Derek's Time-Space Warp

A collection of thoughts and experiences as I explore the universe, warping time and space in my vicinity

the spirit of stupid is upon you

This last weekend I went with my family to Jasper National Park to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was just for the Sunday, which meant 4 hrs driving there, 6 hrs actually there, and 4 hrs driving back. Unfortunately, the weather left a lot to be desired – it was heavily overcast and it rained off and on – but hey, at least I got a couple hours in the mountains! But that’s not the point of this entry. On the drive back through the park, we saw about 5-10 vehicles pulled over on the side of the highway. Well, anyone who’s been to any national park in the mountains of the USA or Canada knows what that means: somewhere out there, a wild animal is trying to mind its own business while dozens of gawking tourists are trying to take its photo or (gasp!) feed it. Never mind that there’s a huge sign blaring “IT IS UNLAWFUL TO APPROACH OR FEED WILDLIFE.” Anyhow, what the heck, we thought. So we pulled over to see if we could see what everyone was looking at. Turns out there was a HUGE bull elk calmly grazing not 10 feet from the road. So we parked in a strategic spot and out came the cameras.

As we snapped photos, a mother with two very young children moved directly in our way and started taking photos. Slightly annoyed, we were going to pull forward, but then we heard the mother urging her kids closer to the elk. Then the mother blurted out, “Oh he’s so taaaaame!!” I think my jaw just about hit the floor right then. With that mother’s apparent level of intelligence, I was surprised she even knew it was a “he.” By now we were riveted to the windows, staring open-mouthed at the scene unfolding before us. Those people had no idea how fortunate they were to walk away unscathed, or heck, alive. I mean, come on, we’ve all read or heard about stupid tourists in national parks, but this takes things to a new level. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this same mom would try to apply bear spray to her kids to ward off grizzlies. Being late summer, it was getting close to rutting season for that elk. For those unfamiliar with what “rutting season” is, it’s that time of year when males fight for the right to mate with a particular female. Think about the biggest guy you’ve ever seen at the gym, imagine the consequences of coming between him and his woman, multiply that by 10, and you’ve got the picture. That elk could’ve seriously injured all three of them in less time than it takes to talk about it.

I can’t help but wonder about the cognitive abilities of some people’s brains. I mean, yes, there are signs, and we’ve all seen the warnings in those pamphlets they hand out when you pay your park admission. But how do you get rid of the idea that these are “tame” animals? This ain’t no zoo, people! Amazingly, those rangers *don’t* actually herd the animals into pens at night and then release them in the morning! Some might see this as evidence of Darwinism (i.e. survival of the fittest), and I could go on about lack of education and so on. But how do you cure that pure, jaw-dropping kind of stupidity? Sigh…

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