10 days and 4 parks completed, there is a fascinating variety of wildlife. The most common species found tends to be the Snowbird. With the exception of some of the larger and more famous parks such as the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, which draw a diversity of generations and nationalities, I generally find myself as “the youngster” of the visitors, as if the parks were in fact the geriatric playgrounds. It just so happens that the toys they bring to show and tell have gotten much larger and more expensive. Or perhaps after buying their $400,000 RV, they had buyer’s remorse and are now seeking the cheapest possible places to park it. They are a social bunch though. They inevitably come in pairs and come evening this can usually be found huddled together with other couples. Politics is the predominate language although offspring also seems to be a common dialect.
While the over 60 crowd is well represented, also easy to spot another common visitor, the young adults with their ducklings waddling behind. Even this can be narrowed down to the family with three or more children all under 12. It’s as if once surpassing a family of four, the hotel room becomes too crowded or expensive and calling it camping has better curb appeal than calling it homelessness. Their migrations tend to coincide with summers or a random week in the spring and they tend to fly via minivan. The oldest invariably looks bored and the youngest is crying from the hen pecking of the middle child. The adults are expert negotiators frequently offering bribes or threats to keep children off the rail, on the path, in the left line, out the right door, quiet in the theater, seated on the bus, not standing on the flowers, hands-to-themselves throughout the tour. Offsprings’ high-pitched voices are heard well before they are seen. These birds do not fly in formation and the causal observer should be alert to unintended close encounter on their erratic flight path.
A third species is known for their colorful down coats and uber efficient, nylon nests. Found predominately in parks known for their backpacking, these juveniles have recently set out from their parents. They travel in two and threes. Converted old vans are coveted modes of flight. The males are distinctive for facial hair and rarely bathing. They are more common than female groupings but female groupings have increased sightings in recent years. They have few vocalizations and tend to keep to themselves unless they have ingested fermented grains.
Being a young and and traveling alone, I don’t fit well into any of these categories. With a distinctive camper, I often feel like a parrot in the wrong forest. I have yet to find my kind. For now given my accommodations, I tend to nest with the Snowbirds. I do hope for more encounters with the elusive juveniles. I expect further in depth study of park wildlife will prove to be educational and entertaining.