Heard around the West


The National Park Service's Park-'N'-Drive Competition is getting intense: One tourist pulled a knife on another last fall in a fight over a Grand Canyon parking space. Already this season amid the canyon's gridlock, a woman who boldly stood in a parking space - trying to save it for her husband and their car - nearly got run over by a competing motorist who sensed an opening. She had to scramble out of the way, reports The Dallas Morning News, as the intruder pulled in angrily and claimed the coveted space. However, rangers let the perpetrators slide, making no bust in either case.

Meanwhile, The New York Times has discovered national park campgrounds being taken over by $100,000 RVs that are like cushy condos on wheels. In some campgrounds, RVs now outnumber tents 3-1. In Olympic National Park, RV-encased tourist Redman Hulse seemed amused: "A tent - oh, for heaven's sake, are you kidding me?" More and more, the Park Service seems aptly named.

On average every day this summer in Yellowstone, one major charismatic wild animal gets run down and killed by all the internal-combustion traffic, reports Montana's Livingston Enterprise. Kerry Gunther has the job of scavenging all Yellowstone's roadkill. Gunther stores the bloody carcasses of moose, elk, bear, deer, owls, etc. in a freezer, so (of course) the evidence can be meticulously studied. "It's not fun," says Gunther. "It's not glamorous ... It's not what I had in mind when I went into wildlife management." No word on whether any of the four-legged victims were trying to occupy parking or campground spaces.

On the other hand, maybe it's good that some park tourists shun the gas pedal. In Canyonlands, the official report is that a woman "walked away from her campsite ... under the influence of LSD' - the mind-blowing drug. "A major search was launched," harnessing rangers, the local sheriff's department, rescue dogs and helicopters. "Wandering for three days and two nights in cold, rainy weather," the woman - possibly acting out of a drug-induced paranoia? - managed to avoid all the searchers. She found her own way back to her campsite, and reappeared uninjured, which the Park Service says "is surprising for the ordeal she had put herself through." The agency spent about $9,000 searching for the wasted wanderer ...

What is it about the eerie rocks of Canyonlands? Shortly after the LSD hit the fan, a man camping out required the attention of rangers when he got high on hallucinogenic mushrooms. There were busts in both drug cases. The Park Service, by the way, has a "zero tolerance policy' - at least when tourists try to lift off.

Heard Around the West hopes readers will send in tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Write to Heard, c/o HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]

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