Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Drive on the Wild Side: Yellowstone National Park

I know I make a lot of reference to places and occasions from South Africa, but this is like my base of knowledge and so I will use it just to show that there are some brain cells floating in my head. And the great card of reference taken into account now is the “Rainbow Nations’” abundant supply of wildlife. From those pesky lions who most times refrain from wandering well-kept backyards, to those obnoxious things commonly known as Brothers, we have them all and many more. So considering this, I can almost count myself an expert on the ways of the wild. But when you enter the realms of another country, you will surely become as intelligent in this matter as our darling President Zuma and his knowledge on matters of state.

On the vast plains of Yellowstone there are many animals that wanderer about, causing many tourists to ooh and aah. Upon entering this park the bets started flying around the car. Kate was going to see Yogi Bear in his natural habitat, unfortunately she did not realise that Yogi Bear lived on her television screen, but then again we are talking about Kate. Carmen was adamant about seeing a wolf. I was all for seeing an Elk, I liked the sound of the word not the way the animal looked. And Kevin? He wanted to see a deer. Obviously living in New Jersey, where it is more common to have a deer in your backyard then a dog, had not deterred his appreciation of this fine creature.

We had not been in the vicinity of the park for more than five minutes when there sitting like a beast was a creature I had never before seen. It had the most frightening head on this very out of proportion body. So like the tourists we were and almost burning the brake pads out we came to a stop right beside this beast. Out the cameras were whipped, as we clicked away, being careful not to get too close. And while we were having this impromptu photo session cars were passing by with terrible facial expressions and holding up fingers that should have been left down, and not to mention the out of tune honking that was going on with the cars. Maybe they had just not yet seen the beast. I thought, when they see our awesome pictures they will feel deep regret for their unsatisfactory display of drama. So on we drive feeling very chuffed that we had spotted an animal so soon. Lady Luck must be taking a seat in this car. Two minutes up the road was a long line of cars parked on the side of a narrow road, with tourist spilling out of their cars aiming their very expensive foreign cameras far into the distant. So we pull in behind the last car and take our cameras out and start pointing, at what we are not quite sure of yet. And then I spot it, another one of those beast things standing so close by. I yell out excitedly to everyone that I had found it. I was going crazy. And then some kind person went on to inform these na├»ve souls that what I had just “found” was a Bison. By now I’m going wow, pretty neat. The name even sounds beastly. And then the next words poured out of his mouth, “They’re as common as cows here.” Now all I’m thinking is, I stopped to take a picture of a cow? What levels of tragic tourist had we dropped too that I cow would make an interesting focus for a picture?

The creature we had indeed been looking for that time was a wolf. A man with his ultra this and mega that with a super whatever camera had spotted it many miles away and so we had waited patiently to see it. When we spotted what looked like a movement in the bushes over the mountain, we determined that this was the wolf, snapped a picture of that moving bush and then headed on our way. Carmen’s wolf had not come out into the spotlight that time, but another opportunity would present itself. Driving around the park in the late hours of the night, after coming back from a rodeo, we were rushing along glad not to be travelling at 2 miles an hour. When suddenly in front of us this insane person had not come to the conclusion that he could at least up his speed to 5, so there with brakes leaving fire trails behind us we came to a sudden jolting stop. And what was there right by us, sniffing the very same air we were sniffing? A wolf. A very big and very magnificent wolf.  With the full moon shining down on it, it looked utterly unreal. And if I had not turned my head to make sure Kevin was sitting in the drivers seat, I would have almost thought it was him standing there in his werewolf form. The wolf did kind of strut about like Kevin, with a theme song of “I’m sexy and I know it,” blaring in its head. So Carmen had now really seen her wolf.

The next was Yogi Bear. After trying to inform Kate that Yogi Bear was not really real and failing (everytime we came near to the truth she held this expression on her face as if we had just told her candy was not really good for you and chocolate was not a food group on its own, it was that bad!), we decided to just tell her that he was on vacation and we would see his relatives instead. This made her happy enough. So as all the times before we had spotted this ridiculously long line of cars on the side of the road and so out we jumped cameras in hand rushing to who knows where. People stopped us asking what we were going to see and we very wisely answered, “To see that animal over there,” waving our fingers in every direction. The crowd on the top of the hill was ten feet deep so we wiggled our way through curious about what exactly we would find on the other side. And there was Yogi Bears little niece ambling along the mountainside with a throng of tourist following her like the paparazzi. The very brave or not so wise (depends on how you view this) Kevin and Carmen rushed up to take close ups of the bear. They were so close that when little Yogi’s niece had a tiny sneeze they could feel her blow them away. Kate and I, knowing that our cameras contained a wonderful zoom function opted to stay very far behind. Then the unexpected happened, the bear turned around and started walking towards the people! Kate and I who were 500 000 feet behind the crowd turned tail and quickly sprinted to the opposite side of the road, while Kevin and Carmen moved closer. At that moment if something had happened I was already planning what I would write in their obituaries, “Friends who had temporarily lost use of their brain failed to regain their sanity when they made friends with a bear. They are now living with the spirits of the long departed, and I hope they never regain their sanity because I just know Kevin will be kicking himself that Shana and Kate turned out to be smarter.” They did manage to safely displace themselves from Yogi’s niece and we ended up with some really great pictures in the process.

So I got to see some really unique creatures on this vacation and see the wild side come out in my friends. To all the places I have been to so far, I really did enjoy Yellowstone. It was a place of which I knew nothing so I was like those tourist we all get annoyed of, it was a really invigorating experience to be like that. I’m already booking my next trip there; I hope I will spot some of you with your fancy gadgets popping out of cars on the side of the road when I stop by next time.

Safe travels! 

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