The summer after I got out of high school I had a job at Community Service & Supply in Mason, and I got to work with some interesting people. One of them was an older fellow named Ray, who didn’t talk a lot, but when he did talk, he said things. You probably know someone who can talk all day without saying anything at all. Ray wasn’t like that. He imparted information. For instance, one day we were driving to a job, and I started singing with the radio. Ray roused himself from where he was slouched against the passenger door, tipped his hat back, looked at me with a grimace, and said, “Son, if you was singing for coon droppings you wouldn’t get a hackberry seed.”
One of Ray’s sayings, which he used when I complained about stuff I probably shouldn’t have been complaining about, was, “You’d kick if you was hung with a new rope.” Meaning, I think, that no matter how good I had it, I would still gripe, which was probably true.
So when I saw an article on travel.alot.com about complaints people have made about national parks, I immediately thought of Ray. The people who made these complaints would definitely kick if they were hung with a new rope. Or any rope. Whiners.
Out of the nine national parks mentioned in the story, I have personally visited six of them, and I would classify them all as spectacular. Death Valley, Yosemite and Sequioa in California, Zion in Utah, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and Grand Canyon in Arizona are some of the prettiest places I’ve ever been, but not everyone has been as impressed as I was.
Someone who had visited Sequoia, for example, said, “This place is dangerous, There are bears, mountain lions and worst of all, sketchy people. Hide your wives, hide your kids, hide your husbands, because they will come through your window. I have spent countless nights all over this park and I am never not disappointed. There are bugs and stuff, and they will bite you on your face.”
Well. Firstly, I don’t think I’d spend ‘countless nights’ in a place where I was ‘never not disappointed.’ I’d go someplace else, although I doubt there’s a national park that has managed to eradicate all the bugs. And yes, bugs will bite you on your face. That’s their job. And the bears and mountain lions have to be somewhere. Also the sketchy people.
My oldest son, Courtland, and I spent a night in Sequoia several years ago. It was summer, and we’d gotten there late, and by the time we had made supper it was about ten o’clock, so we decided to skip pitching the tent. We laid a tarp on the ground and put our sleeping bags on it, and just as we were about to sack out, a park ranger came running up—with a rifle.
Panting, he said, “There’s a bear tearing up camps. We think she’s right over there (pointing). We’re trying to run her off with rubber bullets.” And then he ran off before I could offer him any lead bullets. That’s the main problem with these park rangers. They’re unprepared. Personally, I slept with a contraband .45 in my bag.
One visitor to Yosemite was upset that the composting toilet at Bridal Veil Falls stank. Well. That’s what composting toilets do. Like the bugs, they have one job, and they do it rather well. The whiner said, “This is what happens when you make a place too popular.” Maybe they should make it less popular. Or just remove the toilet.
A Yellowstone visitor said, “When you’ve seen one geyser you’ve seen them all.” Which is true, if you ask me. The geysers in Yellowstone were pretty dismal, and although there was plenty of other stuff to see, another visitor also complained about the geysers, saying, “When we got out of the car, the smell of sulfur nearly knocked my girlfriend off her feet, and the stench followed us through the day as it clung to our clothes and hair.” That didn’t happen to Leret and me, but then, we didn’t bathe in it, either.
One visitor to Grand Canyon described it as “a great big hole,” which is accurate, as far as it goes. This person also complained that “there are areas where there are no fences or gates to reinforce the perimeter.” I guess the perimeter needs reinforcing. Me, I think they leave it so whiny people can fall in, so they won’t harass the help.
A Crater Lake visitor said, “Mosciqitos (mosquitoes) ate my whole family alive.” Which I doubt, otherwise who wrote the review?
Zion is one of the most striking parks I’ve been to, but one visitor didn’t much care for it. “Scenery is grand and huge and up in the air and distant and impersonal. I got bored fast.” I guess some people like their scenery up close, where they can touch it. But then, it wouldn’t be scenery.
If you like spectacular views and wide open spaces, I think you would enjoy all these parks, despite some poor reviews. Just remember to take some bug spray, and watch out for bears and composting toilets.
And by the way, Ray was wrong. One time, when I was singing, I was offered a whole pile of coon droppings . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who sometimes says things. Write to him at [email protected]