This is a difficult entry to write as we all have mixed emotions about Yellowstone. Lets start with the good stuff. Yellowstone National Park has so many things to see that will never be seen anywhere else in the world. Geysers, hot springs, boiling mud pots, and thermal vents cover the lush green landscape. It was no surprise to learn that this is the largest active volcanic region in the world. When this place blows, it may very well take out a good chunk of the US. I can’t begin to tell you about the abundance of wildlife in this park. We have seen elk, bison, wolf, bear and prong horn antelope to name just a few. The bear and Bison are so abundant that you constantly find yourself avoiding fresh scat when you are hiking. It is no wonder why this place is so green, it receives tons of fresh steaming fertilizer everyday. One of the biggest surprises that we found was what is called the grand canyon of Yellowstone. We hiked the north rim trail and got to experience unbelievable sights including the yellow limestone cliffs that flanked the yellowstone river just as it fell hundreds of feet over lower Yellowstone falls. The ranger led hikes were great as they provided us with some fantastic hiking without the worry of trekking through the back country alone.

Now onto the not so great stuff. We seriously underestimated the size of this park. The parks borders cross into three states. The scale of this place really threw off my map reading skills while planning the trip. It looked like I picked a campground which was centrally located to all the major sights and attractions. I was not completely wrong. It’s just that everything is relative. Nebraska is also centrally located if you are talking about New York and California. So yes our campground is centrally located, but it still takes anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours to get to the major destinations in then park. So this means that you are driving a minimum of 3 hours a day to do anything. And when I say minimum, I mean minimum. If you are unlucky enough to encounter a heard of buffalo who decided to take a nap on the road, add another hour each way. This unfortunately is not rare. Don’t get me wrong, Buffalo are beautiful majestic creatures worthy of awe and respect, but after a few days of them, they just seem like dumb brown hairy cows with horns. If you think that is harsh please stop reading now because what comes next is much worse. The real problem with this park, is not the dumb brown cows. It is not the long drives to see some steam coming out of the ground. It is not even the constant smell of farts (sulphar) that permeates the air. It’s not the swarms of Mosquitos. Nor is it the park rangers chasing us out of every decent fishing spot that we found citing obscure regulations that make no sense. The real problem with this park in August is the freaking humans.
1. There are way too many of them
2. They are way too dumb
3. They all made the mistake of breeding
4. Their stupid offspring are constantly trying to commit suicide by touching things that they should not touch and jumping near cliffs that only lemmings would run towards.

Let me just give you a quick rundown of the things that we have seen in the last few days. First on the list was the mom and dad who encouraged the kids to reach into a pool of boiling sulphuric acid to see what it feels like on their hands. In addition to this stunt we have seen many people allowing their young kids to run wild on 300 foot cliffs. Others let their kids run off into the woods alone after being told that a grown man was mauled by a grizzly just a week earlier in the same spot while wandering off from the group to relieve himself in the woods. We have seen countless families approaching 500 pound 14 point elk as if they were the family dog. Don’t even get me started on the way that people deal with 3000 pound Bison with a rack of horns 3 feet across. Does it seem like a good idea to you to send your kids 5 feet in front of such an animal to get a good pic that you can post for your fake friends on facebook? There are warnings and stories posted everywhere about people getting gored, cars damaged, and people losing their lives to animal attacks, yet these things that we saw happened all day long! I won’t even get into the rudeness, pushing, shoving, and walmart esque behavior that we stumbled across at every turn.
Every traveler encounters a place that there minds wander too when they are not there. A place that you daydream about while stuck in your cubicle. A place that inspires you to save your pennies so that you can get back there as quick as possible. This is not that place. For this family Yosemite National Park is our daydream. We will be leaving Yellowstone early and exploring Colorado a little more than expected.

Oh yeah, I did promise to tell you the story about the ranger and the bear spray. So yesterday we went on a morning hike led by Park Ranger Chris Hannah. While traversing the landscape, ranger Hannah kept telling us important tips on how to deal with bear in Yellowstone. At the end of the hike he wanted to give us a few Tips about using bear spray. He started by showing us how to slide off the safety. Next he talked about the potency of the spray and explained that it is like the pepperspray that police use x5 and can spray up to 25 feet. Now keep in mind this was at the end of a very long hike. So as you could expect people were tired. Most tired of all were the young children who sat crossed legged at the rangers boots while he spoke. At this point Ranger Hannah was done explaining what bear spray was, now it was time to show how to properly use it. Please note that he never replaced the safety cover. He told us that it was best to deploy the spray from a kneeling position and aim squarely at the charging bear’s face. Ranger Hannah was no spring chicken, so jumping into the kneeling position was no easy feat. As he started his demonstration, the bear spray fell from his grip and landed squarely on the trigger. The spray deployed a 2 second burst of hell that found it’s way to several prize students standing upfront. Luckily these were all adults. All the children were spared. Two people took direct shots to the face and several others got a contact blow thanks to the wind. Fanny pack laden tourist were falling like flies. The coughing, choking, and crying quickly spread through the crowd. Being then only people with any sense, we had backed up 20 yards as soon as then canister hit then ground. Other just sat there in awe until the pepper spray cloud reached them. Sad but true story.