- THOSE CROWS ARE NO JOKE
Ok, so they’re actually ravens, but still, WHAT ARE THEY BEING FED?!
I was shocked and amazed when I first saw them because they are perhaps twice the size of your regular city black bird. Their beak is massive but because of their larger size you can see their features easily. For some reason, at least to me, they just come off as more intelligent and noble looking than their city counterparts. Which goes to show you-even the things you write of as mundane can become something that impresses you.
- STUPIDITY KNOWS NO BOUNDS
Upon your arrival you will be provided with (strongly) suggested distances you keep from each species of animal that lives within the park. Even though they may appear docile when you pass them in your vehicle these creatures are WILD ANIMALS. They are not domesticated! This means they hunt for their food, they compete for food and dominance, they go where they want to go, and they protect their own. One wrong move could put you and the people around you in a world of hurt. Despite constant warnings I personally saw a family with their kids yelling not too far from a bison calf. I also heard a story from a woman who witnessed a father get his child out of the car and sit the toddler down practically next to a bison for a picture. People, no selfie on earth is worth a bison’s horn up your ass. These rules are in place to keep you safe and to make sure you get home when the vacations over. Also on that note, parents, your kids may be 1. Too young to read or 2. Too young/immature to realize what is correct behavior around a wild animal (goodness knows petting zoo behavior isn’t the best idea). This makes their safety and actions YOUR responsibility. STEP UP.
- YOU CAN LIVE WITHOUT DATA
It is very rare in the park to receive a good signal and at the trailer park, I called home for a week, there was zip. Unless you are staying at a lodge or similar establishment chances are likely you will be going without data or wifi (don’t worry there’s a phone booth for emergency calls). For me it started with a slight initial panic, “Oh no, I can’t update my blog from here” or “I can’t text my neighbor to ask about how my rabbits are!” or the more extreme thought “WHAT IF I GET ATTACKED BY A BEAR?!” Once I got over these thoughts, unplugging and purely enjoying what was happening was great. I didn’t have to worry about texting anyone back, the sound of the wind blowing through the tall grass in the mountains wasn’t interrupted by a ring, and when the day of adventure was done, I showered, laid in bed with a nice book and read till I drifted to sleep. As a result I slept wonderfully (there is proof that looking at the backlight from any device can disturb your sleep patterns and sleep quality) woke up early on my own, had a hot cup of chai tea and watched the morning start. After doing it for a week I was actually kind of sad to leave it. While I was excited to share my pictures with you and with friends there’s a simple harmony that comes from not worrying about phone calls, texts, and even facebook.
- YOU ARE THE GUEST
Throughout the park you will see signs that say “Bear Aware.” Upon arrival you will be told that ANY food should NEVER be left alone, fed, or just thrown out into the field or an open receptacle. This is because if any of the wildlife gets used to eating human food or being given the food they will seek out human populated areas. Which is kind of whatever if it’s a chipmunk but I don’t think a bear will receive quite as warm a welcome. When disposing of your food there are also sealed trash receptacles in the park to deter the bears from coming into human populated areas and digging through the trash. Also, follow speed limit signs while driving thru the park. These are not just posted for your safety but also the animals’! This year we have already seen 3 bears hit by vehicles. With one of the three being a cub. (25 bears were hit by cars last year) 100 animals on average die each year from being struck by a vehicle (Source). We are in their homes. You shouldn’t expect them to accommodate you, you need to accommodate them.
- NATURE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE AWE-INSPIRING THAN ANY STRUCTURE MAN CAN BUILD
No matter how tall our buildings get, how many lights it has, nothing can out do the simple but magnificent beauty of nature. I think even with traveling, living in a city often makes me forget that the world is naturally beautiful. We get so caught up in our cement highways, AC blowing vehicles, and cell phones that we often forget the world is pretty awesome on its own without our help. Think about it. Some of the biggest and most sought out marvels of the world are natural: The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, the glaciers of Alaska, Mount Everest, the Victoria falls, aurora borealis (the northern lights), and the list goes on. The world doesn’t need our help to be amazing – it already is. BUT it does need or help in managing our own waste and consumption. Visiting a conservation park like this or even getting out of the city and unplugging for a while is a great reminder of why we recycle, try to reduce our consumption, and reuse as much as possible.
Nature has a lot of beauty to offer us if you’re willing to take the time to be a witness. I don’t think any amount of face booking, angry birds, or texting would be worth missing all the beauty I saw this past week. Truly awe-inspiring.