Monday, July 9, 2012

Adventures in Yellowstone with The Hillbilly

 Another story from my very own personal guest poster:
The Hillbilly!

For the last few posts, I have been talking about my family vacations and how I had to be tough to survive them.  When I turned twelve, we purchased a tent and a Coleman stove and began traveling.  Years later, we moved up to a small travel trailer.  Vacations became several days longer and covered many miles.

Until we got the trailer, we had so much gear our trunk wouldn’t hold it all. So the tent was folded into 2 sections that caused the back floor board to all be equal to the center hump.  We kids were sitting with our knees up to our chins.
Once upon a time, the drivetrain of the car left a hump down the center of the car. Even bigger than the ones they have now!
This wouldn’t have been bad if we had been only driving for a short distance, but on the first day, my parents would get us up at 1:00 AM, leave by 2:00 AM, and drive until almost sunset.  We would usually cover 3500 – 5000 miles in 9 days.  Fortunately, they would stop at different sites such as Royal Gorge to take pictures, etc.  Otherwise, we would have been crippled.
Royal Gorge
Royal Gorge, Colorado--A big deep hole.
At night, we froze to death.  It seemed like we never had enough blankets for the mountain temperatures.  For the next few years, we saw such parks as Zion, Bryce Canyon, Black Canyon, Yellow Stone, the Grand Tetons, the Great Sand Dunes, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Mount Rushmore, Mesa Verde, The Badlands,  The Petrified Forest, Olympic, and Banff, and Jasper national parks in Canada.  As you can see, most of our sightseeing was of nature’s wonders and not man-made.
Grand Tetons (I took this one -- Cynthia)
We did occasionally stop for museums and such, but most of the beauty we saw was by an Artist that was a little older and a little larger than man.  My appreciation of the great beauty and diversity of our country grew, but it has taken maturity to fully appreciate those things that I got to see!  As you will see as I go further with this vacation series, I wish we would have had a better camera!

Adventures in Yellowstone

The part of our trips I want to talk about today, is my first trip to Yellowstone.  I was twelve years old, pimply faced, taller than average, and I felt bigger than I was!  I was at an age where I felt that I had to be pretty good at everything that I tried.  As with most of us, I failed in some things and was successful in others.  It was in Yellowstone, where I found that I was not all that good at photography.  However, it wasn’t all my fault.  We had this stupid little camera (probably a Kodak).  It didn’t have a zoom; in fact it had very little adjustment of any kind.
Kodak Brownie Target Six-20
Stupid little camera
On top of that, where my parents were sending the film off for processing, they were getting some special deal where instead of getting a normal, full size picture, you got one small picture and two tiny (postage stamp size) pictures.  In other words, if you took a picture of a snow covered mountain, on the larger picture it looked like a mole hill with powdered sugar on top.  On the postage stamp pictures, it looked more like a pimple.  But hey, it was 3 pictures for the price of one – what a deal!

At any rate, my first trial at photography was on some elk.  They were out in an area that was too far for our camera.  So my dad says, “Grab the camera; we will see if we can get closer to them."  I am not sure that we were even supposed to walk in these areas, but we tried.  We were kind of running and jumping over small steaming streams of water like drunken ninjas in a failing attempt to sneak up on the elk who were neither drunken, blind, nor stupid.  The elk began running, so my dad and I jumped on this last little island, and I tried to snap a couple of pictures.

Excelsior Geyser Falls in Yellowstone
Small Steaming Streams of Water
By the way, the stupid island shook when we landed on it.  In fact Dad said, “Whoa, did you feel that shake?” and I am thinking yes I did!  I was thinking that we were probably about to fall through the earth’s crust and be boiled to death to get these pictures that when processed, would turn out to be a couple of blurred pictures of what I can only assume were hairy butts of elk.
Elks Mother with the young in Yellowstone NP
Hairy butts of elk.
Of course on the postage stamps pictures it was just small brown, blurry spots about the size of a punctuation mark.  We probably should have told everyone that they were a picture of Bigfoot.  With enough imagination working, some would probably have believed us.
 At any rate, things began looking up.  The first place we stopped where there were buildings, shops, etc., there was a sow (mother bear) with a roly poly cub of about 30 lbs. Henceforth we will refer to the cub as Billy Bob.  There were probably 100 people who were following along in kind of a horseshoe type pattern.  Most of these people had probably already seen several bears, but this was my first ever bear sighting!  That would soon change because we wound up seeing bears almost everywhere in Yellowstone that year.  At any rate, Dad tells my sister and me, “Hang back a little bit; if that cub lets out a squeal, the mom is liable to attack someone."  So we did. 
Picture NOT taken with a stupid little camera
As this procession moved on, we came to where there were parked cars.  One of them had a pretty, petite, brunette girl,about 14 years old, leaning over it and talking to someone inside.  Okay, I noticed her!  I am a guy!  As I have mentioned in past posts, I have always been a guy.  And yes, there seems to be a pattern there; Cynthia is pretty, petite, brunette, and my wife!  

But back to the young girl. The mother bear passed by within about 10 feet of her and Billy Bob passed by just a little bit closer.  He went about 6 feet and then turned his head and looked over his shoulder.  Then he turned around. He walked up behind her. Then he reared up and playfully nipped her on the butt!  The girl screamed and looked like The Flash running around and getting into the car!  

Everyone was stunned and waited to see how the mother bear would react.  She looked at Billy Bob and may have grunted.  When nothing else happened, we all died laughing.  Boy I wish I would have had a movie camera!

I have thought about this incident at various times and wondered what communication went on between the mother bear and Billy Bob.  I suspect it might have been something like this:
By the way, this should be read with a Southern accent!  Why, you might ask.  Well in the first place, I have somewhat of a Southern accent, and besides that, anyone or any bear named Billy Bob would have to have a Southern accent.  Get real!  

But back to the bears, I suspect that the mother bear said, (remember accent), “Billy Bob, why did you bite that nice young girl on the butt?"  And Billy Bob said, “I don’t know!  It was just sticking out there and it was kind of cute!  Ma, I just couldn’t hep myself!"   And the mother bear said, “Billy Bob, what am I going to do with you?  You are just such a guy!"

From the Hillbilly’s Corner 

I've never been to Yellowstone. I hope to go with The Hillbilly someday, but if he wants to chase elk, he's going to have to do it alone. Anyone else ever have any close encounters of the bear kind?