Yellowstone – A Responsive Prayer

August 14th, 2010

We went to Yellowstone.

I shit you not.

While we were there three people were mauled by a grizzly bear in the Soda Butte campground which is just outside of Yellowstone National Park.

I shit you not.

One of those people died.

I shit you not.

Three dangerous and desperate escaped convicts were hiding out in the area.

I shit you not.

We were there on the busiest day or the busiest month of the busiest year in Yellowstone for fifteen years.

I shit you not.

We got up at six a.m. to secure a campsite in Yellowstone (we were driving from Grand Teton only thirty miles away) but when we arrived, the campgrounds were already full for the day.

I shit you not.

Thirty miles in Yellowstone is like a hundred and thirty miles everywhere else in the world.

I shit you not.

Once you’ve seen one inactive geyser, mudpot, fumarole, sulphuric hot springs, and travertine terrace – you’ve seen them all.

I shit you not.

A waterfall looks the same from the top as it does from the bottom as it does from either side as it does from a distance as it does close up.  There is really no need to hike up and down mountains just to view it from another angle.  It’s not like it is going to change into evening wear or turn a different color.

I shit you not.

The Tetons are gorgeous.  Go there.  Skip Yellowstone entirely or drive thorough it briskly (even though that is impossible).

I shit you not.

Because Yellowstone is a scary place with bears that will kill you, bison that will gore you, escaped convicts that will terrorize you and geysers that sit there and do nothing no matter how long you wait and try to will them to erupt.

I shit you not.

Also  - Yellowstone sits atop a volcano that could erupt at any time.

I shit you not.

I have a new found love for highly contrived vacation spots that have nothing to do with nature and everything to do with marketing.

I shit you not.

I have officially exorcised the demon called ‘camping’ from my being.  From now on my vacation motto is thus -

“If you can’t afford the hotel room, you can’t afford to go.”

I shit you not.

Day by day, hour by hour, minute by terrifying minute of our Yellowstone vacation on it’s way.  Prepare to be scared shitless.

I shit you not.

And all the people said

Amen.

Comments

  • carole:

    Glad to know you survived! Good golly gee Rechelle, ya left and didnt leave a note. We were worried about you…maybe she had heat stroke, maybe she was gored by a bear, maybe she was kidnapped by escapees from prison, maybe one of the kids got hurt ( i take this one back!), maybe she broke her wrist trying to pull weeds from the garden.
    Glad the mystery is over, that you are safe, and the next installment is forthcoming.
    welcome home!

    • Rechelle:

      Sorry Carole – I had hoped to post from the road, but it proved impossible. Nice to take a break from cyberspace anyway.

    • Lori:

      Yellowstone in July and August is hell…I SHIT YOU NOT.
      Jackson Hole is just that, A hole.
      I grew up in the area but never went to Jackson I was nineteen and that was because I was going to school in Idaho and I was old enough to buy liquor in Wyoming.
      Amazing, isn’t it, that Grizzlies are a federally protected animal?
      They’ve been protected so much they hunt humans.
      They also have fun with cattle and sheep but the feds don’t care much if we lose a half a dozen $500 calves a year to a bear.
      Such a civilized country we live in!

      Did you fly into Idaho Falls or Jackson or did you drive?
      If you drove did you come through Evanston, Cokeville and Afton, Wyoming? If so, you drove right through my town.
      I shit you not.
      Not that you knew but I am a gracious host. I make far more food than you could ever eat, I don’t give a damn about your politics and my husband is not an arrogant prick. Oh. I never say ‘help me rhonda’, My words are ‘son of a bitch!’

      Try our part of the country earlier or later and you’ll enjoy much more!

      Later….

      Lori

      • Rechelle:

        Lori – We actually took the exact same trip on our honeymoon a hundred years ago, but that visit occurred in May and you are right – it was much more relaxed and enjoyable. Of course I also did not have four boys with me either!

  • Spinny:

    OMG, NOT FAIR!! I WAS IN YELLOWSTONE THEN, TOO.

    *cries*

    I could have met Rechelle if I’d only have known how to stalk her.

    *sobbing*

    My favoritest part were the bison. So fun to watch from the safety of my car :)

    • Rechelle:

      Spinny – this is a sad moment for me. Dang it! It would have made this trip so much more tolerable to have sat in age old Yellowstone Inn and drank a glass of eight dollar wine from a plastic cup together!

      • Spinny:

        That would have been awesome!

        And while the wine my hubby and I had at the Old Faithful Inn was tasty, it was most certainly NOT worth the $8/glass we paid for it.

        I preferred the tiny bottles of wine we brought with us. Still tasty and far less expensive.

        Next time I go anywhere, I’ll make sure to advertise. I’ll where a shirt that says, “If you are Rechelle Unplugged, please talk to me!!”

        • Martha in Kansas:

          That’s it! We need t-shirts so we can all find each other! Here’s the big question — would Charles wear one too?

  • Deborah:

    Yes, the first time I went to Yellowstone, I had the same reaction. Why in the world was this the first national park in the USA? During my next visit, some 25 years later, and arriving in the middle of JUNE, I, and my kids, loved it. Elk, bison, coyote, a WHITE grizzley bear, geysers that did go off spectacularly, beautiful fields of wild flowers, waterfalls that were of different majesty depending on how you looked at them, hawks and eagles soaring over canyons so deep and spectacular. NOW, I know why Yellowstone was preserved first and foremost.

    Rechelle, never fear that your death may come by grizzley or volcanic action. Always fear the tourist that stops his giant RV in the middle of the road to take a picture of a buffalo. And curse him, please.

    • Spinny:

      Worse are the people that stop on the side of the road and get out to get a closer look at the bear that’s charging down the hill toward them.

      Or the parent that lets their teenager get within a yard or two of the enormous bull elk with the largest rack I’ve ever seen. Also stupid are all the people who were standing around just watching said teenager who was “hiding” behind a sapling taking pictures. As we drove by this scene, my 10 year-old in the back seat said, “What the heck! What parent thinks THAT’S ok!?!?

  • km:

    bison, shmison. my feet are aching from plodding around Washington DC today. My kids raced each other to the lincoln memorial, complete with a big jump into a massive mud puddle. I had the filthiest kids in DC.
    Can’t take the country out ……………..

  • My motto has always been and will always be-I don’t camp!

  • linda:

    In 1963 we camped at Yellowstone (I was just a babe) and my Mom gave a Grizzley a piece of saltwater taffy through the Ford Falcon wing window. By the way….your boys and husband are babes!

  • linda:

    GRIZZLY…….SORRY……SPELLED WRONG. May your trails be free of Griz.

  • Tracy:

    Gorgeous family! Thanks for coming back; I missed you!

  • Camping to me is staying in a 3 star hotel.

    I cannot imagine actually sleeping in a tent /or a campground with loads of weird, creepy people) BY CHOICE. I think you’re rather brave… or you just like to be tortured… I’m not sure which.

  • Wish I would have read this post BEFORE my colonoscopy. It was much easier to digest than the nasty stuff I had to drink…I shit you not!

    Keep writing, we’re reading.

  • Jo:

    Welcome back. I missed your posts.

  • The crowds are the very reason I have hesitated for years to go see Yellowstone. Now that my kids are both out of the house, maybe we can travel there in the off-season. We did Yosemite last year and I have to say, I was really in awe of the beauty of that park. Somewhat crowded there but not even close to the pics. I have seen of Yellowstone.

  • LucyJoy:

    I must state, that I LOVE Yellostone! It’s my favorite National Park,we saw a wolf in Yellowstone years ago, but yes, the Teton’s *are* gorgeous…Maybe my favorite part of Yellowstone is the fact that we have to go through Jackson, WY to get there. The National Museum of Wildlife Art is fantastic…I hope you got to visit. http://www.wildlifeart.org/

    I’ve never been able to understand people getting out of their cars, walking up to a big ‘ol bull bison & snapping pictures. That big hump on it’s nec, is a big hump-O-mean…They can snap at any moment! Stupid…

    Glad you’re back! Missed you!

  • Lori:

    Post two of the same words.

    I learned something today.
    If you want your reply to be at the end of the comment area you have to post at the end of the comment area; you just can ‘reply’ anywhere.
    So, because I am somewhat neurotic and little insecure I cut my words in the middle of the comment area and pasted them at the end. I could not bear you not reading my words…..

    Lori:

    Yellowstone in July and August is hell…I SHIT YOU NOT.
    Jackson Hole is just that, A hole.
    I grew up in the area but never went to Jackson I was nineteen and that was because I was going to school in Idaho and I was old enough to buy liquor in Wyoming.
    Amazing, isn’t it, that Grizzlies are a federally protected animal?
    They’ve been protected so much they hunt humans.
    They also have fun with cattle and sheep but the feds don’t care much if we lose a half a dozen $500 calves a year to a bear.
    Such a civilized country we live in!

    Did you fly into Idaho Falls or Jackson or did you drive?
    If you drove did you come through Evanston, Cokeville and Afton, Wyoming? If so, you drove right through my town.
    I shit you not.
    Not that you knew but I am a gracious host. I make far more food than you could ever eat, I don’t give a damn about your politics and my husband is not an arrogant prick. Oh. I never say ‘help me rhonda’, My words are ‘son of a bitch!’

    Try our part of the country earlier or later and you’ll enjoy much more!

    Later….

    Lori

  • Samantha:

    Glad your back Rechelle, you have been GREATLY missed!

    And National Parks are supposed to be about preservation of the land as best it can be and the animals etc are part of it….it isn’t supposed to be a safe and clean theme park, it’s nature up close and personal. And wildlife isn’t the problem in National Parks it’s man that’s usally the problem and mainly too many of them acting like, well, man….anyway you are a riot -I shit you not!

    oh and your family are some fine-lookers indeed!

    • Samantha:

      oops! Glad YOU”RE back

  • Missed you- figured you were on vacation- can’t wait for the details!

  • julie:

    Hi Rechelle. Even though this trip was not all you hoped, it still sounds as though the family did better than at the conclusion of the Great European Vacation of 2009! Everyone is smiling and the Country Doctor appears to have kept himself out of trouble.

  • Missed that this was a responsive prayer upon first reading. That and the fact that your family picture is of the “Leaving” Yellowstone sign. You make me smile. We live close enough to visit more than once a year and that is definately the way to see Yellowstone. It is not a one day or even a one visit park. I must say my son shares your view of fumeroles. http://aaaamom.blogspot.com/2008/10/let.html

  • The one and only time I was in Yellowstone was on our honeymoon 29 years ago. We got the very last “camping spot” (the size of a parking lot space), went to a “secret” but crowded hot springs for a swim (upon the direction of a ranger) and then promptly checked out and moved on. WAY too crowded for us.
    I was reading a book about grizzly maulings on the trip. Um. Yeah. Made my new husband walk me to the privy every night while we camped at Glacier N’tl park too. He thought it was hilarious.

  • Cliff:

    Thanks for the laugh this morning:)

  • Cool! This sounds like my type of vacation.

    In Bill Bryson’s book A Short History of Everything, there’s an entire chapter on Yellowstone and the fact that it’s one big volcano caldera. If I would have read this book before my first trip to Yellowstone, I would not have gone.

    When I went to Yellowstone, I went alone and I slept with a hatchet every night.

    I also slept with a hatchet when I camped in Memphis. Yes, you heard that correctly. I camped in the city limits of Memphis once. I didn’t sleep a wink.

    On your next visit to Yellowstone, you should consider a back country, overnight hike. Good times.

    • Rechelle:

      muddywaters – Never in a million years would I venture into Yellowstone back country. The ‘front country’ was terrifying enough.

  • You guys are just not having very good luck with your summer vacations! I’m glad to hear that was the reason for your hiatus, even if it was a little rough. I worry when there are long silences.

  • susan:

    GAWD I am glad you are back….I was concerned. I thought maybe your life had taken another direction but I knew you had just set up your new site so didnt think you had abandoned us.

  • Lois:

    Oh my, I need to stop laughing and breathe.

    We’ve done a lot of mountain camping in Colorado, but I’ve never been as cold as when we camped in Yellowstone. Our then teenage daughter wasn’t comfortable “spooning” for warmth, so in the middle of the night I told her to go to the “boy” tent, get in one of the warmer sleeping bags and send her father the heck over to me! We ended up buying two waaay-overpriced-national-park-store-extra-warm sleeping bags before the sun set the following evening.

    The scariest thing in our Yellowstone experience (besides the people who made a ring around around a bull moose) was the ranger who was quite certain that we didn’t maintain our campsite with the amount of diligence required to keep the bears at bay. As we had always managed to keep our Colorado bears at bay, all we needed was to figure out was how to keep the cranky ranger at bay. I think it involved something like, “Look, ma’am, it’s not like we’re ignorant lowlanders…” (apologies to all who live at elevations lower than 6,600 ft, like, um, er…Kansans <>).

    My daughter has since learned that spooning is preferable to frostbite.

    I think the kids in my 5th-6th grade church choir could really get into your interactive prayer, but I’ll refrain from teaching it to them just yet.

  • I read about that awful attack in the paper. How sad.

    Gosh Rechelle, your oldest boy is now as tall as his dad? Wow!! Great picture. :)

  • kimj:

    Well, apparently, Yellowstone is a popular honeymoon spot for many! We drove through Yellowstone on our honeymoon 26 years ago – on our way to Lake Louise, Canada. We decided that we’d camp along the way to save money, but when the first campground that we came to in West Yellowstone, Montana had a sign that said, “High Bear Frequency, No Tents,” that was enough for me to stop the campground search and head for a motel! We did camp one night near Helena, MT, but didn’t sleep a wink. Every noise I heard I thought was a bear. That was the end of our attempts at camping for the rest of the trip! We did enjoy Yellowstone, but was much younger, and had no kids along…well, except for Dane. :)

  • Kristin:

    My family & I feel exactly as you do about Yellowstone but have never expressed it as eloquently as you have. Camped in Grand Teton & thankfully only did Yellowstone for a day…a LOOONG day…a long hellish, hot, sulfurous, too many people inching along at the pace of snails while they looked at elk & bison day. I don’t know if we’ll ever go back, but we’d love to go back to the Tetons.

  • Rechelle, you are my hero! You just summed up every family vacation I ever had as a child growing up. Thanks for the hysterics!

  • My hubby and I went through the Tetons and Yellowstone on our honeymoon 25 years ago – we saw the Grand Canyon too – we were crazy young and liked to drive! We also are camping, hiking, fishing, hunting folks so I absolutely loved hiking in the Tetons. However, we did ride the boat across Jenny Lake once too :)

    Yellowstone is beautiful – and better in the fall. We went back a few years ago in the summer and ohmygawd the idjit tourists were everywhere. We saw lots of stupid people putting their kids in the road to take photos with a bison and a moose in one place. They are wild animals folks – not Disney-fied ! I do recall being a bit nervous when a bear was ambling through everyone’s (tent) campsite one night right around dinnertime – we decided that was a good time to leave and go for a walk elsewhere.

    While there are some absolutely amazing things to see in Yellowstone it is just too much humanity in one place for me and a lot of time driving it seems. I really prefer the Tetons – they are just stunning. Being up on top of one of the old gondola lines at 14,000 feet is awe inspiring!

    Anyway – I’m glad you survived even though it sounds like it wasn’t one of your types of vacations – your boys will be glad they’ve seen it!
    Glad to have you back :)

  • And next time you use your bloggy contacts who work for the park concessionaire and can pull strings. I SHIT YOU NOT. Weren’t you supposed to look me up when you hit Rushmore? Where’s that post?

    • Um, that wasn’t supposed to be all mean and angry. Just a hey lady, how come I missed you? I was looking forward to buying you some coffee! And some ice cream for the boys! The CD would have shined on with admiration at your frugalness.

      (P.S. My son has the same wolf. If you actually stay in a hotel room in YNP, there’s one in your room. Or maybe a bison. Or a moose. Or something else. – there’s 4. Talk about a parent’s nightmare. “No sweetie, you can look at the nice stuffed animal all week, but we aren’t taking it home.” Uh-huh. We have a wolf and a bison. Suckers!)

      • Rechelle:

        Bdaiss – Sorry – we hoped to make it to Mount Rushmore, but pooped out at Cody and headed south to home. We do hope to get up there someday.