Well, the Hansons just got back from a whirlwind trip to the granddaddy of them all, Yellowstone National Park. If you have never been there, which I find hard to believe because it seemed as though everyone and their brother was there this past week, you should definitely go. Despite the fact that Yellowstone is the most visited National Park in the U.S.A., there is plenty of room to get away from the crowds. In fact, there's so much seemingly uninhabited space in Yellowstone, it seems as though it would be easy to permanently lose yourself there, you know, if you were on the lam from the law, or just needed to get away from the kids for a few decades. Not that that thought ever crossed my mind while we were out there...
I could probably fill several blog posts with intriguing stuff that happened on our trip to Yellowstone, but, for the time being, I will try to cram it all in this one. Let's get started, shall we?
1. First of all, all the books and other reference guides you will read about Yellowstone will mention the potential wildlife you can see when you visit. It's true that there is a lot of wildlife in the park, but 99% of the animals you will see will be bison, or "buffalo", as 99% of people incorrectly call them, myself included. During our 3.5 days at Yellowstone, we saw approximately 4 billion bison, 8 mule deer, 6 elk (5 of which were in somebody's backyard in the town of Mammoth Hot Springs), the tiny head of a black bear cub as it peeked over the prairie grass, 1 pelican, 0 moose, 0 wolves, 1 yellow bellied marmot, and 70 billion mosquitoes. We actually had a bison walk through our campsite as we were getting ready for breakfast one morning, but it had already become so commonplace to see them, we just invited it over to have some pancakes with us. Ho hum.
2. As I mentioned there were copious amounts of mosquitoes, which I still don't understand. The only bodies of water in the park are swift-moving coldwater rivers, icy mountain lakes that are too cold to touch with your bare skin, and boiling hot cauldrons of acid-laced water that almost nothing can live in. So where are all these mosquitoes coming from? I don't get it. The mosquitoes back here in Minnesota are about three times bigger than the ones in Yellowstone, but the Yellowstone ones seemed a lot more annoying. The only thing I can figure is that they must suffer from "short mosquito syndrome". They were, by far, the worst part of the trip.
3. I had no idea before we went, but Yellowstone is a great place to learn about Asian cultures. I did a random survey in my brain, and it turns out that at least 75% of all the visitors in the Park are from one Asian country or another. I've never met so many Chinese people in my whole life. Generally speaking, the Asians we met were very friendly people. Except for the one Asian kid who I witnessed get out of the minivan he was traveling in with his family, and fling his dad's iPad about 30 feet into a bunch of sagebrush. He then went running off, cackling with delight, while his dad quietly walked over, picked it up, and did nothing to reprimand his little turd of a child. I would have smacked him upside the head my own self, but didn't want to start an international incident.
4. I've never said this before, but I think the U.S. government needs to raise our taxes. Yellowstone is full of really tall mountains, and to get from one end of the park to the other, you are required to drive up and down some of those mountains. That's all well and good, but those of us who happen to be precipiceophiles (afraid of sheer cliffs) would like a few more guardrails installed, thank you very much. Is that too much to ask? I'd happily pay the government a dollar or two extra to make that happen.
Other than the precipices and mosquitoes, we all had a wonderful time in Yellowstone National Park. If you are a huge fan of bison, it should be tops on your list of places to go. Maybe you can share your pancakes with one, like we did. I would assume they'd like french toast, too, if that's all you've got.