Sunday, July 8 – Amazing Acts of Dumbness

It’s been kind of crazy here for the past couple of weeks as we’ve been on the go pretty much non-stop. After a visit from Mary Ann’s cousin, Char, my sister, Joanie, and brother-in-law, George, spent a week with us. We enjoyed both visits and did a lot of sight seeing.

Unfortunately, along the way we had the “opportunity” to view some amazing acts of dumbness that simply took our breath away and definitely warrant mention in this blog.

Bison grazing in a roadside field

The bison population as of 2011 was estimated at 3700 (the number HAS to be estimated because, in spite of the Park Services most ambitious efforts, the bison simply refuse to participate in census surveys). These magnificent beasts (which resemble cows in Viking costumes) wander pretty much wherever they want which frequently means on or near roads. Visitors stop their cars in the middle of the road, often blocking travel in both directions, in order to get photos of bison. This often involves getting out of their cars and standing dangerously close to the bison. Any regard for personal safety or anyone else who may wish to continue WITHOUT stopping is non-existent.

The default legal speed limit on park roads is 45 mph unless otherwise posted. Lower speed limits are posted in congested areas, near intersections, and on particularly tight curves. Many visitors seem to have the attitude that because they are on vacation and have paid their park entry fee, they may go as fast or as slow as they wish regardless of the posted limit or anyone that may be behind them. It’s not uncommon to have to sit behind someone meandering along at 20 mph so as not to miss a single sight while they pass pullout after pullout, denying anyone behind them a chance to pass. It’s also common to have someone impatiently ride your tail as you travel at the posted speed. We learned recently of a bad traffic accident in which at least one victim was airlifted and that was apparently caused by a driver going too fast down a hill with a sharp curve that he couldn’t negotiate.

But perhaps the most amazing act of dumbness EVER is one George caught on video while travelling back from a visit to Old Faithful. A large bull elk (estimated Yellowstone elk population as of 2011 approximately 4500) had wandered out onto the road, not only stopping traffic in BOTH directions, but also prompting cars to head the WRONG way on the road. Note the look of the dumbfounded beast in this photo (car is headed the wrong way on the road, directly in George’s lane of traffic):

Note the elk looking at the car headed the wrong way, as if to say: "You're kidding, right?"

With all traffic in both directions at a standstill, some folks got out of their cars to POSE FOR PICTURES WITH THE ELK! (Signs are posted throughout the park warning that the animals are wild and dangerous. But they can be disregarded because you are on vacation and you paid your park entry fee.) George caught it all on the video below. Note the father of the children, skillfully and authoritatively ushering his children into proper photographic positions and then, in the last few seconds of the video, actually HIDING BEHIND HIS DAUGHTER as the elk moves in their direction! Note to unidentified father: thanks for inspiring this entry and particularly its title.

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2 Responses to Sunday, July 8 – Amazing Acts of Dumbness

  1. Love the elk video. Amazing what people will do for a photo op.
    Read your blogs – what an exciting trip yet somewhat dangerous at times. So be careful!. Hope to see the photos someday. Happy adventures to you both. Takr care.

  2. char says:

    I am so glad you got your moose picture…It is fantastic and definitely worth the wait! The elk video is priceless, but please don’t share it with any ranger as I think it has the potential to cause a heart attack or stroke!