The world seems to have taken a wrong turn at common sense, going left when all signs say go right. How else to explain the recent National Park Follies summer show in Wyoming?
Usually, Yellowstone National Park is the headliner, but this time, for a change, let’s give the reckless stupidity award to people visiting Grand Teton.
In mid-August, that Park’s officials had to close Signal Mountain Summit Road temporarily because tourists were feeding bears. The bears got so into the freebies they began making aggressive bluff charges at visitors and staff members.
It was not said what goodies the bears were fed. Perhaps the Skittles and Tootsie Roll Pops good old Mongo the bull likes to lap up when greeting tourists at Stampede Park rodeos.
This was a throwback offense, harkening back to the days when Yellowstone staff fed bears on a timetable to entertain visitors. But that activity has been banned for years.
Bears do bite the hands that feed them. They also come to expect handouts from people, creating problems when an unsuspecting visitor shows up empty-handed. Park policies warn people not to walk within 100 yards of big, honkin’ animals like bears and bison lest they end up in the emergency room.
Likewise, thermal features may be fascinating to gaze at, but are not for swimming, or for seeing how close you can get without being scorched.
Tell that to a dude in Yellowstone who set off a hullabaloo by marching across the surrounding land of Old Faithful for a closer look than is recommended or allowed.
This is a mutual protection zone, designed to protect the fragile landscape and designed to protect the fragile human body from first-degree burns. This is obvious to 99.9 percent of those who come to admire the geyser when it blows its top.
Yellowstone has bleacher seating to accommodate hundreds of people positioning themselves in comfort from a decent distance to watch as steam and boiling water shoot skyward.
Imagine the surprise of the crowd gathered one recent day when a lone man paraded across the fragile zone to approach the geyser to take a close-up picture.
Issuing the appropriate response, the crowd booed him. Demonstrating a more arrogant comeback than the original traipse, he flipped the bird at his hecklers and walked off into the sunset.
A follow-up report from the Park Service indicated the guy made a clean getaway, but the rangers were still looking for him. Wonder what that conversation will be like before charges are filed. Also for a change, there was a Yellowstone incident where the tourist was not at fault, but was the victim.
One driver caught in a bison jam which turned into a bison stampede of 50 or more animals, was admiring the wildlife. Then, bam! A big-headed bison ran headlong into his grill, shaking the car and cracking the windshield.
Recorded on video, the driver lamented not buying the rental car company insurance. But really, it was the bison’s fault for running with its head down. And, of course, not looking both ways before crossing the street.