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Safe, in Timeout

“You’re all in timeout!  Please listen when I tell you to do something! That’s all I can say right now.” Jolie, our mild-mannered tour guide, was upset with the other thirty-five tourists and me who were on a six-day bus tour.  She sat down on her bus seat.

We’d bought lunches at a grocery store that morning, and Jolie directed the bus driver to a Yellowstone National Park roadside picnic area.  After eating, some people walked to the concrete bathrooms, some toward the bus, some toward the road, and with a few others, I walked toward the woods. Eddie pointed to the ground and said, “Well, a big animal’s been here.  Maybe a bear?”

Moist scat was only six feet from my lunch table. Because it looked similar to the cow patties I’d avoided in farm pastures when I was a kid, I guessed a bison had been there recently.  Everyone around me laughed when I put my foot beside the scat and snapped a photo.  How else could I show my young Grands how big bison scat is?

I noticed one of our group standing near the road and motioning ‘come.’  Two bison, about thirty yards away, were walking on the road toward the parking area and we tourists held our phone cameras.  Jolie screamed, “You got your pictures.  Get on the coach now!” 

I looked behind me and saw Husband walking near the bus.  I waved and hollered, “Just look. No pictures. We have to get on the bus.”  Jolie yelled something about how fast bison can move and again told us get on the coach.

A white pick-up truck turned into the parking area. A park ranger stuck his head out the truck window and yelled, “You’re in danger! Get on your bus!”  I saw Husband near the road taking a photo.  I screamed at him to hurry, and stupidly, ran to the picnic table to get my jacket, then ran the few yards toward the bus.

The bison ventured off the road and onto the roadway toward the bus. People bunched at the bus door. The bison walked nearer the bus and I saw Husband in the bunched group. 

The park ranger beside me yelled, “You’re too slow. Get on the other side of the bus! Now!”  About twelve of us plastered ourselves against the bus, opposite the door side.  The ranger said, “They’ll probably go in the woods. Stay quiet. Don’t move. No pictures.”

The two bison walked along the door side of the bus, turned at the end of the bus and toward the woods. When I saw them, just twenty feet away, I held my breath. “Don’t move or talk,” whispered the ranger.

After the bison walked deep into the woods, the ranger guided us to the coach door.  Just as I sat down beside Husband, who had gotten onto the bus before the bison walked beside it, Jolie put us in timeout.  Safe and in timeout never felt so good.  

This photo made by someone on the bus.