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 has 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 road sign 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 markings 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, why should only railroad boxcars be works of art? Chisel your sobriquet into a hundred stony surfaces before the only place it can be found is on the granite of your gravestone.
Public Art. Why should Christo have all the fun. What more stupendous setting could there possibly 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, who 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, prisms and pendants 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 tiniest suspicion of a daylight rainbow star glimmering in the empty blue sky, something perhaps 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!
Trip Wires And Snares. Imagine the surprise of an unwary hiker strolling along when, KAPOOF! he triggers a confetti bomb that showers him in multicolored paper bits. How about the simple mud filled pothole covered with sticks an leaves? Glitter bombing can take on a whole new meaning outdoors, the trails could sparkle for decades with more than just mica an schist.
Feed The Animals. After years of warnings about how feeding the wildlife has made them dependent think of how they must be starving. Always bring along a loaf of stale bread, it’s lightweight and almost everything, from bitty birds to big ole bears will eat it. Your Grandpa has a home movie of him feeding Yogi, why should you be left out, get the gopro out and a can of tuna, be creative. Remember you don’t need to outrun the bear, just your buddy.
Decorate With Fire. Fifty years ago the park service built huge bonfires atop Half Dome at Yosemite and pushed the embers over the edge to the delight of all as the firefall lit the night. My uncle would liven things up by tossing a cupful of gasoline into the campfire at bedtime, oh what a glorious spectacle. Fire is your friend, experiment!
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.