Anyone who has read this blog more than a few times knows I normally write about birds and bugs and whatever catches my eye in nature. Sometimes I write about art. Today I can’t resist commenting on a people encounter because it ties in so well with the last three posts about the sandhill cranes at Floating Island Lake.
First of all let me say we mostly meet wonderful people in Yellowstone -- people from all walks of life and mostly people who wouldn’t be there if they weren’t interested in our natural world at least to some degree. We find ourselves standing next to doctors, lawyers, biologists, waitresses ... the butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker. Such a variety.
|My favorite Yellowstone person, my husband, Dale.|
Often, when I have a question, I can soon find a person with the answer: how do you tell a male from a female sandhill crane? At what age does a bison cow first give birth? What is that bright yellow fly I just found on fresh bison patties. Sometimes we are the people with the answers.
Many people cruise through the park in record time. I remember standing next to one of our Yellowstone friends when a happy tourist pulled up to see what we were watching. He’d seen the whole park in three days and was about to head home -- he’d seen it all. Jason turned to him and drawled, “Well, you see, I come from Virginia where the soils are poor and we get hookworm. We’re a little slow. I’ve been coming to this same square ten miles of park for 25 years and I still haven’t seen it all”
At the time I thought, “Wow! 25 years!” Dale and I have now have our 25 years in and more. The only year we skipped was the year of the fires when we choose to stay away from all the smoke.
Jason and the happy tourist were both good people, just different from each other; definitely not tourons.
'Touron' is the name given by ‘regulars’ (us) to the idiots (tourist + moron = touron). Unfortunately there are a few of those. I probably got my maddest ever at a touron. A cow elk was wading a swift, but shallow section of the Gibbon River. She’s picked that portion of the river to cross because it was one of the few relatively shallow areas. Above and below the river was narrower, faster, and deeper. Her calf was already having problems with the current. Everyone but one touron stayed put and watched. The touron had a little camera and wanted a picture so he trotted down to meet the cow! She shifted direction, the calf stumbled and rolled in the current. While the cow and calf stumbled downstream the touron kept following them along the riverbank, keeping the two in the river. I tried just yelling at the man first, but he wouldn’t listen to ME.
Soon I was surprised at what started coming out of my mouth -- a few words I won’t mention. I finally clinched it by saying I knew which car was his and I was getting a ranger. That finally worked. I’ll never know if the calf made it across. By then the cow and calf where stumbling around a bend in the river and I wasn’t about to follow.
My most recent touron encounter took place this spring at Floating Island Lake. Generally people in Yellowstone are surprisingly friendly. Strangers talk to strangers all the time. I come back to Oregon and strike up a conversation in line at the grocery store and get odd looks, but in Yellowstone everyone does it. So after the sandhill crane brawl (described in my recent post, Broken Toe: Part II), I thought the three people standing near me might be interested in a little of Broken Toe’s history. They had a scope on the cranes and had watched the battle. Little did I know they were tourons.
I walked the few steps to their tripod and started out saying I’d never seen cranes battle like that. The man glared at me, “Battle! That wasn’t a fight. That was sex!
I tried again, but he interrupted and sputtered, “It's Sex! That's male dominance!” and with that, he picked up his tripod and moved to the other side of his car! I guess he thinks I’m a white-haired touron.