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Driving along the roads of Yellowstone is one of the most peaceful things I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The smell of smoke mixing deliciously with my Grandmothers lavender perfume, with just a hint of sulfur tickling my nose was interesting, and strangely relaxing. Traffic jams are almost as nice to encounter, seeing as they usually mean that there is wildlife near the road, crossing the road, or standing in the middle of the road. Unfortunately, experiencing nature up-close sometimes makes people do incredibly stupid things.
We, meaning my grandparents, various cousins, and I, were driving along, enjoying the breathtaking scenery. The trees lined the road like some sort of royal guard, sent to make sure humanity didn’t get too close. As my mind wandered I wondered what the tree guards did to the intruders who were foolish enough to enter the depths of their ranks. Right when I was about to finish that interesting train of thought, I was jolted into reality when my Grandpa slammed on the breaks. (Yes, slammed, subtlety isn’t his strong point.)
I was about to demand an explanation, although half the car was already launching into a tirade, when I spotted a slew of cars that were haphazardly sprawled across the road, like someone had spilled a bag of marbles across the intersection.
This had effectively halted our progress forwards towards the Rainbow Pools, to the dismay of all. Before my crazy cousins could hop out of the car and attempt to create a path through the jumble, we heard Grandma cry “Look, it’s a moose! Don’t you see it?”
I, in fact, could not. Straining my eyes, I curiously peered out of my window. My window was apparently the prime spot to be for seeing wildlife, mostly because it was the closest to that side of the forest, which caused a mad rush of nature-crazed teens to lunge for my seat. I was blissfully unaware of the disorganized jumble of limbs until they all collided with me, fighting for the best spot, which was, rather unfortunately, right where I was sitting. The next few seconds were a bit of a blur, and the next thing I knew, the pleasant aroma of the natural park was replaced with the odorous stench of the cheap leather seats that my face was being pressed into.
Trying to wiggle my way out from beneath the writhing mass of relatives and siblings, I had lost all hope of seeing the moose, or even breathing, when one of the only tree branches in my line of vision suddenly moved. I was immediately enraptured with the mysterious tree branch. It looked a little too smooth to be an average tree branch, a little too fuzzy. Fuzzy?
Then it hit me, along with the elbows of several over-exited teenagers, it was an antler! Several of my more vocal cousins saw it as well and took it upon themselves to yell as loud as they could while hanging out of the window in an amazing display of balance “AN ANTLER, LOOK!” Which alerted most of the clueless populous to the moose's presence.
The whole mass shifted on me, which was rather unpleasant, and looked, along with everyone else in the crowd. Another one of my cousins speculated “That’s probably why all these people are crowded here”
By now every person who was stuck in the traffic jam had their cameras out and was mindlessly snapping pictures of the moose’s antler, and all had an incredibly bright flash on. The moose seemed to think that the flashes were obnoxious too, but instead of moving away from the irritant it partially stepped out onto the side of the road. Seeing the apparent “curiousness” of the moose, pretty much everyone except me in the car wanted to hop out and get a closer look. Before the mass exodus could occur, someone beat us to the punch, someone who didn’t seem to be able to walk straight, let alone think.
A couple of boys exited their white, rather spotless car and announced their intent to the whole congregation while tightly clutching their beer cans and trying to reign in maniacal grins. They were, apparently, going to touch the moose and their “buddy”, who was also inebriated, was going to take a picture of them. What a great friend.
Another flurry of flashes suddenly assaulted my eyes as every person within earshot began to take pictures of the two. The dynamic dummies tried to heroically march up to the moose, but ended up swaying and swerving while laughing hysterically at the other’s attempts to look coherent, and ended up engaging in a face making contest before they were even halfway to the tree line. Their faces were really, really flexible, and I was perfectly fine with watching them try to one-up each other, but the rest of the crowd sent them back on track.
The moose looked extremely insulted at their resumed approach, as if saying “You sent these two yahoos to take a closer look? That’s all you got? Pshaw” And with that look still firmly etched upon its face, it turned and stumped off into the woods without a second glance towards the offending drunkards.
The boys looked ridiculously triumphant as they swaggered back to their car. They were under the impression that the moose saw them and was so terrified that it ran off into the woods. Their grins stretched their faces to the breaking point and they bowed to the admiring congregation before them. Some people started clapping, and pretty soon the whole group was applauding the smug looking boys’ efforts. To this day I cannot figure out if they were just humoring them or were actually impressed with their display of “manliness”, but I sincerely hope that it was the former. After it was clear that the moose had disappeared and was not coming back, the cars that were blocking our path started moving. As we resumed our journey towards the pools, I marveled at the sights. After that show of stupidity, I simply found it amazing that the park had lasted this long, and I intended to enjoy it.