Not Following the Rules in Yellowstone can be Fatal

accident, america, commentary, parks, photography, thermal features, wyoming

thermalEarlier this week, there was another senseless tragedy in Yellowstone.

People do stupid things all of the time.  Yellowstone is not a place to do stupid.

Yellowstone can be dangerous – especially if you don’t follow the rules.  Some people, a small percentage of those who visit, violate the rules, mostly without consequences. However, there can be consequences, ranging from a ranger’s verbal reprimand or an actual citation for violating the rules to far, far worse.

Yellowstone mud potOne of the worst possible consequences of not following the rules in Yellowstone occurred on Tuesday, June 9, 2016.  Colin Scott, a 23-year-old from Oregon, and his sister were “exploring” Norris Geyser Basin, wandering 225 yards from the safety of the boardwalks – about an eighth of a a mile – when Colin slipped and tumbled into one of the thermal features, an unnamed acidic mud pot, according to one of the park rangers (see video, below). Recovery efforts were ceased after it was determined there was nothing left to recover other than a few personal effects.

Norris is the hottest thermal area in Yellowstone.  In places, there is but a thin crust layer over superheated, acidic water beneath – even well away from the visible thermal features of the basin.

follow the rulesIn 2014, while we were exploring Norris Geyser Basin from the safety of the boardwalks and well-marked trails, I took a photo of a man who was exploring away from the posted and demarcated safe areas.  Just a short time later, I took another photo, this one of of  a hole in the crust that was about as far off the trail as the guy in the picture had been. While the surface of the thermal areas may appear safe, looks can be very deceiving .

On June 6, 2016, at Upper Geyser Basin, home to Old Faithful, a thirteen-year-boy and his father were burned at a thermal feature, with the son subsequently  hospitalized and the father refusing treatment.

“Directly below the surface and in areas where there are thermal features, there can be a lip over the top of the feature that hides boiling hot water below it,” said park spokeswoman Charissa Reid. “So it’s very dangerous to walk off the boardwalk in the thermal areas. Not only is it illegal, but it’s also unsafe. In addition to that, it can damage the thermal features and encourage others to walk off trail by leaving foot prints in the geyserite1 as well, so it is illegal and we do enforce that regulation pretty strongly in the park.“

The tragic fatality at Norris Geyser Basin is but the latest of Yellowstone rule violations that have made it to the internet and media this year.  Two Canadians face charges after picking up what they thought to be an abandoned bison calf, which had to be euthanized when the herd refused to recognized it after park officials tried to return it.  Members of a Canadian film group were cited for walking off the board walk up to the edge of Grand Prismatic Spring, caught after their video of the adventure surfaced on the internet. And a woman was recorded trying to pet a bison near Old Faithful.


1. Geyserite is a form of opaline silica that is often found around hot springs and geysers. Botryoidal geyserite is known as fiorite. It is sometimes referred to as sinter.

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Memorial Day

american history, family, history, holidays, life, war

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Before Shots Were Fired.

american history, art, art on sunday, civil war, military, ocean, south carolina

Art on Sunday #13

Fort Sumter before the Civil War by Bvt. Brigadier General Seth Eastman. (Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Fort Sumter before the Civil War by Bvt. Brigadier General Seth Eastman.
(Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Here, the fort in Charleston, S.C. is intact, but it is surrounded by choppy waters and threatening clouds. The wrecked sailboat in the foreground further foreshadows the coming violence.

Fort Sumter was “one of a series of coastal fortifications built by the United States after the War of 1812— a war that had shown the gross inadequacy of American coastal defenses. The fort belonged to what has come to be known as the Third American System of coastal defense, embodying ‘structural durability, a high concentration of armament, and enormous overall firepower.’ “ (Fort Sumter – Anvil of War, US National Park Service 1984).

Eastman was a career infantry officer and accomplished artist, graduating 22nd out of 46 in the 1829 class at West Point. In 1833, he was assigned to the United States Military Academy at West Point as an assistant instructor of drawing (as used in mapmaking and illustration) where he served for seven years. Between 1849 and 1855 he served in Washington DC as a illustrator for “Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States”, published in six volumes between 1852 and 1857. He was placed under orders to the Secretary of the Interior, September 1867, to February 1870 during which he completed a series of nine paintings for the U.S. House of Representatives depicting American Indian life. In 1870 he was commissioned by Congress to create a series of paintings of important U.S. fortifications. He completed 16 paintings before his death in 1875 and was finishing the 17th, West Point, when he died.

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Game Show Contestant

blast from the past, life, people

Houston Light and Power Prep Bowl, CE King Contestants, 1969-70 school year

Houston Light and Power Prep Bowl, CE King Contestants, 1969-70 school year

 It didn’t last long – just one show, where we we eliminated from the competition – but, hey, how many people can actually say they were on a television game show? Even though it was only a local TV station , KPRC-TV did – and does – serve one of the largest conventional television markets in the country. It was so long ago, though, – 46 years – that there is almost nothing on the internet related to the HL&P Prep Bowl.

While I don’t remember much of the specifics about the competition, I do remember a little.  I did provide some of the answers to questions and it was hot under the studio lights, which were so bright that I could hardly see the audience in the bleacher-like seating.

The competition was held during the 1969/70 school year when Peggy Bulanek, team captain, Paula Krumpelbeck and I were seniors, as I recall, and Pat Kotal and Jerrie Stahl were juniors. It was Peggy’s second time in the competition and the first for the rest of us. Our faculty sponsor, if that’s the right word for it, was history and social studies teacher, Earl Richardson.

I can’t say that we were really a team as I understand the concept today.  I don’t remember any sort of practicing or preparing for the competition.

I honestly do not know how I was selected to be on the team.  Academically, I certainly wasn’t a standout and actually got a “D” – barely passing, and my lowest grade while in high school – from Mr. Richardson one semester.  Up to that point, I had coasted my way through high school, and, during my senior year, I got out early each day so I could go to work under some sort of student-to-work program that they had at the time.  At graduation, I was barely in the top half of my class – as I recall, about 55 out of around 105.

I joined the Navy a couple of years later and never went back to the Houston area, other than three short visits in 1972 – 73 and a couple of days in 1986.  I heard that Mr. Richardson passed away sometime in the last few years, but know nothing of any of the others since I graduated from CE King High School.

(Update: I’ve since learned that, on the date this was first published, February 13, 2016, all of us except Mr. Richardson were still living. Pat Kotal and I exchanged information in a Facebook group. I later read on the Facebook group that Jerrie Stahl was ill with pancreatic cancer and passed away the next day, February 14.)

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Mercury

american history, arkansas, festival, photography

1947 Mercury Club “Spring Model” convertible, Downtown Fall Festival, Russellville, Arkansas, October 25, 2008

1947 Mercury Club “Spring Model” convertible, Downtown Fall Festival, Russellville, Arkansas, October 25, 2008


1947 – 1949 Mercury by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide

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Viewing Presidential Displays

american history, arkansas, museum, photography, politics

William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas, May 12, 2007

William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas, May 12, 2007

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On another beach

autumn, critters, ocean, photography, virginia

Seagull walking on beach, Norfolk, Virginia, December 13, 2007

Seagull walking on beach, Norfolk, Virginia, December 13, 2007

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Kids on a Beach

lake, life, oklahoma, parks, photography

Unidentified children wading along Sandy Cove, beach, Canton Lake, Oklahoma, August 29, 2009

Unidentified children wading along Sandy Cove, beach, Canton Lake, Oklahoma, August 29, 2009

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Canyon View

colorado, desert, landscape, parks, photography

Colorado National Monument , Colorado, September 17, 2011

Colorado National Monument, Colorado, September 17, 2011

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High Flow

arkansas, autumn, hiking, landscape, mountains, parks, photography, stream

High flow after recent rains, Cedar Falls, Petit Jean State Park, October 31, 2009

High flow after recent rains, Cedar Falls, Petit Jean State Park, October 31, 2009
at the end of Cedar Falls trail

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