Bundle up the kids, drop the dog off at the sitter, flush the goldfish, (you can always get a new one), load the car remind the hubby there will be no backseat driving and hit the highway, it’s vacation time! Off to the national parks, Americas playgrounds. But what to do after the first night and the campfire embers have burned low, the visitor centers exhibits viewed and the interpretive signs read many times over. Tomorrow should be a fun day, take a few hints from our fathers and enjoy these time honored activities in the parks that seem to have gone out of style.
Rock Rolling. Keep a sharp eye out, it won’t take long to find the perfect opportunity to send a huge boulder crashing satisfactorily into valleys, chasms or even onto trails and roads below. Leverage may be needed, carry a stout walking stick to give that added boost. Often it doesn’t take much more than a gentle push to send the right rock scuttering downhill, sending motorists and casual hikers below into a real tizzy. If there aren’t enough sizable boulders perched over the trail there’s almost always a throwing rock nearby, aim close to hikers, they usually jump back with a ‘Where the heck did that come from.’ look.
Tourist Teasing. It’s inevitable, you’ll come across someone on the trail and they’ll ask, “How much farther is it?”. What a perfect chance for giggles. Tell them it isn’t far, or it’s a real long trek, or to make a left or is it a right at the creek. Warn them about rattlesnakes, or grizzlies or peccaries or the naked gathering of aged hippies holding a drum circle ahead. Whet their appetite for a long downhill stretch or bit of a slog through the mud. Tell them to be sure to take their own clothes off before they meet with the dancing hipsters, who are willing to accept the unclothed but go all Manson on the attired. There are a thousand variations on the theme, pick one suitable and stand back and watch the fun.
Road Sign Shooting. This had fallen out of favor but with doomsday now imminent it pays to stay in practice by plinking away at Rudolph as you fly by at 70mph. Purists only consider a trophy bagged when the ammo is dispensed from a moving vehicle. All signs are fair game but the most highly prized trophies are those with a depiction of a leaping, scurrying animal be it ungulate, ursine, porcine, bovine, bipedal, reptilian or avian in nature. Placement is important with the most points generally awarded to shots that make the animal appear to have a bulbous snoot or prolific scat.
Graffito. The ancients left their mark, why shouldn’t modern man. At newspaper rock in the Canyonlands of Utah the Anasazi peppered a blackened rock surface with depictions of sheep and deer and lizards and weird symbols that have archaeologists scratching heads even today as to their meaning. While these petroglyphs are thousands of years old, as recently as 1902 a cowboy named Gonzales and in 1954 his son or grandson left his mark on this same rockface. Yet today the little traces of our passing are disappearing. What will future generations think of us today when they look for our generations and find that we left nothing in our wakes, that we were uninspired, couldn’t spell to write our own names. Let us again take up knives and scratch our initials in hearts on trees. Get a can of spray paint and make a stencil and smiley face the world with pride. Chisel your sobriquet into a hundred stony surfaces before the only place it can be found is on the granite of your grave.
Public Art. Why should Christo have all the fun. What more stupendous setting could their possible be than the natural world and our national parks breathtaking vistas. We know of two climbers, part of the kitchen crew we recently met at the Creek Pasture campground outside of Canyonlands National park whose mission is to climb and enlighten, to bring a little bright bit of rainbow to every place they go. From the boulders of Joshua Tree to the cracks of Courthouse Wash and among the lofty crags of Yosemite they have scrambled up, set small anchors and suspended glittering glass crystals in places where they catch the light and no mere mortal appears to have placed them. In a particularly inspired moment they flew a kite across the Dolores river canyon in Colorado to string strong fishing line across the chasm, suspended the merest one inch of faceted crystal ball several hundred feet above the roadway below from sheer red sandstone walls. The effect is to have the merest suspicion of a daylight rainbow stars glimmer in the empty blue sky, something seen but more imagined. Watch for another inspired design, a tie dyed angelfish of sizable proportions to appear at a prominent and spectacular viewpoint this summer!
Well, these are just a few ideas to make your visit to the parks this summer more entertaining. If you have more send them to us and we’ll print them here so others can join in the fun.