Friday, July 2, 2010

Yellowstone Needs To Be ROPED OFF!!!

First let me tell you this is not a safe place to visit. Entering the park a sheet of paper is handed to us and the park ranger says in her toothy grin “Welcome to Yellowstone, please give me $25 and enjoy your stay, here is some valuable survival information." Suddenly, a flashback from Jurassic Park comes to my mind. The fear is immediately escalated when the little yellow pamphlet I’m reading reads “100 wildlife animals are killed each year by drivers driving too fast! Stay at 45 miles per hour!! Look lady this park is huge and we only have a day and a half, at 45mile per hour that just isn’t going to cut it, we have a huge area to cover in a short amount of time, but thanks for the warning. The other warning…Bears! and a LIST of instructions of how to keep safe avoiding an attack. How about this idea… don’t go into to areas where there are bears at all! Next, a road sign with a wild bison GORING a person from behind reads “don’t approach the Bison..” noted! BE WARE falling rocks, Don’t step off the path around the hot pools of boiling magma and ATTENTION all guests you will be driving on a volcano!!.. What in the world are we doing here! This whole place needs to be roped off!
The first thing we notice (as we are going 46 miles an hour) is the strange lack of darting wildlife or ANY wildlife for that matter. Evidently, the director of the Yellowstone animal program was off the day and forgot to have someone else queue the animals to come out. After about 40 miles in, we finally see Bison, one very large Elk and a darting doe, but we see many of those darting deer in Oregon so I’m expecting a little more bang for our buck people! After realizing 45 miles/hr was not going to get us to the northern part where the wildlife must be having a party, we stumbled across visitor center. Inside were many wild animals to look at, FINALLY, and up close, only they were dead and stuffed. The local taxidermist must be the big guy on campus around here! At least we know at ONE time there was living wild life in Yellowstone. After a few days on the road journeying to Yellowstone and now driving through this massive region we are convinced the tourism industry would cash in on travelers, who are parents, if they sold a little care package of Spanish coffee and ear plugs. For instance making our way through only half the park and hearing:

CHILD: What was that thing that explodes?
PARENT: A Geyser
(15 minuts later)
CHILD: Are we going to see… wait what was that called?

CHILD: oh yeah, are we going to see more?

(15 miles later )

CHILD: Are those the Glaciers?

PARENTS: they are called Geysers!!!

So you can see after that conversation and many miles of the age old “are we almost there” people start to go a little nuts. It was the moment I heard in the back one of the boys making up a song “Hey girl… I think I love ya.. Hey girl…you are awesome… hey girl…”-- "OK! we needed to find another tourist trap fast”. We found the grand canyon of Yellowstone (above) which is absolutely stunning. One guy even said to his entire group “see I told you this was the money shot” sadly the guy must not have realized there was a whole gift shop up the road with his “money shot” already being marketed. If only he journeyed with the early settlers and had a camera with him or a paint brush. Poor Guy, probably feels like me always a a day late dollar short.

Alarming to see a parent who thought it was a good idea to let their child, (a new walker none the less) walk freely around spewing hot geysers. Now that’s a good idea!!! “Say there.. did anyone see where little Hugo went? He was just right here standing next to this bubbling pool of hot minerals?"

Old Faithful was once again faithful, but we did see a rare eruption of the beehive geyser that only erupts every 5 days or 10 hours (see photo), and after about a 20 minute wait BOOM it went off, winning the face off between my youngest son who was just complaining that it was never going to go off and “whennnarewegonnago” wining. We then waited patiently for Old Faithful to give us her performance. Evidently, after an earthquake a few years ago, she goes off about every 90 minutes. BUT, if you want to see something else erupt earlier than that, just go to the front desk hotel reservation clerk between eruptions and watch tourists ask her “when is old faithful going to go off”? Apparently, when she signed up to work at the “Old Faithful Inn” for her college summer job, she didn’t see the fine print in her welcome packet reading:

“You will be working by the famous geyser “Old Faithful” where travelers come from near and far to see this world famous volcanic event and pay lots of money to stay here which helps pay your wage, giving you a job and a free ticket to party with other summer staff. Be sure to smile and at least "ACT" like you care, as you witness the hourly spewing of 7th wonder of the world (all while getting paid which you will most likely take for granted by hour 3 because, well, you are 20) keeping in mind some guests just missed the last spewing and will be super excited and wonder when the next spew will take place. Please tell them this information without an attitude. (since the time is tracked for you and no math is required on your part) After-all this is what we do here and why we track the geysers for our guests and take their money for various goods and services, All you have to do is open your big toothy grin and tell them what time the explosion is estimated to happen all without an attitude…okay? Okay then…. Have a great summer! -Yellowstone Resort President.

Then it happened, I overheard the most shocking question by one traveler who I heard in the bathroom asking another older traveler “Excuse me, we haven’t seen Old Faithful blow yet and have and 8 hour drive back, is it worth it to stay?” If only I could see the other lady’s face, but heard her dumfounded response (said in a Texas accent) “well yer here, you should see it”. Giggling from the 3rd stall over I thought “are you kidding me? did she really just ask someone is it worth it to see a spewing geyser that the state of Wyoming has built a whole resort around with bleachers surrounding this massive hole, where postcards, blankets, cups, videos, and grumpy summer college staff find out that they don’t get to push A big red button for any of the geysers to go off, that the earth gets to decide the timing, and you ask is it worth it? Honey, go get your free Spanish coffee, take your seat and relax!

Leaving the park in one piece and without any wild life attached to our hood, we were amazed by what we saw, even though a very dangerous place, we thought it was worth the risk. “Hey Mom and Dad what were those things called that exploded”? “GEYSERS!!!


  1. you are a great storyteller courtney... (i think i accidentlly left a comment under my husband's name..?) anyways, i just wanted to tell you my favorite story from you, is the one where you shut your pinky in the trunk of your car... :)

  2. Chaundra.. that's funny you remember that, I had that on my idea list of posts, so maybe I'll work that in soon. At least to warn others of the danger of that move! :) thanks for your note, and for reading, glad you like the posts.
    Happy 4th!

  3. AnonymousJuly 11, 2010

    Hey dear, can't to talk with you all about Yellowstone - I worked there during the bicentennial in '&23 and loved it, wished I could have gone back. I made no money, but lots of friends and who can argue with having time to get off the trails...I'll have to tell you stories about the animals and the stupid stuff the visitors do when they do see the wildlife....

  4. Once upon a time, when I was about ten years old, I visited Yellowstone National Park with my parents. And on arrival, I boldly asked the hotel concierge, and bellboy, and tour guide, and park ranger the ultimate number two tourist question: "Why is this place called yellow stone?" :)

    All danger aside, I hope the Spears family had a fun time. It's a beautiful place to visit and puts you in awe of creation! I highly recommend it for those of you who haven't been. And I encourage you to ask the questions! :)

    I would go back, but I may be on their hit list!? :( Our next family vacation was Big Bear Lake! :D