Greetings from Yellowstone National Park

I can recall when Yellowstone park rangers politely discouraged tourists from reaching out of the windows of their Pontiacs to offer a handful of Cheez Doodles to bears, instead encouraging us Junior Rangers to attend evenings when camp garbage would be poured from dump trucks onto massive mounds for a ‘contained’ feeding frenzy.

My dad would have none of that; neither the feeding frenzy, nor the arm out the window offering Smokey a slice of bologna.’“Let them have their arms torn off if they want to! But you’re not going to!” So we would sit in the car in the hot Wyoming heat, windows rolled up while all the other tourists frolicked, taking photos of bears as they sniffed around for berries in the underbrush near the roadway.

But on this day their had been some snow in the upper elevations and it was quite chilly, So we sat in the car during the bear sighting traffic jam, all the other tourists abandoning their cars to pose for their Brownie snapshots in front of the sauntering bear. As the bear meandered and neared our car, my mother reached for her Brownie camera and my father growled about how she better not attract the bear’s attention.

But something did; because the bear started sniffing our car, then to our collective horror the bear lumbered up onto the front hood of our car. And laid down - and soon fell asleep, apparently enjoying the warmth from the hood of our car, each breath the bear took fogged up the front windshield window.

And needless to say, soon a large crowd had gathered around to take photos of the terrified family in the car with the bear on the hood.

I recall my father urgently whispering concerns that the besr might be hibernating for the winter.

But our anticipated long winter was interrupted when a ranger broke through the crowd, nudging the bear I’m behind with his hand saying, “Okay! Git.”

But I’m telling this story for a purpose … because I am sure there are some weathered photo albums across America that feature a terrified family and a Pontiac in Yellowstone in the summer of 1965. You can imagine the delight you would bring to this family if you were to scan and post those snapshots.

Jamie Leo © 2013


Yellowstone National Park

America's first national park is named after the river that runs through it. Within the park's massive boundaries, visitors can find mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and some of the most concentrated geothermal activity in the world. The park has 60% of the world’s geysers, as well as hot springs and mud pots. It is also home to diverse wildlife with the largest concentration of mammals in the Lower 48 states, including grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk.

State(s): Idaho Montana, Wyoming,

Established: 1872

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. - John Muir, 'Our National Parks' (1901)”

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