Remember that mythical place, Vacationland? Sure, you do. Lock up the house, leave instructions for friends to care for the pets and garden, and set off for the airport or a road trip to shed the ever-tightening skin that forms with the unavoidable accumulation of daily habits. I’m the first to admit my daily habits are extremely comfortable. All the coffee I want and berries and Greek yogurt every morning. But no matter how luxurious your circumstances, from time to time we can all profit from the happily disorienting effects of a change of scene to blow wide open again the creaky doors of perception and get them banging on their hinges. And that’s the one thing that lots of us have been unable to do these past months. And if all we’re pining for is a vacation, we’re the lucky ones.
Like most of our experiences of late, I can only offer a virtual change of scene, vicarious participation in Mitch’s recent vacation to Glacier National Park and a side trip to Yellowstone, both illustrious destinations in the Vacationland roster. His day job brings him in constant (masked) contact with the public, so he’s been self-testing weekly at a site set up at Dodger Stadium here in Los Angeles. He and a friend flew to Bozeman, Montana, then rented a car to reach their glamping digs in Glacier National Park and eventually a brief sojourn in Yellowstone. Mitch has already tested negative on his return. So weird to include all these details, but unfortunately that’s where we are.
Vacationland. One couple kicking the tires of an old concept in these very new times. And just to ease the pangs of envy somewhat, let it be known that like all forays into Vacationland there were drawbacks to report: slightly too cold in the tent at night unless you woke up at 3 a.m. to tend the fire, temporary closure of road travel deeper into GNP due to an early snowstorm, a very odd and uneasy visit to a private hot spring, and the access to the wonders of Yellowstone felt to be too programmatic and Disneyfied. But it wouldn’t be a trip to Vacationland without a few grumbles, would it? That’s just how the mythology works.
On with the slideshow…
Mitch writes: “The herd had been edging toward the road over the last few minutes, but now one of the bulls straddled the double-yellow with purpose and indicated exactly what was going to happen. The level of clear communication was breathtaking. ‘Get all these pickup trucks out of here, I’m bringing the family across the highway.’
“And the bison got in single-file formation to bring everyone across the highway. Which I’d read about but never seen — somewhere in the 8th grade curriculum the teacher would conjure an image of bison walking through a storm in single-file with the lead animal bearing the brunt of winds and frost and the rest of the herd shielded one behind the other until the lead bison dies of exposure, falls out of the way, and the number two bison takes his place in front. No other animals are known to do this, the teacher explained, further burnishing the myth of the plains buffalo. And here they were, really doing it.”
“The real magic was watching them march straight to the river — a strategic mistake! I thought as I assumed the river would be an issue for them, and that they would end up with their backs to the water and a phalanx of humans pinning them against the riverbanks. No hesitation, no slowing down. They kept up speed into the water and forded the river as a team. Never seen anything like it.”
“On the opposite side, the biggest bull shook the water off his coat like a dog after a bath and then stood and regarded me in a challenge and a guarantee that I would stay on my side.”
It helps to remember that Vacationland is out there, waiting for us when we’re ready!
Have a great week.