These are questions that people actually asked of Park Rangers around the country, proving once again that there is no known limit to the depths
of human stupidity. Excerpted from Outside Magazine, May 1995, pp. 120-121.
Grand Canyon National Park
- Was this man-made?
- Do you light it up at night?
- I bought tickets for the elevator to the bottom — where is it?
- Is the mule train air conditioned?
- So where are the faces of the presidents?
Everglades National Park
- Are the alligators real?
- Are the baby alligators for sale?
- Where are all the rides?
- What time does the two o’clock bus leave?
Denali National Park (Alaska)
- What time do you feed the bears?
- Can you show me where the yeti lives?
- How often do you mow the tundra?
- How much does Mount McKinley weigh?
Mesa Verde National Park
- Did people build this, or did Indians?
- Why did they build the ruins so close to the road?
- What did they worship in the kivas — their own made-up religion?
- Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?
- Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- How much of the cave is underground?
- So what’s in the unexplored part of the cave?
- Does it ever rain in here?
- How many Ping-Pong balls would it take to fill this up?
- So what is this — just a hole in the ground?
Yosemite National Park
- Where are the cages for the animals?
- What time do you turn on Yosemite Falls?
- Can I get my picture taken with the carving of President Clinton?
Yellowstone National Park
- Does Old Faithful erupt at night?
- How do you turn it on?
- When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?
- We had no trouble finding the park entrances, but where are the exits?
Zeke and Zeb decided to build a Bungee Jumping tower in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to see if it would make them some money. After they got it set up, they noticed that the crowds gathered around, but nobody was buying tickets.
Zeke said to Zeb, “Maybe you should demonstrate it to them so they get the idea.” After Zeb was strapped on he jumped and fell almost to the ground before springing back. As he came up Zeke noticed that his clothes were torn and wondered what happened.
Zeb went down again and this time when he sprang back up Zeke noticed that he was bleeding. Zeke thought, “WOW! What is going on here?!?”
Zeb went down a third time and this time when he sprang back, Zeke noticed he had blood, contusions and cuts all over his body.
Zeke pulled Zeb in and said “Zeb, what happened?” Zeb, barely conscious, groaned, “I don’t know, but what’s a piñata?”
A couple went on vacation to a resort up north. The husband liked to fish, and the wife liked to read. One morning the husband came back from fishing after getting up real early that morning and took a nap.
While he slept, the wife decided to take the boat out. She was not familiar with the lake, so she rowed out and anchored the boat, and started reading her book.
Along comes the Game Warden in his boat, pulls up alongside the woman’s boat and asks her what she’s doing? She says, “Reading my book.”
The Game Warden tells her she is in a restricted fishing area and she explains that she’s not fishing. To which he replied, “But you have all this equipment. I will have to take you in and write you up!”
Angry that the warden was being so unreasonable, the lady told the warden, “If you do that, I will charge you with rape.”
The warden, shocked by her statement, replied, “But I didn’t even touch you.”
To which the lady replied, “Yes, but you have all the equipment!”
These are supposedly actual comments left on Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards by backpackers completing wilderness camping trips.
- “A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed? Please call.”
- “Escalators would help on steep uphill sections.”
- “Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness.”
- “Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands.”
- “Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals.”
- “All the mile markers are missing this year.”
- “Found a smoldering cigarette left by a horse.”
- “Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.”
- “Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.”
- “Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter.”
- “Chairlifts need to be in some places so that we can get to wonderful views without having to hike to them.”
- “The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.”
- “Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights.”
- “Need more signs to keep area pristine.”
- “A McDonald’s would be nice at the trail head.”
- “The places where trails do not exist are not well marked.”
- “Too many rocks in the mountains.”
There was a rather old-fashioned lady, always quite delicate and elegant, especially in language. She and her husband were planning a week’s vacation in Florida, so she wrote to a campground and asked for a reservation. She wanted to make sure the campground was fully equipped, but didn’t know how to ask about the toilet facilities. She just could not bring herself to write the word “toilet” in her letter. After much deliberation, she finally came up with the term “bathroom commode”. But after writing that down, she still thought she was being too forward, so she rewrote the entire letter and referred to the “bathroom commode” merely as the “BC”. “Does the campground have its own BC?” is what she actually wrote. Well, the campground owner wasn’t old-fashioned at all and when he got the letter, he just couldn’t figure what the woman was talking about. That “BC” business really stumped him. He showed the letter to several people, but they couldn’t imagine what the lady meant either. So the campground owner finally came to the conclusion that the lady must be asking about the location of the nearest Baptist Church, sat down and wrote the following reply:
I regret the delay in answering your letter, but I now take the pleasure of informing you that a BC is located 9 miles north of the campground and is capable of seating 250 people at one time. It is located in a beautiful pine grove and is open only on Sundays and Wednesdays. I admit it is quite a distance away if you are in the habit of going regularly, but no doubt you will be pleased to know that many people take their lunch along and make a day of it. They usually arrive early and stay late. My daughter met her husband in the BC.
Sometimes it is so crowded there are five to a seat. It may interest you to know that right now there is a supper planned to raise money to buy more seats. They are going to hold it in the basement of the BC. It pains me very much not to be able to go more regularly, but it is surely not due to a lack of desire on my part. As we grow older, it seems to be more of an effort, particularly in cold weather. If you decide to come to our campground, perhaps I could go with you the first time you go and sit with you and introduce you to all the other folks. We will be sure to get a seat up front where you can be seen by everyone. Remember, we are a friendly community.
Sincerely, the Campground Owner.
Our scout master told us all write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and worried. We are OK. Only 1 of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Oh yes, please call Chad’s mother and tell her he is OK. He can’t write because of the cast. I got to ride in one of the search & rescue jeeps. It was neat. We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn’t been for the lightning.
Scoutmaster Webb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn’t hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? The wet wood still didn’t burn, but one of our tents did. Also some of our clothes. John is going to look weird until his hair grows back.
We will be home on Saturday if Scoutmaster Webb gets the car fixed. It wasn’t his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked OK when we left. Scoutmaster Webb said that a car that old you have to expect something to break down; that’s probably why he can’t get insurance on it. We think it’s a neat car. He doesn’t care if we get it dirty, and if it’s hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the tailgate. It gets pretty hot with 10 people in a car. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrolman stopped and talked to us.
Scoutmaster Webb is a neat guy. Don’t worry, he is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Terry how to drive. But he only lets him drive on the mountain roads where there isn’t any traffic. All we ever see up there are logging trucks.
This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Scoutmaster Webb wouldn’t let me because I can’t swim and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood. Scoutmaster Webb isn’t crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn’t even get mad about the life jackets.
He has to spend a lot of time working on the car so we are trying not to cause him any trouble. Guess what? We have all passed our first aid merit badges. When Dave dove in the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Also Wade and I threw up. Scoutmaster Webb said it probably was just food poisoning from the leftover chicken, he said they got sick that way with the food they ate in prison. I’m so glad he got out and become our scoutmaster. He said he sure figured out how to get things done better while he was doing his time.
I have to go now. We are going into town to mail our letters and buy bullets. Don’t worry about anything. We are fine.
by Bruce Cochran; from the Sept. `96 issue of Backpacker
- Get even with a bear who raided your food bag by kicking his favorite stump apart and eating all the ants.
- Old socks can be made into high fiber beef jerky by smoking them over an open fire.
- When smoking a fish, never inhale.
- A hot rock placed in your sleeping bag will keep your feet warm. A hot enchilada works almost as well, but the cheese sticks between your toes.
- You’ll never be awakened by the call of a loon if you have an unlisted number.
- The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.
- Acupuncture was invented by a camper who found a porcupine in his sleeping bag.
- While the Swiss Army Knife has been popular for years, the Swiss Navy Knife has remained largely unheralded. Its single blade functions as a tiny canoe paddle. Effective January 1, 1997, you will actually have to enlist in the Swiss Army to get a Swiss Army Knife.
- Modern rain suits made of fabrics that “breathe” enable campers to stay dry in a downpour. Rain suits that sneeze, cough, and belch, however, have been proven to add absolutely nothing to the wilderness experience.
- Lint from your navel makes a handy fire starter. Warning: Remove lint from navel before applying the match.
- You’ll never be lost if you remember that moss always grows on the north side of your compass. You can duplicate the warmth of a down-filled bedroll by climbing into a plastic garbage bag with several geese.
- The canoe paddle, a simple device used to propel a boat, should never be confused with a gnu paddle, a similar device used by Tibetan veterinarians.
- When camping, always wear a long-sleeved shirt. It gives you something to wipe your nose on.
- You can compress the diameter of your rolled up sleeping bag by running over it with your car.
- Take this simple test to see if you qualify for solo camping. Shine a flashlight into one ear. If the beam shines out the other ear, do not go into the woods alone.
- A two-man pup tent does not include two men or a pup.
- A potato baked in the coals for one hour makes an excellent side dish. A potato baked in the coals for three hours makes an excellent hockey puck.
- You can start a fire without matches by eating Mexican food, then breathing on a pile of dry sticks.
- In emergency situations, you can survive in the wilderness by shooting small game with a slingshot made from the elastic waistband of your underwear.
- The guitar of the noisy teenager at the next campsite makes excellent kindling.
- A large carp can be used for a pillow.
- Check the washing instructions before purchasing any apparel to be worn camping. Buy only those that read “Beat on a rock in stream.”
- The sight of a bald eagle has thrilled campers for generations. The sight of a bald man, however, does absolutely nothing for the eagle.
- It’s entirely possible to spend your whole vacation on a winding mountain road behind a large motor home.
- Bear bells provide an element of safety for hikers in grizzly country. The tricky part is getting them on the bears.
- A great deal of hostility can be released by using newspaper photos of politicians for toilet paper.
- In an emergency, a drawstring from a parka hood can be used to strangle a snoring tent mate.