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Havinganationalparks’gun-totingprovisionslappedontocreditcard reform legislation isn’t as odd as it might seem. It’s all in the name of freedom.Whencreditcardswentviraloverthelastthreedecadesthey turned individuals into mini-Feds. Anyone could be Alan Greenspan and print money! It’s refreshing to have the money supply be set by your next-door neighbor. Counterfeiting took a big hit when printing cash became discretionary. Over the years I’ve kept the twenties’ presses rolling. So, why not let freedom ring? Since individuals can print money, why can’t they arm themselves at least as well as Third World militias, ready for whatever jihad that interests them? From my cold dead hands, etc. My household (wife, child, me) went to Yellowstone last June. And when you go to Yellowstone in June, you get more than a summer vacation–you get a spring/winter vacation. Snow remains, both on the mountaintops and in the valleys. Our boy was seventeen at the time and wanted nothing but adventure, whereas I was just trying to keep up. So we’re climbing snow-capped peaks (Bunsen) at the tip of the park,wayuponthenorthernedge,nearMammoth.Thenwe’researchingforgrizzlies ,notanoccupationIeversought.There’salotofwildlife Arming Yourself for the Outdoors 27 28 around that you can see by car (by rent-a-car in our case). It is wonderful to see two grey wolves running alongside a river, or a pronghorn giving birth, bouncing on her thin legs to shake out her new offspring, or a moose resting in a grassy gully alongside the highway. But it was the long hikes I tended to balk at and not for cardiovascular reasons. In Yellowstone you see this odd lemming-like crowd movement, the crowd made out of a variety of vehicles. A grizzly sighting ! The roads in early June are not heavily traveled and one comes upon suddenly a clot of caravan grouped on a road. Cameras and binocularsarerife ,allpointedattheanimaloranimals,but,asoflastJune, no rifles, shotguns, or Glocks. The first bear we saw was a large black one playing around a tree. Laterintheafternoon,amothergrizzlywithanewborn,loppingdown a hill. Isn’t that cute! June in Yellowstone, since it’s actually spring in Yellowstone, sees a lot of birthing. And you know how parents are when they have young to protect. AsIwatchthepeopletryingtogetascloseastheycanfortheirpicturetaking (untilarangershowsupandshoosthembacktotheroad)I think of Jeff Goldblum’s lines in the second Jurassic Park movie. “First it’saahsandoohsandthenit’sscreamingandrunning.”Hewastalking about dinosaurs. It is, what? thrilling, to see a grizzly. That mother was large.Unfortunatelyforme,thehillshewasrunningdownwasaround the corner from our destination, the starting site for our long hike. But that wouldn’t deter my wife and son. So, we park at the trail head and walk. I had read the handouts. If you see “carcasses” when you’re hiking you should be alerted to the presence of bears. When we reached a high plateau there was nothing but carcasses along the worn path. When we hit the halfway mark of the hike there was a very large carcass, not that old, in a nearby thicket. Maybeithadjustdroppeddead.Heartproblems.Thetroublewithpre- 29 serving wilderness in its “natural” state is that it remains wilderness. The centuries evaporate. This could be the nineteenth, but where was my buckskin and long rifle, or at least a big Bowie knife? Only an idiot would travel this landscape unarmed, I said to myself, long before I became aware the NRA wanted to equip me with a Kalashnikov for our next tour of the park. Heading back to Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole, we did think of looking up Dick Cheney, a resident of sorts. It’s nice to have an airport in a national park where the rich and well-armed can fly in. We had heard about Cheney and tales of his secret service detail from a river guide. He had to rescue a couple of them who got beached on an island in a stream. Cheney had scuba divers on hand in case he ever fell in the river while fishing. Cheney, an espouser of the thumb-screw way of life, of course, knows how to fire guns. And it won’t be just him any longer packing heat in our magnificent national parks soon. Look out. First appeared in the South Bend Tribune, June 6, 2009.© 2009 The South Bend Tribune Corp. ...


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