Comedy Blog – Road Bison
As you may or may not know, I just spent a week in Yellowstone National Park. I learned a lot about geothermal features while I was there. I’m sure you are aware there are several such features in the park including Old Faithful and a lot of other features that aren’t Old Faithful. Nobody ever talks about those other features.
Another prominent feature of Yellowstone National Park is the bison. There are, at last count, somewhere around twelve billion bison within the boundaries of the park. After five days, you get a little blasé about them.
On our first day, we stopped for a picture whenever we saw a black lump in a field that might be a bison. By the time we left, we wouldn’t even slow down unless there were playing hopscotch or whist or something else that went beyond the typical behavior of standing in a field and chewing on grass while surrounded by two hundred other bison.
I’m not saying I never grew tired of seeing bison. Because I didn’t. At some point, however, seeing bison became the equivalent of watching Adrian Peterson play for the Vikings. Sure, it’s impressive. But is it really making much of a difference?
What I did not know about Yellowstone bison was the fact there are different sub-species.
The most common sub-species is the field bison. They can be found in any field. Actually, they can be found in every field. Whenever we came to a wide open space that was larger than – well – a bison, there was a bison in it.
The more rare but easier to spot bison is the road bison. They can be found on park roads in groups of one or more.
Road bison can be found at any elevation. We found two walking along to road on Dunraven pass, which is over 8500 feet above sea level. They seemed oblivious to the fact the newly plowed road was completely without exit for another five miles.
Road bison have the right-of-way in all situations. There are two reasons for this. The first is park regulations protecting the wildlife. The bison were here first. They built the roads. That’s why there are road bison.
The second reason is the more important one. Bison are fucking huge.
You may have a car shaped steel cage around you so you think you are safe but if that bison decides it is no longer willing to let you share his road, he will push that steel cage right into a river. There are a lot of rivers in Yellowstone.
You know what steel cages do in water? They sink.
And those rivers are filled with cutthroat trout. With a name like that, I can only assume they are the road bison’s enforcers.
When you encounter a road bison, you have one choice. Drive as slowly as you can and wait for them to get out of your way.
Sounds easy, right? Squirrels will get out of your way in a hurry. Squirrels may be stupid but they realize that your car will damage them severely.
Road bison are well aware they can fuck up your car. They assume you love your children and you don’t want to see those trout go to work on them.
The problem with road bison is they walk like 25,000 lb. molting drunk drivers with horns. You think they are going left so you can go around them and then they veer right. All the while making sure you are between them and the trout.
Eventually, the solution to the road bison problem became very clear.
In Yellowstone, the only thing more plentiful than bison are tourists. If you are trapped behind road bison, there are dozens if not hundreds of other people in the same boat.
The trick is to get one of them to go first.
If they whip around you at high speed, the road bison will key in on their car instead of yours.
It doesn’t take much work to get someone else to try the maneuver because most of them haven’t seen Old Faithful yet and they are completely unaware of the other thermal features that also have names. They know that Old Faithful operates on a schedule but they still don’t want to be late. Give them ten minutes and someone will always take the bait.
The bison and the trout will take them down. It’s brutal, but that’s the natural order. Survival of the fittest.
I’m sure Darwin would approve.