Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Here's another story too "good" (awful) to keep to myself:
'Gestapo' tactics meet senior citizens at Yellowstone.

It's an interesting look into what happened to a group of senior tourists who had the bad luck to be on a 9-day bus-tour of Western parks when the government shutdown went into effect.

Some of the highlights:

For many hours [Pat Vaillancourt's] tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.

The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.

When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.

 . . .
Rangers systematically sent visitors out of the park [Yellowstone], though some groups that had hotel reservations — such as Vaillancourt’s — were allowed to stay for two days. Those two days started out on a sour note, she said.

The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.

“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.

The seniors quickly filed back on board and the bus went to the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s premier lodge located adjacent to the park’s most famous site, Old Faithful geyser. That was as close as they could get to the famous site — barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door.

“They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside,” she said. “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”

. . .

As the bus made its 2.5-hour journey out of Yellowstone, the tour guide made arrangements to stop at a full-service bathroom at an in-park dude ranch he had done business with in the past. Though the bus had its own small bathroom, Vaillancourt said seniors were looking for a more comfortable place to stop. But no stop was made — Vaillancourt said the dude ranch had been warned that its license to operate would be revoked if it allowed the bus to stop. So the bus continued on to Livingston, Mont., a gateway city to the park.

The bus trip made headlines in Livingston, where the local newspaper Livingston Enterprise interviewed the tour guide, Gordon Hodgson, who accused the park service of “Gestapo tactics.”

“The national parks belong to the people,” he told the Enterprise. “This isn’t right.”

They weren't allowed to "recreate"-- i.e. take photos of something that was happening right outside the bus?  Good grief!  Makes about as much sense as blocking off the roadside viewing areas for Mt. Rushmore and "closing the ocean".  If these *@&$!^#  could figure out a way to do it, they'd block out the sun over all national parks and monuments for the duration of the shutdown.  Maybe remove all oxygen, too, for good measure.  "I'm sorry, ma'am, but that's park air you're breathing.  You're not allowed to breathe National Park air until the park is reopened.  I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to hold your breath as long as you're on federal land.  Better get a move on; it's quite a walk.  Oh, and have a nice day!  Oh, sir!  I'll have to ask you to close your eyes as you make your way to the nearest park exit.  You're enjoying the natural beauty, and all enjoyment is strictly prohibited until such time as the All-Powerful Government reopens the park.  In the meantime, pleasure of any kind is not allowed on federal land."