Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What are ya? Yellow?

by Robison Wells

You probably didn't notice, but I didn't post last week. I didn't even write a little post announcing that I wasn't going to post. The reason: because I'm a man of mystery. Also, if I posted every week then you'd come to expect it, and then rely on it, and then, in the winter when I'm not here, you'd starve like a tourist-fed squirrel.

The other reason that I didn't post last week is because I'd just returned home from a family reunion at Yellowstone National Park, and I smelled like smoke and unshowered body odor. I assumed that you wouldn't want anything to do with me.

Yellowstone is one of my favorite places on earth. It's also probably the one place I fear more than any other. In this sense, it's not unlike the Sonic Green Chile Cheeseburger: I love it more than life itself, but it always makes me want to puke when I'm done.

My fear of Yellowstone is derived from my childhood. In an attempt to keep me alive, my parents very graphically described how quickly and unpleasantly I would die if I ever stepped off the boardwalk. "You see that hole?" they'd say, pointing to a small sinkhole near a geyser. "That's where some kid stepped off the trail AND BROKE THROUGH THE CRUST AND DIED!" Then they'd point to sign that look like the following, and I'd discover that Yellowstone safety was not another fairy tale of goblins who kidnap disobedient children. This was real.

I must admit that I've done my utmost to carry on this tradition with my children. My two-year-old, Sammy, who'd try to lick a buffalo's horn if we let go of him, is strapped tightly into his stroller. My five-year-old, Holly, holds onto my hand--well, I hold onto her hand, and squeeze it like a vice.

I remember well driving through the national park as a kid and having my mom read tidbits of history to us: how the early explorers found places where they could just set their frying pans on a rock, and the ground itself would cook their breakfast. Or when we stopped at the Norris Geyser basin, and the boardwalk was blocked with yellow caution tape--one of the geysers had exploded. Not shot water in the air like a regular geyser, but exploded, showering the area with great big rocks and superheated water. Yellowstone is a dang freaky place.

My wife, on the other hand, is generally more scared by the supernatural, but there's lots at Yellowstone to frighten her, too. About five years ago we stayed at the hotel in Mammoth, and the interior looks EXACTLY like the Overlook Hotel of The Shining fame. She still has nightmares.

Her fears were somewhat exacerbated when I had to leave a day early to get back to the LDSBA convention. She tells me that she spent that night, lying awake, her knuckles white as she gripped the flashlight (which she never turned off) and she kept the broom next to her sleeping bag, ready to ruthlessly swat hungry bears and demons.

Fortunately, no one died. No one even got injured that I can remember. And then, driving home late at night all by myself, I was within fifteen miles of home when a deer ran out in front of my car and I slammed on the brakes--stopping only three feet from him. What a waste, I thought. At least at Yellowstone I could have died in some interesting way, in an interesting place. When I go, I want death by explosion.


At 8/21/2007 5:23 PM, Blogger Josi said...

I've heard that Yellowstone is just a big crater volcano and it's expected that one day it will just explode and most of the northwestern US will be covered in lava--Mostly Idaho.

This is handy to tell your wife, especially if you're camped close enough to the road that you can feel the ground move when those monster motor homes roll by.

Glad you all survived...for now.

At 8/22/2007 12:38 AM, Blogger Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Death by explosion, huh. Wow, guess Yellowstone will be where you meet your demise eventually.

I have admit Robison, I've never seen Yellowstone quite the way you so brilliantly described. Huh.

At 8/22/2007 12:41 AM, Blogger Stephanie Humphreys said...

We took our kids to Yellowstone for the first time this summer, and it is exactly how you describe it. My husband delighted in reminding us on a regular basis that we were on top of a super volcano and no one could be sure when it would blow again. Yellowstone is a freaky awesome place perfect for adventures and over-active imaginations.

At 8/22/2007 7:28 AM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Okay, now you've scared me off of Yellowstone permanently.


At 8/22/2007 11:54 AM, Blogger The Mean Aunt said...

Yellowstone freaked me out when I was a teenager. I was afraid I would trip and fall into the boiling mud. And death by boiling med sounded really painful.

And if someone else fell in how would you rescue them without killing yourself?

I prefer Death Valley.

At 8/22/2007 1:07 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Just call me a squirrel, Rob -- I do really enjoy your posts.

At 8/24/2007 9:09 AM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Another squirrel here.

And another phobic of Yellowstone. Went there with three tiny kids once and had the death grip on each one. I'm trying to smile in the pictures.

Thanks for the laugh. Ya threw me off my blog reading for days, though. Sheesh.

At 8/24/2007 12:31 PM, Blogger Janette Rallison said...

Love the Yellowstone signs. They make it look like such a fun place.

At 8/24/2007 3:50 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

We go to Yellowstone about every other year, in June. Why? I don't know. Because it's always cold in Jackson Hole and snows in Yellowstone that time of year. A friend of mine asked if we camp there. What? No way. We stay in hotel rooms. Who wants to camp when you can have a bed and shower? A warning that Rob missed. Drive the speed limit.

At 8/27/2007 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes me laugh about Yellowstone is all of the signs that say, "Do not approach buffalo. Vistors have been gored!" And yet, anytime there is a traffic jam because buffalo are crossing the street, there is a crowd of people getting extremely close to the buffalo. One tourist put their child on the ground to take a picture and the child kept inching closer and closer. I kept thinking that kid is going to die, but luckily the mom grabbed the kid before the big bull came charging up.


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