Hippie Days – Of Antelopes, Geysers and Bears, Oh My!

I return to episodes of my memoir Life and Deaf.

Children’s Diary – July 15, 16

We went to Yellowstone Park. We saw the geyser Old Faithful. It shot water high in the air. We saw a bear in the woods. We saw the falls, hot springs and a grand canyon.


We’d done some research before we left, making up our summer bucket list of most desired places and Yellowstone is a top favorite. The kids are jumping up and down as we pull up to the gate, get our tickets, maps, directions and advice, the most critical being “DON’T FEED THE BEARS!”

It’s already getting late so we find the campground and quickly set up the tent before dark – We’re getting good at it by now – and plan our itinerary for tomorrow coordinating with the eruption of ‘Old Faithful’. Exhausted we drift quickly into dreamland. My last waking thoughts are far away from Yellowstone, having returned to the fine friends and safe neighborhood that we’ve ripped ourselves away from in a moment of idealism and principle.

Something is intruding into this placid scene. A scraping sound alerts me. Ray has heard it too. We both tense to listen. Something big crashes to the ground. We both jump but Ray, our savior, always first on the draw, reaches the tent door, and almost rips the zipper off trying to get out. Flashlight in hand, his light grazes across a huge dark shadow. “OMG it’s a bear!” He jumps back, finger across his lips, trying to close the gap in the tent opening. “Shhh! A huge bear just threw the cooler to the ground trying to open it.” It obviously knows the routine and where the food is hidden. The kids are awake and whimpering, eyes wide open and bulging with fear. For once Ray curbs his immediate call to action response and huddles us all together in silence as we listen to the banging, scratching and tearing at the food in the cooler. “Better let him have what he wants, then he’ll leave,” he whispers. When silence reigns once again the children calm and return to sleep. The morning light brings us out of the tent to observe the destruction of the campsite. Next time the cooler will stay in the van. And maybe we will, too.


We clean up the mess. Take note of what food has disappeared: all meat products, cheese, anything open. Only the bottles that didn’t break are left. The rest of the ice has melted.  Hope they have a store somewhere inside the park. We settle on fruit for breakfast and head off to our appointment with ‘Old Faithful’ and are duly impressed by the herds of antelope grazing in the mountains, the powerful waterfalls descending into the canyons and of course the amazing geyser spewing boiling water into the air.