I know it’s not really fair to be unkind about tourist stuff when we are tourists ourselves, but if I see another plastic buffalo I will scream. I know that any place that relies on tourism has a short season in which to make their money, but even so when you’ve spent all day in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming watching herds of real wild buffalo then the large plastic ones at the entrance to a hotel or the small fluffy ones on sale in souvenir shops just seem silly.
Yellowstone National Park is amazing – all 2 million acres of it. Scenery to die for, buffalo, black bears, grizzlies, wolves, elk – we saw all those. Hot springs, gorges, rivers that bubble over stones before plunging several hundred feet down a waterfall. Amazing.
The land was originally occupied by Native Americans and at many of the excellent visitor centres their stories and legends are set out. These are fascinating to read, not for their originality especially, but more for the fact that in so many ways they reflect our own legends and folk stories about creation, our relationship with the natural world, our understanding of the society in which we exist, our sense of community and our reaction to external threats.
Storytelling is universal – it satisfies a basic need in us all – but now I have seen Black Bears in the wild I think Goldilocks had a narrow escape. Not that our ones showed much interest in porridge.