Gnarly weddings, arachnid entertainment and gorilla gifts

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

MONTANA

Weddings aren’t usually described as “gnarly,but the word seems right for one ceremony on the scenic shores of Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. Videographer Stanton Giles was filming the August nuptials when his camera was drawn from the groom’s promises of everlasting love to a dramatic commotion across the lake: A grizzly bear charged out of the bushes and tackled a moose calf while its mother looked on. Giles told Newsweek that the bride and groom were still in mid-vows when the wedding party noticed what was going on, and the festivities were forced to pause until the bear finished killing the calf. “He was there for just about as long as it took to kill the calf,Giles said. “As soon as it died and quit struggling in the water, he dragged it back up into the trees.The shocked guests weren’t sure how to react, Giles said — this sort of thing rarely comes up in etiquette manuals — though the suggestion was made to turn up the music to “drown out the sound of death.The entire three-minute-and-30-second scene was captured on video for posterity and uploaded to YouTube, where it’s been viewed over 400,000 times. Nature is beautiful and terrifying. And nuptials held in the great outdoors sometimes give new meaning to the words “till death do you part.

Armando Veve/High Country News

CALIFORNIA
As house pets go, tarantulas are an acquired taste. The creepy crawlies aren’t for everyone, but arachnid admirers in Coarsegold, California, want everybody to love them as much as they do. The 25th annual Coarsegold Tarantula Awareness Festival, celebrated on the last Saturday in October in Coarsegold Historic Village, honors the flamboyant fuzzies and their contributions to the ecosystem. NBCLosAngeles.com noted that the festival featured pumpkin cheesecake, a costume contest and tarantula-inspired poetry, not to mention the chance to meet, touch and even hold the guests of honor. The festival organizers seek to educate the public and destigmatize enormous hairy spiders. Another tarantula festival was held in La Junta, Colorado, in the first week of October. According to Fox21news.com, attendees celebrated the arachnids and their annual mating ritual, which doesn’t involve a dating app called “Spinder,but occurs naturally on the 443,000-plus acres of the Comanche National Grassland — rather like Burning Man for spiders, with even more legs for dancing.  

MONTANA/WYOMING/YELLOWSTONE
Speaking of legs, a partial human foot, still inside its owner’s shoe, was discovered in Yellowstone National Park’s Abyss Pool in August, near the aptly named West Thumb Geyser Basin, ABC News reported. Could this macabre discovery have anything to do with the 21 other severed feet found washed up on shorelines in Canada and Washington in recent years? Authorities have puzzled over the gruesome discoveries since Aug. 20, 2007, when a girl found an Adidas sneaker complete with foot on Jedediah Island near British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Just six days later, a black-and-white Reebok turned up on Gabriola Island, 30 miles away. Since then, other disembodied feet have washed up around the Salish Sea. However, there is an explanation. Forensic scientists factored in body decomposition, footwear fashions and DNA research to arrive at a cause, and no, it’s not aliens. Or serial killers. Or shark attacks, or overenthusiastic pedicurists. Big Think explained that dead bodies in the ocean are generally picked apart by sea scavengers and bottom-feeders, broken down piece-by-piece in less than a week. Feet, however, might be buoyed to the surface with the help of the lightweight materials found in recent-generation sneakers. Sneakers produced after 2000 are made from lighter foam and have air pockets in the soles. Authorities used DNA evidence to identify most of the feet. But the Yellowstone foot remains a mystery, though we can’t help wondering what else might be lurking in West Thumb Geyser Basin. Some things are better left unknown.

ALASKA
We have long admired the terse but evocative prose of small-town police blotters. Occasionally an item rises almost to poetry. Alert readers John and Eileen Eavis sent us such a clipping from the Seward Journal, whose Public Safety Report compiles data from various sources, including police, fire, EMS dispatches and court documents. How could one not be intrigued by something like this: “A caller reported on June 19 at 2:09 p.m. that on June 19 at 8:36 a.m. an individual in a gorilla suit broke into their yard and left behind a rooster.” Its “just the facts, maam,” as the old Dragnet TV cops would say, but sometimes the facts are enough.

Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. Her book, Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books, 2019), was a Washington State Book Award nominee. She resides in north-central Idaho near the Columbia River Plateau, homeland of the Nimiipuu.

Tips of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected], or submit a letter to the editor

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