Canadians’ bad behavior, a cat-lover’s nightmare and gun-toting steeds

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

  • WYOMING Lunch on the road.

    Mark Gocke

Watch out: Video cameras can record your adventures but might also reveal you to the world as an absolute jerk. After four men from Canada left a boardwalk at Yellowstone National Park to walk out onto the clearly off-limits, ecologically fragile hot spring known as Grand Prismatic, other tourists quickly took videos of the trespassers to park rangers and also provided pictures of the guys’ recreational vehicle, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide. In fact, the law-breakers themselves initially posted boastful selfies of their crime on their Facebook page, “High on Life SundayFundayz.” The men, all connected with the Vancouver-based clothing company High on Life, have since apologized and promised to donate up to $5,000 to the park. But if they don’t return and face the misdemeanor charges against them, they could be arrested if they try to re-enter the United States. Meanwhile, a video of a woman “petting” a bison near Old Faithful Lodge appeared on Facebook, causing one commenter to note: “I predict there will be a rash of low-flying tourists in Yellowstone this year. Good grief!”

Cat lovers should probably not read the following tidbit, which we discovered in one of those colorful free publications for tourists, this one called Travelhost: Four Corners Region. The Montezuma County Historical Society’s one-page offering stood out, because it featured a woman homesteader’s vivid recollections of pioneer life in the late 19th century. In a 1934 interview, Carrie Smith Dunham told local historian Anna Florence Robison how she and her husband settled “on the Dolores River,” in what is now Montezuma County in the southwestern corner of Colorado. There she became known for her needlework, trading her chokecherry jam to the Indians, who called it “coyote medicine,” for buckskin, which she turned into embroidered gloves for cowboys, at a dollar a pair. But one day, after an acquaintance named Jim Moore bought a place down the river with 50 housecats on it, she got the opportunity to sew something different. Moore bought the ranch on condition that the owner would kill all the cats he’d collected. He did so, “and Mr. Moore tanned the 50 hides and brought them to me to make a robe. I … took a great deal of pains to arrange the cat skins by size and color so that it would look as well as possible,” Dunham recalled, “but it wasn’t the sort of thing I would personally want to have about.” Later on, she learned, a tourist bought the cat-coat for $50.

Huge bronze statues of three horses greet visitors to Chino Valley, Arizona, and now, thanks to a contest, they all have names associated with firepower: “Lock” is the horse facing west toward the valley, “Stock” is the one looking east toward the town of Jerome, and “Barrel” is the rearing and kicking steed that greets drivers coming from Prescott. In her essay, contest winner Mamie Timlick wrote that she always thought the statues represented the guardians of the town of 10,000. “If ever there were a more popular device to guard one’s home since this town was erected,” she said, “it was the firearm, owned and operated by cowboys in pursuit of happiness.” So far, no one seems to have mentioned the dubious hospitality of welcoming visitors at gunpoint, however metaphorically, perhaps because, as one resident put it, “Everyone’s pretty pro-firearms here,” reports the Chino Valley Review.

Summer is coming, and Western resorts are tweaking their tried-and-true tourist activities. Near Ten Sleep, Wyoming, for example, the Red Reflet Ranch is adding classes in roping and ranch skills to its luxury options of a heated pool, zip line and climbing wall, reports

And Portland, Oregon, now has a restaurant featuring “British Colonial Cuisine,” which includes molasses cookies and sausage rolls. Willamette Week says the restaurant picked the perfect neighborhood: “North Williams is the center of the controversy around Portland’s gentrification and the pricing out of black residents. It’s almost a historical re-enactment!” Chef Sally Krantz says she doesn’t understand the backlash: “I’m just trying to make food.”

Meanwhile, near Telluride, Colorado, a boarding facility called Wash-N-Watch Dogs just wants to continue doing what it does so well. Co-owner Lane Conrad, who acts as the alpha of her temporary pack of 40, told the Telluride Daily Planet that if an animal gets aggressive, she responds swiftly: “The dog needs to understand this is not their house.” Without a trace of irony, Conrad adds that she sometimes needs to train her clients as well: “Many owners in Telluride don’t understand the idea of boundaries and rules, but they see very quickly this method does work.” Her goal, she says, is harmony between dog and owner: “What we’re all about is teaching the dog what we want so the dog can succeed, and the dog can make us happy.”

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected] or tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram.

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