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20 January, 2017

The Worst Family Vacation Ever


                  This is the story of the wildest, funniest and absolutely, for ME, the worst family vacation ever.  My family loved it.  I hated it.  You will soon see why!





                   
                 Kids DO the dumbest things.  Especially teenagers.   I was one of those once. It got worse as I got older, and then became a mother.


These are my Yellowstone Aventures
                      The problem all started years before I ever became a mother.  At the unintelligent age of 15, I  walked right up to a young black bear at a wayside picnic table area.  Big mistake!

                     There was a crowd watching it from a distance, tossing food to it.  Emboldened by the crowd and with the cockiness of a typical teenager, I had to get closer and try to feed it by hand  - five feet away.   

                    The bear wasn’t having any of that.  Tossing food to it was one thing, but an approaching human meant danger.  

                     Of course the next thing I knew, everybody was scrambling in terror towards their cars, loudly screaming, including me!!  



                     The bear had just charged me!  I think even Dale Earnhart  (famous stock car driver in NC) would have approved of my NASCAR entry through my car window. 
                        Ingrate bear!   That was my last sandwich, too.  I was lucky I didn't get eaten alive.
                        Some boldness episodes leave you totally super stupid. 
                         I just didn’t seem to learn from my mistakes. 

                                       This was one of those times.
                       Years later, when I was a mom of just two of my (three) young sons, my then-hubby (there have been four!) and I decided to go to Yellowstone National Park.  It is breath-taking beautiful there.   Tons of wildlife to see everywhere!

                      On the road through the gorgeous park, there were herds of buffalo grazing close to the cars.   I whispered loudly at my hubby to stop and let me get a great camera shot out the passenger window.  Me and my camera, yeah, always trouble brewing.


                  There was this huge buffalo, head down, grazing, about a foot from the car!  We stopped slowly and hubby eased up next to it so I could get a good photo.   



                  As I was twisting my 35 mm out the window to get a picture of his head, the stupid buffalo grunted, whipped around … and suddenly drove a horn through the passenger door where I was sitting!   It SHOOK the car up and down like paper until the horn came out!           

                            I think I peed myself right then and there.



                My family at the age this episode happened. My youngest son was a twinkle in my eye then.


Old Faithful in modern times.



The good old days. Brad, my oldest,  at Yellowstone.  Old Faithful doesn't spew big like that anymore!

                     Kids screamed, I screamed, hubby yelled.     Buffalo just looked at me with one giant eyeball about three inches from my face!    And moved away slowly huffing in disgust.  Well, that worked well …  we calmed down and MOVED ON.

                  From there it just went downhill for ME at Yellowstone...
 
                  We found a tent campsite and unloaded the car.  After setting up our tents, I took my youngest son, David, then ten months old, for a walk to explore.    

                 There were wild things everywhere!  A herd of elk was feeding just beyond the road by the campground.  I tried to approach a grazing elk cow on that peaceful grassy knoll, by climbing over a huge fallen tree trunk in my path, to get close so that ten month old DAVID could see.   

                                                 Right ….



                     Quietly I stalked forward, carrying my little David in my arms.  The elk cow raised her head and stared real  hard at me.  I should have read that body language.

                   Then, that female elk became an instant fiend, whipped around and full-on CHARGED us!   



                     Panicked, I threw little David under the huge fallen tree we'd just climbed over, and launched myself towards my own escape back over it!   Only then did I see the elk CALF that had been lying right under that  fallen tree.   I knew right then and there why she had charged me! 

                   I ran, tried to jump over the tree.  Instead I impaled my shin on a branch. OUCH!  I could almost feel her breath on my back!  The pain was hideous but I moved my butt!

                  By then that ornery elk cow, stopped,  was stamping her huge feet, and snorting (laughing) just a few yards away.   Painfully, I quickly recovered my balance, scrambled over the tree as fast as I could, reached under, rescued poor little David, who was crying hard, and fled to safety.  I never tried THAT again! 

                     David is probably still traumatized at the age of 31 by that incident.

               My two boys spent three days having tons of SAFE fun at Yellowstone with their dad.  I nursed a sore, wounded leg, or hobbled around, or sat sitting alone in the car, at all the great sightseeing spots.   In the heat, in the car, feeling left out.    Sulking for my extreme dumbness.

                   When I wasn’t sitting I the car, I was cooking … or TRYING TO COOK over a fire. 
This is a smarmy Magpie, a Western bird.
                     You see, Yellowstone is infested with these highly intelligent, very crafty birds and small ground mammals. They have developed a talent for snatching every single morsel of hot/cold food right off the paper plates of anybody!  

                    One bold Magpie even landed on the side of my hot iron skillet and grabbed a sizzling sausage link right out of it!  Then he flew away, which brought a new horde down on us.  Dang those stinking Pies!

Large voracious crows also stole our food!
                  My kids laughed  even though those ornery thieves were eating THEIR food right in front of them.  Magpies flew down to the picnic table, cockily walked among the plates and helped themselves!     They’d launch into the air with their booty if you tried to smack them.

                 The boys giggled.  They were loving it.   Hubby was useless.  I think he was cheering secretly until he realized he was going to be getting “nada”  to eat.



Hubby number three. He's 16 years younger than me. Can you tell?


                   Well, it wasn’t so funny when ALL our sausages, pancakes, eggs … our whatever,  were either snatched, walked-in or pooped-on.   THEN my kids/hubby were famished and cranky.  This kind of relentless attack continued every time I tried to feed my family there. 

                  Once we ate in the car to just get a bite!  If they weren’t getting into the cooked food, practically taking it right off your fork, then they were in your tent, getting into it!   Yeah, critters.  I wasn't loving them right about then.


Chipmunks ran across our table, snatching food! I think one crapped in my plate!
                   Chipmunks joined the picnic predators at one camp spot.  They unabashedly ran right up into the plates the minute you set one down on a table, (or your lap!).  Darned little pesks!  Nothing tastes good after chipmunk feet have trod all over it.  You never know where those buggers have walked!  Garbage cans, Porto potties, you know.   Uck!! 


Ground squirrels or prairie dogs also stole our food!
                      One morning I woke up and there were two very lardy-butt ground squirrels sitting at the opening of my tent eating, graham crackers they’d pulled out of my back pack!   They didn't move until I threw a shoe at them!

                     It was even dangerous to have open food or coolers where critters could get to them.  The signs posted at the campground, other areas, and rangers warned us "ingenues'" to lock those things in our cars, or hang them up on ropes above bear reach. 

                                  WAIT!   Now I had to worry about BEARS!??



                                       Well, the first night ONE struck. 

                     I was in my tent with little David, about asleep but had to PEE really bad.  Hubby and Brad slept in another tent, next to us.  Why did I drink all that pop?

                  Do you know that feeling?  I debated whether or not I could hold it in or if I had to make a wild dash to the bathrooms nearby. 

                As I was having an argument between my bladder, my fear and my conscience, I heard a strange, terrifying noise ….

                              Huffing…. Snorting… RIGHT OUTSIDE MY TENT!


                    There was A BEAR out there. I could hear it.  I KNEW IT.  



David, my youngest son at about that time.
                       I instantly became STONE - frozen in absolute terror!

                   My breath stopped as I waited to be attacked.  All I could think of was, “I am going to die and it’s going to eat my baby!”  I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared as I was then.   My heart was where my stomach was supposed to be.
 
                 Nothing happened.  The sound faded away over the next few minutes.  Panicked, I peeked out of the tent zipper opening.  It was blacker than a mother-in-law’s bad temper out there.  There was nothing I could see, hear or smell.  Was it gone?

                                    Finally, the bladder WON. 

                    I escaped as quietly and as fast as I could, and flew to the potty area and back.    All the time, I was thinking of the police report of me being eaten on the way, or poor little David being eaten.   I was a BAD MOTHER.


                  My imagination gave me the worst heartburn ever.  I think I peed so fast it vaporized out of my poor bladder!   I made it back to the tent in record speed, totally panicked that I'd find my "baby" eaten!    Once in the tent, I was hyperventilating, and couldn’t sleep.  I must have checked my baby, David,  a million times. My mind was racing:

                     I WAS SURELY A “BAD MOTHER.  Who leaves a sleeping baby to go pee, when there’s a BEAR in the area?  My husband and older son, Brad, age 5, were sound asleep in the tent next to us.    Why didn’t I think to scream and alarm everybody?" 

                   And then I remembered, "hubby has a handgun!“  

                    All these thoughts raged through my brain.  Somewhere in the night, I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.  The next morning I awoke with a start, trembling, and stuck my fuzzy head slowly outside the tent. 

                     But I was seized with utter terror when I saw what was on the ground right by my tent door:  BEAR TRACKS!

                       Then I heard the shouts.  Screams. 
                  I looked up in time to see a crowd gathering around the parking lot.  There were a couple cars, both jeeps, with their doors ripped open, tops peeled back and contents strewn everywhere!  

                Yeah, the bear had a bigger target than me and my baby.  He had gone right for the steaks, donuts, butter, hot dogs, and goodies in those vehicles, in coolers, and on the car seats.  
                                 A hungry park bear is a walking CAN opener.

                   Relieved, I woke completely up, and thanked God that it wasn’t ME strewn all over the place, nor David, nor my hubby and son Brad.  

                 We left that park immediately and moved on to another.  I think I slept with one eye open and an empty bladder the next three days. 

                That’s why I own a little Porto potty today.  

                If I have to camp in a tent, I want MY bathroom inside.  Today, I live even better.  In a big motor home where I can take EVERYTHING I value with me.  

               We still camp.  Rather we "full time RV."  I love seeing wildlife now.  From within MY home. 

                  If I ever SEE another bear, I am RUNNING OVER HIS A_ _ WITH MY 20,000 POUND MOTOR HOME!!
You would think at 37 I'd know what I was doing in life.


                       It was a week later we saw on the TV  news that two women in a tent had been killed and partially eaten by A BEAR at the SAME campground at which I encountered that roaming, huffing monster.

                  Yep, it did get worse!  I felt so bad for those women.  Nobody deserves to die like that.      It could have been us.  IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME!!

                   I felt blessed it wasn’t, little David, Brad or my hubby. 

                   I sure have some powerful memories of that Yellowstone Park trip, and one very nasty special scar to remember those times by  … on my SHIN!

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