Compass: Bear Backpacking

From Disney World to the Teton Mountain Range, I have experienced many beautiful places as a result of my family’s love for a good road trip. Throughout this column, we will explore parts of the country by using my memories. I will talk about the experiences, places, and types of people that have made my travels exciting and diverse.

The first place I can distinctly remember visiting on a road trip is Yellowstone National Park. I was about nine years old when we took our tan Chevy Malibu packed with three kids, my mom, and my aunt cross country. Myself, my little sister, and my, at the time, baby brother crammed into the back seats while we drove the drivers bonkers with our childish songs/screams.

As you may know, Yellowstone is in Wyoming, spanning across 2.2 million acres. You are able to drive through the park and the many parts of it. When you drive through, there are places to park and explore, one of these places being the Grand Prismatic Springs, or hot springs. These hot springs smell horrible and are extremely hot, as the name implies, but they are beautiful. I took the following picture on my last visit to Yellowstone; it was one of the deepest springs.

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During my first trip to Yellowstone National Park, we drove through but stopped at the hot springs among a few other stops. My mom was worried that my toddler brother was going to fall into one of the Grand Prismatic Springs and burn alive, so she took preventative and creative steps. Have you ever seen those animal backpacks that have attached leashes? The child wears a harness backpack and the parent holds the connected leash so the child cannot run wild. She attached a brown bear backpack to my brother and we walked the paths, seeing and smelling each hot spring. My sister and I, both competent enough to know not to wander into a boiling pool of water, were enthusiastic about the adventure. I remember the pure excitement to be experiencing something new with people I love.

In Wisconsin, where I have lived the majority of my life, there is nothing even close to a hot spring. Because I had come from a scenic but boring state, it was amazing to see something I had never dreamed of before.

While we walked the paths by the Grand Prismatic Springs, my aunt, who was a young adult at that time, poked fun at the bear backpack secured around my brother. Even though he was cute, it was peculiar to see him on a leash like a dog. The funny part is, now that she has young children, she sees the value in a leash.

Yellowstone National Park is absolutely beautiful and many road trip memories stem from it. This memory is one I think on fondly and I always smile at my younger self whenever I picture myself there. I was so excited to be somewhere new and experience something different, and honestly, not much has changed.