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* Fun with wildlife ...
A visitor to Glacier National Park in Montana lost his car keys while attempting to lure a ground squirrel by dangling the keys out in front of the critter. The squirrel grabbed the keys and ran down a hole with them.
The keys were never retrieved, a ranger cited the man for harassment of wildlife, and a locksmith was called to make new car keys.
* Putting our loved ones at risk for a photo ...
In May of 1994, Tony Moore, 43, of Marietta, Georgia, was gored and seriously injured by a large male bison in Yellowstone, next to the Lake Hotel. Moore and a friend had approached to within 15 feet of the bison to have their pictures taken. While they were standing with their backs to the animal, it charged. Moore's companion escaped, but Moore received a severe puncture wound in his right thigh and was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Jackson for treatment.
* Watching for falling rocks ...
A visitor setting up camp at Lake Eleanor in Yosemite National Park hit herself on the head with a rock while trying to string up her food to protect it from bears.
* Requesting assistance ...
In 1994, a woman visiting from the Bay Area embarked on a solo hike to the summit of El Capitan in Yosemite. When she became lost and saw a storm brewing, she called 911 from her cellular phone and asked to be rescued. A helicopter found her barely off the trail and one-fourth to half a mile from the top of El Cap.
When the helicopter lifted off and the woman saw how close she was to her summit goal, she asked the crew to set her down on top. When the crew declined, she threatened to sue them for kidnapping.
* Caring for the creatures ...
A woman, appearing rather distraught, came into the visitor center at Redwood National Park in California to report that she had seen several Irish setters lying along the edge of the highway and she feared they were dead or injured. Rangers explained to her that these were pieces of redwood bark that had fallen off logging trucks.
* Asking for directions ...
Darryl Stone, now superintendent at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, remembered working the entrance station at Yosemite when a woman drove up and asked, "Which way are the geysers?" Ranger Stone directed her to continue 1,000 miles further to Yellowstone and told her there were no geysers at Yosemite. "Yes, there are," she said, "I have a friend who saw them." Stone and the woman went round and round several times before she left, insisting that there were geysers at Yosemite. Later she wrote a letter to the chief ranger complaining that Stone had refused to provide her with the information she wanted.
* Back-seat driving, as always ...
When an elderly couple stopped to film some bears at Dunraven Pass in Yellowstone, a young bear crawled into their car searching for food. Unable to make the bear leave, the exasperated (but well-dressed) couple drove about 17 miles to the ranger station at Canyon Village with the bear in the back seat. When the husband got out to report the incident, the bear hopped over into the front seat so that investigating rangers found the woman in the passenger seat and the bear behind the wheel.
* All tuckered out from our day hikes ...
In 1993 a woman called 911 from the top of Half Dome using her cellular phone. According to dispatch, she reported: "Well, I'm at the top and I'm really tired."
The answering ranger asked if she felt sick.
"No," she said, "I'm just really tired and I want my friends to drive to the base and pick me up."
The dispatcher explained that she would have to hike down the trail she had ascended. The visitor replied, "But you don't understand, I'm really tired."
What happened next? "It turned out we got really lucky," the ranger said, "her phone battery died."
* Taking mementos home with us ...
Each year visitors to Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona pocket an estimated 12 tons of petrified wood to take home (despite numerous warnings not to take wood and the fact that this criminal violation carries a minimum fine of $275). Some years back, several female foreign visitors, clad only in bikinis, were observed hiding wood in their garments.
Another time, rangers received a report that a man had put a large piece of wood in his car. Upon searching his vehicle, they found a 40-pound piece of petrified wood in his trunk. According to rangers, this visitor said he didn't know how it got there. "My son must have put it in there," the man said.
His son was four years old.
* Ever alert to terrorism ...
A group of European visitors came into the Wawona ranger station in Yosemite National Park and said, "Our car is parked at the trail head and it's been blown up by terrorists." Though rangers expressed some doubt, the visitors insisted that a bomb had exploded in their car and that they could see powder residue from the explosives. Investigating rangers indeed found that a door had been torn off and a powder-like substance -- pancake flour -- was strewn about the car.
"They were quite embarrassed when we showed them the bear prints," the ranger said.
* Ignoring the sage advice of rangers ...
A camper at Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park decided to take a dip in the lake with her dog despite signs saying "No swimming -- Danger -- Alligators." She swam to an island about 75 yards from the shore, then saw some alligators and refused to swim back.
"Didn't you see the signs?" asked the ranger who retrieved her in a canoe.
"Sure," she said, "but I didn't think they applied to me."
These are supposedly actual questions asked by tourists at various U.S. national parks ...
Zion National Park:
What is your best parking area?
Mount Rainier National Park:
Where's the road to the summit?
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore:
Don't you think the polluted sky makes a much prettier sunset?
Grand Canyon National Park:
Was this man-made?
Do you light it up at night?
I bought tickets for the elevator to the bottom -- where is it?
Is the mule train air-conditioned?
So where are the faces of the presidents?
Why did the Indians only build ruins?
Everglades National Park:
Are the alligators real?
Are the baby alligators for sale?
Where are all the rides?
What time does the two o'clock bus leave?
Mesa Verde National Park:
Did people build this, or did Indians?
Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?
Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
What did they worship in the kivas -- their own made-up religion?
Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?
Carlsbad Caverns National Park:
How much of the cave is underground?
So what's in the unexplored part of the cave?
Does it ever rain in here?
How many ping-pong balls would it take to fill this up?
So what is this -- just a hole in the ground?
Yosemite National Park:
Where are the cages for the animals?
What time of year do you turn on Yosemite Falls?
What happened to the other half of Half Dome?
Can I get my picture taken with the carving of President Clinton?
Denali National Park:
What time do you feed the bears?
What time do they let the animals out in the park?
What's so wonderful about Wonder Lake?
Can you show me where yeti lives?
How often do you mow the tundra?
How much does Mount McKinley weigh?
Yellowstone National Park:
Does Old Faithful erupt at night?
How do you turn it on?
When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?
We had no trouble finding the park entrances, but where are the exits?
During a tour of Yellowstone National Park, the tour guide asked if there were any questions. A woman in a pink plastic miniskirt and high heels stood up and asked where the park rangers put the cages for the animals to sleep in at night. Later, she asked, "How do you call the animals? With a whistle or do the park rangers just turn off the lights so the animals know to come in?"
Here are a couple of genuine requests and comments which Americans have made to people at the Tourist Information Office here in Edinburgh, Scotland:
`Do you have any photographs of the castle under construction?' (The castle dates back in parts to the 10th century AD)
`Can we see the original blueprints of the castle?'
`Wouldn't it have been better if they'd built the castle nearer the stores?'
"Where Can I Go Bear Hunting in Philadlphia?" Visitor information bueraus across the country get some of the strangest quesitons from confused travelers. By Marty Olmstead (The Saturday Evening Post, Jan/Feb 97 p26-17)
How long does it take to fly from San Francisco to Berkley?
Does your map have streets on it?
Where can I get breast implants in San Fransisco?
-- San Francisco
Iím trying to build a flying saucer - where can I go for help?
-- San Jose, CA
Where can I buy a picture of the Liberty Bell? Int he one I have, the bell has a crack in it.
Iím moving to San Francisco - whatís it like?
Where can I go bear huntin in Philadelphia?
What hotel in Philadelphia overlooks the ocean?
How much does it cost to get in the the free festival at Pennís Landing?
If I visit the Italian market, will I see Rocky Balboa working out?
Will the fireworks be at night or during the day?
Whatís the official language of Alaska
-- Fairbanks, Alaska
Do you have a map of the Iditarod trail? Weíd like to go for a walk now.
-- Anchorage Alaska
If it rains, will the hot-air balloon race be held inside Freedom Hall?
Where is a good place to propose to my wife?
What is a stud?
-- Louisveille, Kentucky
What are all those dwarf trees all over the hills?
-- Sonoma Valley wine country
Where can I rent a camel to visit the Grand Cnayon?
Iím on a street with a lake - how do I get downtown?
-- Los Angeles
IF you go to a restaurant in Idaho and you dontí want any kind of potato with your meal, will they ask you to leave?
-- Boise, Idaho
When is your next jazz funeral?
How naked can you get at Mardi Gras?
Can you help me plan a safari?
-- New Orleans
How many cups of water could it take to fill the Grand Canyon?
When will they complete the bridge across the Grand Canyon?
Why isnít the Grand Canyon lit at night?
Do you have fires in the fireplaces in Arizona?
Can you fix my parking ticket?
Can you help me open an Indian trading post in North Carolina?
Is it going to snow in November?
Where is the Elvis Presley theme park?
Have we made peace with the Indians?
-- Scottsdale, Arizona
Whatís that white stuff on the mountains - is it salt?
Where can I go to hear the Utah Jazz?
In New York City thereís a dance alled the ballet - do you have anything like that in Utah?
Where can we tgo to see the Mormons?
-- Salt Lake City
What time of year do the deer turn into elk?
Can you send me an autographed picture of your governor, john Denver?
Can you walk to the ski slopes?
What season is it there right now?
Iíve had quadruple bypass surgery - can I ride the bobsled?
Where are Scarlett and Rhett burried, and are thy buried together?
-- Cobb County, Georgia
Where can we find Amish hookers? We want to buy a quilt?
-- Pennsylvania Dutch country
Will India be sending a team to the Olympics?
Could you tell me some hotels near Yellowstone?
Iíd like to know about the opportunities for dog sledding in Des Moines.
Can you tell me when to plant my broccoli?
Will it snow on Dec. 7?
-- Des Moines, Iowa
Why does the mosquito in Florida bite only at dusk when it bites everywhere else at 4:00 p.m.?
Where can I find an Orlando hotel with an ocean view?
Weíre allergic to carpteing - which hotels donít have carpeting?
Can you find my sone? Heís at a convention?
If Iím pregnant and donít go on the Disney World rides, do I get a discount?
Please send me four Disney World tickets - Iíll send you the money later.
-- Orlando, Florida
Which beach is closest to the water?
-- Florida Space Coast
Iím a licensed scuba diver - can I dive in the shark tank at the Balitmore Aquarium during the feeding?
Which hotels have rooms with swimming pools in them?
How do you make peppermint sticks?
What is the nutritional value of crabs?
Where is the Soul Train locomotive stop?
Is there ferry service from Baltimore to Houston, Texas?
Where is Baltimoreís uninhibited island?
What time will it start raining today?
Does soemone drive the water taxi, or does it go by iteself?
Where can I go rat fishing in Baltimore?
ACTUAL comments received in 1996 from the Bridger Wilderness (Bridger-Teton National Forest) registration sheets and comment cards:
- Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands.
- Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce world-wide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness.
- Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals.
- All the mile markers are missing this year.
- Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse.
- Trail needs to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
- Too many bugs and leaches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.
- Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow during the winter.
- Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.
- The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.
- A small deer came into my camp and stole my jar of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call ___ ___ ____.
- Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights.
- Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.
- Need more signs to keep area pristine.
- A McDonalds would be nice at the trailhead.
- The places where trails do not exist are not well marked.
- I brought lots of sandwhich makings, but forgot bread. If you have extra bread, leave it in the yellow tent at V Lake.
- Too many rocks in the mountains.