Monday, August 8, 2016

Looking Forward to Your Vacation? Pt. 2: PLEASE TAKE ALONG YOUR BRAIN By Andrea Downing


What gets into people when they go on vacation?  Are we so relaxed that we don’t think straight?  There seems to be a plethora of incredibly stupid acts by people traveling, a number of which are occurring within our national parks.  Forget the idiotic speeding on our nation’s highways or the things college kids get up to when they get their school break.  I’m talking about otherwise normal and sane adults who just leave their brains at home.
I’m lucky enough to get to Yellowstone once a year, if not more, and it never ceases to amaze me how up close and personal one can get to the wildlife there—sometimes a bit too up close.  Most of us have now heard of the man and his son who put a baby bison in the back of their car to take to the rangers, thinking he looked cold.  Really?  I don’t know what to even say about the thought process  behind that one, although I learned they were from South Africa and that seems to be the norm over there.  Huh?
Cristal nervously sits in car as buffalo passes by

My daughter and I were on the road when a herd of bison came meandering down; the size of their heads alone is enough to put the fear of God into you.  But apparently not to some—take the woman who decided to snap a selfie with a bison, then was surprised when he knocked her over.  Actually, she was lucky, considering she expected a 2000 lb. animal to just stand there and behave.
Have a good look at the hot springs and geysers in the park and think about what it might be like to fall in.  Despite numerous signs warning visitors not to leave the walkways, there has already been a death in Yellowstone this year due to people leaving the boardwalks and going on to the delicate travertine terraces surrounding them.  Another visitor decided to stroll off to get a cup of medicinal sulphur water; that cup of water cost him a $1000 fine.  Luckily for him, he didn’t pay with his life.
Yellowstone:  would you leave the boardwalk?
The old adage of leave only footprints, take only photographs seems to be long forgotten in some circles.  On a list I found of fourteen incredibly stupid things tourists have done, a good number of them were desecrating monuments or memorials.  Two American sisters were deported from Cambodia after taking nude selfies in front of the sacred temples at Angkor Wat.  In my neck of the woods, people have scaled the Brooklyn Bridge to get a good shot of the New York skyline, and spilled coffee on the carved names at the Ground Zero Memorial. The list goes on.
Some of these idiocies have to do with people’s expectations and lack of knowledge, especially when it comes to traveling abroad.  I found several lists of things American tourists have said about their vacations, and it made me wonder, do we know nothing about geography, history, and other cultures?  Here’s a small sample:  “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish”; We went to a Mexican restaurant in Rome and the waiter was Italian. You assured us Italy was the best place for an authentic food experience”; "Why did the queen build Windsor Castle so close to Heathrow Airport?"; "How do I know which plane to get on? I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these darn planes have numbers on them"; “There was no sign telling you that you shouldn’t get on the hot air balloon ride if you’re afraid of heights”; “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.” 
So I leave you with one last word:  THINK!

And if you’d like a wee bit of mental stimulation, head on over to my website http://andreadowning.com  or select some summer reading via
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20 comments:

Leah St. James said...

Oh my. I don't know whether to laugh or hang my head in shame on behalf of humanity and/or Americans! I'll do both! I think we (humans) have an innate sense of immortality that often isn't corrected until we face mortality (i.e., our own stupidity). If you've never been in the ocean, for example, you might not realize the power of those waves. You might not comprehend the capriciousness with which they vary in height and strength.

When I was a kid we went to the beach every day we could. One day when I was about 10, my mom (a great ocean swimmer) "went for a dip" as she would say, but the surf was rough so she told me to stay put on the beach. As I watched her jump the waves with ease, I thought, "That looks fun!" and in I trudged. The waves WERE pretty strong and it took quite an effort to go all the way out to where Mom was (about to my neck), but I kept going, certain I would be fine. I don't think I'll ever forget my mother's face as I called her name just at the moment a towering wave was cresting ahead of us. She grabbed me, yelled, "Hold your breath," and dunked me under the behemoth as it crashed overhead. When we came up, she scolded me and sent me back to the beach. That was my first (remembered) lesson in "Don't mess with Mother Nature." I love watching Mother Nature's beauty, but I have a very healthy respect for her power! Great post, Andi. Thanks for sharing.

Margo Hoornstra said...

That's exactly what people don't do, I suppose, is think. Yesterday we touched on how truth can at times be stranger than fiction. No one seems to remember we're the ones who intrude on Nature at Yellowstone and the like. Not the other way around. Wonder what some of those animals 'think' when they see us.

Andrea Downing said...

Leah, I take your point but then again, there are SIGNS all over Yellowstone saying not to leave the boardwalk and they give reasons ranging from falling in to boiling water to ruining the delicate flora and fauna that are able to exist. To me, it's really man's arrogance, his idea that he knows best and /or can get away with it. And why be so incredibly disrespectful as to visit a holy shrine and then take nude selfies, for heaven's sake?
Margo, good point about us intruding on nature and not the other way around. Then again, that's what we've done by just living in these United States I guess. (Thinking that the southwest would never have been developed had it not been for the invention of air conditioning...) We're all very upset about the wild fires, but would we be so upset if folks weren't living nearby? But I am digressing...

Jannine Gallant said...

People are idiots. Period. Or maybe I should say tourists out of their element are arrogant (perfect word BTW) idiots. They lack respect for the environment and then are shocked when the environment bites them in the butt. Living in the woods, I don't fear Mother Nature. I fear some moron with a cigarette. Man causes the majority of the fires, not lightening. I live in a tourist mecca. I get to witness brainless vacationers on a daily basis. The moron at the boat ramp who hauls his 100 grand boat up to use once a year on a busy weekend, doesn't have a clue how to back it, and clogs up the ramp for everyone else then yells at us to shut up because it's his boat, and he'll do what he wants. I get mad just thinking about it! Great post, even if it did raise my blood pressure...

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Hi Andi, Reading through your post and the above comments, I recalled a comment one sister-in-law (nurse) often makes: "Frontal lobe issues." I used to think that only young people under the age of 25 had under-developed frontal lobes, but I think the problem may be more widespread. Or maybe it's the summer heat... Thanks for sharing!

Tena Stetler said...

Hi Andi,

We spend a lot of time in the national parks, Yellowstone, Glacier, Rocky Mountain National to name a few. Seen exactly what you are talking about every time we visit. In fact, we nearly laughed to death when a gift shop clerk waited on us shaking her head and watching her previous customers walk out the door. They had asked her what time they let the animals out in Yellowstone National Park. Granted these were visitors from Japan, but Geesh.
Yep, people leave their brain at home, is the best excuse I've heard yet. Thanks for sharing!

Rolynn Anderson said...

S**T for brains. Yup. Turns out that National Parks are being overrun by visitors...and if they act like you're describing, the parks are in trouble! I have to say this election has opened my eyes to what (not) might be in people's brains. The desire to get the best selfie in the world and post it has created havoc, as well. As I've said before, I'm not sure human brains have evolved enough to manage the complexities of a global/technological society. You are rightly concerned, Andrea.

Vonnie Davis said...

I never understood travelers' complaints. We go on vacation to experience new things, see different surroundings, taste something we don't normally eat, observe behaviors we miss out on every day. If we wanted sameness, we should stay at home. Seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting new things enriches us. Yes, I make jokes about my traveling experiences because of my shock over things like lights in restrooms on timers or dogs in restaurants, but that doesn't mean I don't love the experience of "newness." As for doing dumb things, heck I do that on a daily basis. LOL Great post, Andi.

Ashantay said...

Why is it that the people with sense and respect for others don't often travel and those that don't, do? Or is it just that idiots are more likely to make the news...

Nightingale said...

Too true and on target. Very sad. Enjoyable post.

Alison Henderson said...

You last paragraph really made me laugh. I've traveled all over the world, and have always done my best to blend in. We now live in a tourist mecca that draws people from everywhere. I run into foreign tourists in the grocery store every week. I'm amazed by how well most of them speak English and how considerate they are. The same could not be said for many American tourists, at home or abroad. The only tourists that seem to have/cause trouble here are from China, and I can only imagine how different things must be for them. (That's me, wearing my Chamber of Commerce hat. LOL)

Andrea Downing said...

Jannine, sorry to have raised the BP but I well understand it., I, too, live most of the year in a tourist mecca; we get folks out here in the summer who haven't driven a car in 10 months coming from NYC and have absolutely no clue about road etiquette. They'll actually go down the hard shoulder to overtake/pass other cars in a two lane road. Could continue but I don't want my own BP shooting up...

Joanne, I suppose the summer heat does have an affect on people but if only they'd take a moment. Surely someone who thinks for a moment would realize trying to hike the Grand Canyon in flip-flops--which I have witnessed--is not the best idea?

Tena, that story did make me laugh--I'll have to remember that one. I suppose those tourists envisaged the park was one huge zoo or something. One wonders how they coped with the rest of America.

Rolynn, I'm with you on the election issues but best not go there here. As for the selfies, I recall the scene in the film Auntie Mame when her husband, trying to get the best photo, steps backwards and off the Matterhorn. I'm waiting for that to happen with someone trying to take a selfie at one of the NPs.

Vonnie, experiencing new things is, indeed, what travel is about. I remember a trip to Greece years ago where everyone at the hotel was complaining they didn't serve English food. What????

Ashantay, I think it's the latter--well adjusted people never make the news, though heroes do actually. We all make mistakes but there's a difference between making a mistake and being a complete and utter moron.

Nightingale, yes--it is sad it's true.

Alison, I think all countries have their peculiarities but Americans seem to outdo most. In Europe, Germans are known for getting up at the crack of dawn to throw their towels on chaises by the pool to reserve them. There's always a battle, it seems, between the English and the Germans for those dang chaises.





Linda Tillis said...

Some folks don't have the sense the good Lord gave a billy goat!

Andrea Downing said...

Linda-LMHO! Thanks!

Leah St. James said...

Okay, I see your point (and Jannine's...and several others'!) about the abundance of warnings and the arrogance of those who ignore them. I've never been to Yellowstone but hope to visit some day, and I'll be sure to keep a healthy distance from the hot springs!

Sandra Dailey said...

I live in Florida. Who did not know that we have gators, snakes, panthers, etc.? If you come across a lagoon with a 'Do Not Swim' sign it may not be a good idea to let your two year old wade in the water after dark. Instead of erecting walls, posting moron signs, and killing off hundreds of animals, as they are now doing, I think they should just change the Welcome to Florida sign to include - you may be eaten. After all, it's the only sign people tend to read. My rant is over. Thank you for listening.

Diane Burton said...

I like Rolynn's first sentence. So true. How long do we have to "idiot proof" everything that might hurt us? Whatever happened to common sense? Frivolous lawsuits. Apropos to going on vacation and wanting things to be the same as back home: read Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist.

Andrea Downing said...

Leah, just this morning I received an email from Yellowstone (since I'm an NP member) warning people of the 5 places NOT to try to take a selfie. It amazes me that this has become such a problem that folks actually have to be warned not to stand on the edge of Yellowstone Canyon or right by a Geyser shooting boiling water to take a photo of themselves.I guess stupidity and arrogance is a powerful combination.

Sandra, I have to say I was amazed that Disney World didn't have alligator warning signs. I think foreign visitors are just not aware that within a park, aimed at youngsters, there might still be 'gators in the beautiful lake. Had it been The Everglades, I'd agree with you, but I do think Disney World should have had more specific warnings.

Diane, I'm with you on the frivolous lawsuits. I've never quite got over the moron who got 1 million bucks for driving with hot coffee between her legs. And I love Anne Tyler, btw.

Susabelle said...

hahahaHAHAHAH!! Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are practically in my back yard, and I have seen some really stupid stuff. STUPID. A male elk in Rut or protecting his girls will not stand idly by while you click your selfies. Expect and elk-hoof to the head for such insolence. And then there are the bears that easily can open a car door to get to that protein bar wrapper you have on the floor of your car. Then you cry fowl when the bear gets trapped in the car and then tears the interior to pieces.

I cannot believe how dumb some people are. I wish they would be better behaved!

Alicia Dean said...

Great post, SO true! Many, many times when unfortunate things happen to people, it is because of their stupidity. As for the Disney World thing, maybe there should have been more specific signs about alligators, but if you're in Florida, and there are signs saying "DO Not Swim" or "Do Not go into the water," maybe don't let your two-year-old go into the water.

Yellowstone sounds gorgeous, I'd love to go some day!