Some cleared roads in Yellowstone National Park opened for bicyclists this week. Work continues to open major routes to cars by April 21. Soon, millions of people will visit the park to enjoy its amazing natural wonders. Just remember, bison always have the right of way. Photo by National Park Service.
One frame of photography bleeds into another to create star trails over Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National park. Steam plumes from the geyser migrate back and forth over the hour waiting for eruption.
Yellowstone National Park boasts 4 mountain ranges and at least 70 peaks over 8,000 feet tall. At almost 11,000 feet tall, Electric Peak is the third tallest mountain in Yellowstone. With its snow-covered face catching the day’s last sun rays, it’s a majestic sight to behold. Photo by Neal Herbert, National Park Service.
I would like for you to tell stupid tourist stories? Your story-telling style is very engaging.
First of all, thank you very much!
Since flattery will get you pretty much anywhere, allow me to tell you The Tale Of Jar-Jar.
The First year my family moved to Colorado, my family decided to take the annual summer camping trip to Yellowstone, now that we were on the right side of the rockies for it. So we pile into the car with all my mom’s immortal camping gear from the 70′s (srsly, I still have the Colemann stove and cooler. They work perfect) and Cody,The Gentleman Shepherd.
Due to Wyoming looking mostly like the ugly parts of Mad Max, we got onto the wrong highway and arrived after dark. Cody waited patiently in the backseat rather than set up in the rain. Gentlemanly.
The next morning, Mom is doing something miraculous with the Colemann and there is a breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. All is serene and beautiful.
Then the people in the next site pull up. They arrive in a Brand-spanking new Ford Pickup towing a trailer that looks like it was salvaged of a 50′s atomic test field. The Husband emerges first and…
I don’t like judging people based on appearance but Man, when a dude walks out of a pickup wearing a confederate flag hat, and half of a mullet one tends to make assumptions.
The eldest child came out next, a boy of about 12, with a rat-tail. Followed by his brother, a boy of about 10, with a rat-tail Followed by his brother, a boy of about 8, with a rat-tail. Followed by his brother, a boy of about 6, with a rat-tail. Followed by his brother, a boy of about 4, with a rat-tail.
The wife finally emerges, looking like death warmed over and carrying a boy of about two, with a rat-tail. It is unclear if she has poor posture or if she is pregnant again. The Boys capable of standing all immediately do so at the border of our site, staring covetously at my bacon.
Finally, with a loud plop and wheezing noise, comes thier dog, for a given value of dog. Pugs are not terribly healthy-looking creatures at the best of times, but this poor thing looked like the canine equivalent of a Hapsburg. One eye was so bulged as to be permanently wall-eyed, and his jaw jutted out in front of him at a distressingly kapakahi angle.
“C’mere Jar-Jar!” hollers the Husband.
“Good God.” muttered my father.
The adults proved over the course of the next hour to be loathsome creatures- Husband was constant’y screaming at the boys the “fuckin’ get me the thing, you little-” then getting mad when asked for clarification on ‘which thing?’. The Wife was a non-stop stream of complaint- the sun is too hot, the shade is too cold, the tent is too far, the birds are too loud, and everything is awful, I’m going to complain to the ranger. Eventually they got their camp set up, and Husband cracked his first beer of the day as we finished locking the bear box and leaving to hike. It was about 10 AM.
We return some hours later to a very animated discussion between Wife and the Camp Supervisor about “I have rights you know!” vs. “Ma’am, we are under an extreme fire danger warning, and Fireworks have been banned in the park for ages.” Jar-Jar, eager to avoid any outbursts, has scuttled under our bear box, wheezing in agitation. Cody, ever gallant, positions himself between Jar-Jar and his mistress, doing his best impression of a Real Shepherd Who Isn’t Scared of Mice and Snowflakes. Husband is unseen, but there are several beer cans in the fire grate.
That evening’s campfire, normally a time to listen to nocturnal wildlife and the Quiet noises of wild places, is instead a time to listen to drunken racist jokes, a sobbing toddler and Husband screeching “SAY AI WANNIT” whilst dangling scraps in front of jar-jar, until the dog stood on his legs and danced, garbling “Ai-Wa-War” in a voice that sounded less like a bark and more like late-stage emphysema, before collapsing on what looked like sore joints.
Late that night, my parents discuss packing up and looking for a site in Teton down the road over the sounds of half-assed drunken sex.
The boys, in spite of their parents, are well mannered, intelligent and engaging to talk to, and seem content to frolic in the woods around the site, examining rocks and plants and the occasional insect. Dad has a nice time telling them about the Yellowstone supervolcano whilst their parents have vanished to parts unknown. Jar-jar remains off-lead and un-collared the entire time, huffing and puffing as he tries to keep up. Still, five boys is perhaps too much attention for an elderly pug, and the too-hard petting and pulling of ears and tail and suchlike is tolerated with an exasperated whine and vacations under our bear-box.
The second night, Husband was furious about something, cursing up a storm and throwing things and generally having a tantrum. The eldest boy said something to him and he bore down on him, hand raised and screaming something about ‘useless pieces of shit.” -When they were interrupted by my mother stepping into their site, all four feet eleven inches of ill-contained fury, staring him down.
“I was wondering.” She said, eyes not moving from him. “If I could borrow some matches.” “Ours got wet.” Dad added, immediately behind her, less as support than restraint.
I remember how ghastly quiet the woods got for a moment there, watching the scene unfold from behind Cody, the only sounds the campfire and crickets.
“Uh, yeah. Matches.” The Wife muttered, and it was enough to get Husband to back down.
“You have lovely children.” Dad continued. “Very smart, very polite.” “You must be so blessed.” My mother adds, only slightly spitting the word.
My parents take the matches and talk a bit longer but I couldn’t hear. Husband gave up, flopping down in his chair, but not before giving Jar-Jar a kick.
The next morning, as my family was packing up to head down to Teton instead, The Eldest boy approached us, concerned.
“Sir?” he asked dad. “Have you seen jar-jar?”
We hadn’t actually, his gravely groveling notably absent that morning at breakfast. My sister and I went on a search with the boys through the camp, but to no avail. We did find Wife, complaining to the campground host that there were too many wild animals around. In the National Park. Saddened and trying to give the boys some hope that perhaps jar-Jar had not been eaten by the coyotes, we left.
On the way out the main gate, we ended up behind a Buick with Florida plates, driven by a couple well into their octogenarian period, at about seven miles per hour. As they stopped at the checkout gate, clearly asking for directions, a dog climbed up to sit in the back window. A fat, lop-sided, wall-eyed little Pug, looking entirely too pleased with himself.
And that’s the story of how Jar-jar escaped the Hell family to Florida.