown adults that they were dumb if they exited their vehicles and tried to approach the bison.

I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes. Most people out of their vehicles cared more about not getting fined or having to pay fees than about the safety of their families, especially young children.

They Can And They Are

, , , , | Right | August 16, 2022

I used to work at Glacier National Park. A distressingly high percentage of the population simply doesn’t “get” nature. It’s all just Disneyland to them. I regularly got asked where the animals’ cages were located, as well as fielded complaints about the unkempt “landscaping” on our trails.

Then, there were the ones who loudly complained about the lack of TV and Internet access in the lodges.

Guests: “What are my kids supposed to do all day?!”

The first few days on the job, I just thought people were screwing with me. No one could really be that dumb, right?