June 22, 2022

How the Shenanigans avoided an apparent, imminent bear attack

You might've heard that Yellowstone experienced flooding recently. I wasn't worried. Our reservations aren't until the end of July. I had three weeks with multiple (like 3) cabins reserved. I needed to whittle that down before June 15th, or we'd be charged a partial fee for not canceling within 30 days. 

As an aside:  I reserved these multiple rooms June '21 when we thought the adoption of the two boys would be finalized by now and we needed extra room. Sigh. Also, going back to the pool this year, where I hung out with them every available moment last summer because they loved the pool, has felt a bit odd/sad/different. Wherever they are, are they missing our pool? Everything is fine, but there are times, like when I saw a boy in the grocery store that looked EXACTLY like Harry, that have made me literally freeze. 

Anywho, Coach and I sat down Sunday and played our favorite game of who's on first, or in this case - who is staying back to watch Reg play b-ball and then flying out to Yellowstone, and when do we come home. Coach was like CAN WE STAY IN THE PARK FOR ONLY THREE DAYS? Um, no - not going through the challenge of getting there to bail in the blink of an eye.  

Unrelated, but I attended a scholarship dinner with Ed on Thursday. He let them know I required GF and they fed me with a delicious lasagna. Ed was beside himself that he was served (regular) pasta, since I'd made them eat it for so many days after the grad party. Anyway, I enjoyed this rare treat. I oozed gratitude and they sent me home with ALL of the GF leftovers.

There isn't a convenient place to fly into Yellowstone, so we decided that I'd drive to Sioux Falls on Sunday the 24th with Lad, Tank, Mini, and Curly. After driving 8 hours, we'd pick up Coach and Reg at the airport. 

We discussed an end date. I looked at flights home for Coach, who didn't want to take a week off of work. Flying him home ended up not being feasible. 

Freakishly we were out of frequent flyer miles. I bought 25,000 American Airlines miles to the tune of $800 and redeemed them for the Sioux Falls leg of the trip. I wanted to use miles in case ANYTHING happened and we needed to cancel. I've never bought miles. I tend to accumulate them easily by using my credit card for every-dang-thing. Don't worry (if you're like my dad the previous sentence would make you sweat), we pay the balance every month. Not gonna lie, I think traveling for free because our large weekly grocery haul is so costly and adds up to miles is a decent trade off. 

It felt like a weight was lifted once the details of the trip were nailed down. I called Yellowstone to update our reservation. Because of the flooding and people calling to see what the story was, it was really hard to get someone on the phone. I left a message on a different line just in case no one ever answered at the reservation line. Eventually I got through and the woman was very helpful.

The next day someone at Yellowstone called me back, saying they'd gotten my message.





I stood in my kitchen about to walk out the door to the pool. My chin was on the floor. My kids were staring at me, because I think I gasped and sputtered a bit. My eyes may have bugged out of my head. She came back to the line and confirmed that that part of the park will not reopen this season. 

Enjoy a one minute video of our 2010 Yellowstone trip. This year I think I would've captured more teenagers arguing about leg space and unbearable smells. So, we'll just focus on the sweet memories of days gone by. 

The last two years when the pandemic cancelled our reservation, Yellowstone sent me a special code so I could reserve before the general public who weren't having a Holy Grail Mission Experience. At this point, the reservations for next summer have already opened and Roosevelt, which is where we've been trying to stay for 5 consecutive years, is booked. There'll be no secret code this year, but I'm sensing a secret message:  STAY AWAY. I think we might just have to wave the white flag here. Maybe bring the grandkids one day. 

If you haven't followed the saga, or if you have and you no longer care remember the madness chain of events, I'm creating a timeline to share soon. 

On the bright side, I am assuming the universe is talking to us alerting us that a bear attack was imminent. So, look at us . . . winning. Not being mauled by bears. 

We've been to Glacier, Estes Park, Mesa Verde, and the Grand Canyon. Other suggestions? Not attempting anything this summer. We just went to Europe and Florida and we just bought a car. I owe you details about Prague, and oh yeah - the story behind the car purchase. I still need to share my plan for the summer, and how that's going. Any guesses? Anyone want to invite my messy, hungry family for a visit? Turns out we have some time the end of July. 


Beth Cotell said...

OH NO!!!!!!!!! I'm so sorry. I hope you guys find somewhere to go or something fun to do.

mbmom11 said...

How could they not have contacted you about the park area being closed? That's crazy.
I hope you find something fun to do this July. You could hope on a train and visit downstate Illinois, but there's not much here unless you like trains, corn fields, and boating.
All of our nascent plans for a trip this summer withered due to high gas prices. My husband is working on building a new garage, so no vacation means he can take his time and not work in the afternoons, which are usually humid and miserable. I don't think we've had a family vacation in 5 years.

ccr in MA said...

Oh, Ernie, I'm so sorry! How insanely frustrating. It does seem like a sign from on high at this point. But how did the first woman not know this crucial bit of info??

Nance said...

Love the video. (I would have unbuckled her in a heartbeat. I am a sucker.)

I'm so sorry about your Yellowstone trip. I think, however, that you may be right. It's a sign. Do a staycation and some One-Tank Trips. Wait for another sign.


Kara said...

I have been avidly following your Yellowstone saga, and I have to agree, there's something that DOES NOT WANT YOU TO GO THERE.

We did Great Basin last year, one of the least visited National Parks in the lower 48. It is also in the middle of nowhere Nevada. My husband stopped in Cuyahoga Valley last week for a day, and already wants to go back.

Pat Birnie said...

You are right, this trip seems to be doomed. That video is so cute!! I loved the "unbuckle me so I can see"...adorable. I LOVED all the parks in Utah (Bryce Canyon, Zion...). However our activities there were 100% hiking. I'm sure there are other activities, but I would certainly check first :)

Charlie said...

Oh no! What a nightmare Ernie. I think you’re right at this point, it really isn’t meant to be. At this rate you’ll be taking your grandkids by the time you actually get there! I don’t have enough room for you all, but would say hop on a flight and come to the UK to stay with me in July :) Other than that, I’m thinking of places I want to go in the US. California sounds lovely, but I have no concept of how far that is for you, so I’m not the best to suggest destinations!

Ernie said...

Beth- I'm counting our Europe trip and Florida vacay as our travel for the year. It's a bummer,but not much can be done.

Ernie said...

Mbmom11- I think they were still trying to figure out the master plan. It was a fresh situation. I saw on the news that the park was closed but I assumed it was temporary.

Well we haven't been to southern Illinois. So it would be new. I hear you on tbe gas prices.

I plan to embrace the idea of getting things done since we are going to stay home. Of course Curly's travel schedule just came out, so we will be at games instead. Possibly in Indianapolis.

Ernie said...

Ccr- It is a little hard to believe. Yes, frustrating. Taking it as a message to stay away. Maybe the bears are hungry for a Shenanigan. I think the decision had not yet been made when I spoke to the first woman. I assume they were assessing things still. Even after the woman told me it wouldn't be opening again this season, I didn't get an official email until the next day.

Ernie said...

Nance- Ha. We were probably doing a lot of un-buckling when we were parked on the side of the road to look at something, thus her insistence. I was looking for my fav clip of when she said BEARS 'TACK' YOU. I couldn't find it, but stumbled on this one in the process.

I usually bring most of our food. The gang is older and hungrier since we last did a national park. I was exhausted just thinking about it, but assumed it would be worth it. I am already over it and ready to embrace a less hectic summer.

Ernie said...

Kara- I know you have been paying attention to all these cancelled plans. I shudder when I think of the HOURS AND HOURS I have spent on trying to make this happen.

Your comment is proof that there are MANY parks thst I have not even considered, or even heard of.

Ernie said...

Pat - Thanks. I have so many videos of her saying funny things on that trip. How will I ever make her senior grad video?

We like to hike but we really enjoy spotting wildlife. Sigh. This could be a back to the drawing board time as we consider a trip in the future, or we wait and see what we will do based on what the kids want to do/where they want to go.

Ernie said...

Charlie- It would be fun to visit you. Rain check, please. California is far. A pricey flight. I've never been but I would like to. The trip was doomed, for sure. Tank and Mini are very disappointed.

joymariecooks said...

Oh dear. I'm sorry about your luck but you might be on to something about the bear attack. 11/10 recommend Great Smoky Mountains NP. My parents live in east TN and so I've been there frequently and it is amazing. I think it's within easy driving distance of you too

Nicole said...

OMG ERNIE! The universe does NOT want you to go to Yellowstone, that much is clear. WHAT A SAGA. Time to pivot; I hope you can figure out something else to do. WOW. After all this time!

Jenny in WV said...

I'm sorry to hear that the third time was not the charm either.

Just hanging out at the pool sounds like a vacation to me. Maybe play tourist in your own town? Play mini golf, eat out, visit a museum or other tourist attractions? Drive into Chicago and take pictures by the bean?

Kari said...

What a bummer. I'm very sorry. The Universe is definitely sending you a sign. I hope you can find something else to do this summer. Xoxo

Ally Bean said...

I'm here to say that I don't think this trip to Yellowstone was ever meant to be. IF you go there again it's gonna be spontaneous and it'll all fall into place magically. As for the rest of your summer, how about a staycation then pretend you're tourists and explore places you've been curious about. We did that one year and had a hoot.

Ernie said...

joymarie - I think I was at Smokey Mountains when I was in high school. Thanks for the recommendation. It is a bummer that Yellowstone has been cancelled yet again. I'm ready to move on, but it dawns on me that some of the kids might still really want to go back there. I'm looking at you, Tank and Mini, and maybe even Lad.

Ernie said...

Nicole - You are so right that it is time to pivot. Ha. Plenty of things to keep us busy. We might have to beg an invitation to a friends' lake house, or stay home and do things.

Ernie said...

Jenny - You make a good point. There are plenty of things to do in our area, things we never bother with because they are RIGHT HERE. I was a bit bummed that Ed wasn't going to go with us. Do I dare hope to have all of the kids with us for another vacation sometime soon? Before there are weddings and extra people and real jobs? So hard to find a time that works for everyone.

Third time, not the charm. Plus 5th time that we planned to go, but who's counting at this point.

Ernie said...

Kari - yes, it is disappointing. I'm sure we would've enjoyed it once we were there, but the packing and prepping and all the moving parts and what car did we trust to make it there? Well, there was a lot of baggage with this trip and we hadn't even started packing. There are always places to go and things to do without having to invest in a ten day trip, so we shall see.

Ernie said...

Ally - Not meant to be indeed. Funny that I saw the news with the flooding, and I STILL convinced myself we were not going to be sidelined. On a mission, I was. There are other shorter, more doable trips to take, possibly. There is so much basketball happening this summer, and the next few summers with no end in sight - that I'm honestly fine hanging at home and maybe doing a day trip to a beach. Trying to get all the schedules to align is an undertaking.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I can not believe that your family got the BOOT again.
What are the chances? I agree, Yellowstone is sending a clear message: STAY AWAY.
I'm so very sorry about that, I know it's been a big deal for many years. Can I suggest that you cram all the kids on the sofa and ya'll sit down and watch this:
I'm disappointed for you all.

That video is so stinking cute.

I'm happy that you were finally treated to a good meal and not treated like a lepper.

So sad about the boys, the pool and your heart. I pray that they are in a good place as well. XO

Ernie said...

Suz - I checked out that video link and I'm thinking of suggesting that for our next family movie night/debacle. I might have to serve those old enough/interested in a beer during the showing so they can cry into their beer while we see what we missed.

It was very nice when the caterer sent me home with the rest of the lasagna. I froze it in portions so I could bring it to the family weekend. When everyone ate pizza last night, I ate my frozen lasagna. Yum.

Last I heard the boys had been bounced around to like 5 places in 3 or 4 months. I haven't heard anything since. Their workers hold us responsible for the placement not working and believe the boys that we hurt them, so not easy to reach out and touch base. I can imagine them nudging each other and reminding one another of the fun they had with us at the beach and the pool. That's hard. I do hope they ended up somewhere that worked for them.

Suzanne said...

My mind is boggling at a) they never contacted you proactively to say that your cabin was in an UNOPEN area and b) the person you spoke to about your reservation didn't THINK TO MENTION IT. I am really glad you talked to that other person because otherwise you might be bunking with the bison!

Your second paragraph made my heart hurt for you -- I'm so sorry, Ernie. Of course the pain of the adoption not going through will have longterm and sometimes unexpected reverberations in your life.