How to not be THAT tourist when visiting National Parks

 

Every year more than 318 million people visit our National Parks (NPS). What many call our nation’s “best idea”, National Parks have been treasured by Americans for over a century. Some might say we’re even loving them to death. 

I have spent the last 10 years living and working in multiple National Parks including Olympic, Glacier, and, most recently, Yosemite. As both a resident of and tourist to the Park’s, I have a unique perspective of the intersection between natural and human communities that call these special places home. Both your experience and the impact you have on the National Park(s) you chose to visit will be greatly improved if you avoid these 5 classic missteps.

 

  1. Driving like a Tourist

The chance to see a wild animal, especially from the safety of our cars, is a thrilling experience. And sometimes the beauty of a place can cause you to forget you’re driving at all. However, the temptation of stopping in the middle of the road to take a picture, swerving into oncoming traffic while your gaze stays on the “wild” deer, driving so slowly that the ground squirrels can keep up with you is not only a bother to the locals but is actually dangerous. We know it’s beautiful. We know it’s exciting. Just please pull over.  

Picture: An example of “tourist driving” (Washington Post)

 

 

2. Dismal Bathroom Etiquette

This misstep is the main reason that you cannot drink straight from a mountain stream without fear of giardia. It’s not the animal poop that will make us gut wrenchingly sick, it’s our own human feces. So please, PLEASE, bury that poop! The vast majority of people either choose not to or are uninformed of this critical Leave No Trace protocol. Also, pack out your toilet paper if you choose to use it. “Paper lilies,” as they are sometimes referred to, not only pollute the environment but are a major eye sore while hiking. 

Picture: The dreaded paper lilies (Pacific Trail Crest Association) 

 

 

3. FOMO (fear of missing out)

A large draw of our country’s remaining open, undeveloped spaces is the silence. Many seek to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and connect with nature. If you are coming to the National Parks for “solitude” and “relaxation,” do not fall into the trap of FOMO. The hoards generally start hiking around 10:00 a.m. and all go to the same “can’t miss” trails. If you really want some solitude, start your hike either before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. and put in the effort to hike the longer trails.

Picture: Glacier’s famous Hidden Lake Overlook Trail at its worst (NPS)

 

 

4. Domesticating the Wildlife

Yes, they are cute– and their fur makes them seem so cuddly! But please, don’t be the person who feeds mountain goats skittles. Not only is human food unhealthy for wild animals, feeding wildlife can disrupt their natural foraging rhythms, causing them to starve in the winter months. Or worse, animals that become aggressive towards humans often have to be put down by Rangers. Resist the urge! Save a bear. 

 

Picture: The first director of the National Park Service, Steven Mather, feeding a bear in 1923 (PBS). We know better now. Read the “Night of the Grizzlies” if you still think feeding bears (or any other wildlife) is a good idea. 

 

 

5. Accidental Death

There is a 607 page book called “Death in Yosemite.” Do not make the book 608 pages! A major rising cause of accidental deaths in recent years is, you know it, the “selfie.” Though selfies appear innocent and safe, if you’re trying to get that –perfect– shot dangling over a 2,000 ft. waterfall luck may not always be on your side. The quest for extreme selfies killed 259 people between 2011 and 2017…don’t be the next selfie victim! (BBC)

Picture: Dumb Selfie (National Park Trips)

 

 

 

 

Author: Sara Edwards

Sources:

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/annual-visitation-highlights.htm

https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-45745982

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/if-youre-dumb-there-are-lots-of-good-ways-to-have-a-bad-time-at-a-national-park/2019/05/14/ec3eade0-7653-11e9-b3f5-5673edf2d127_story.html

https://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/media_detail/280/ Continue reading “How to not be THAT tourist when visiting National Parks”

5 Missoula Bands On Their Way To Being Household Names

Pearl Jam

It’s no secret to those of us in Missoula that we have a music scene with the potential to launch bands to the next level. With local claims to fame in Pearl Jam, The Decemberists, and The Lil Smokies, who’s to know who the next act to burst out of the local scene will be? Not me, but I have my suspicions. So, below are my top 5 Missoula bands (in alphabetical order) that are making moves to become national names.

Author’s Note: There are so many amazing acts in Missoula, it’s impossible to give them all the recognition they deserve. These are my opinions and my opinions only, based solely on interactions with and what I know about each group or individual.

Chloe Gendrow

Chloe Gendrow – photo by Ryan Schmitz, collage by Kamilla Varga

While on a bit of a (much deserved) hiatus after graduating from the University of Montana, the release of full-length album 22 Below, extensive touring, and being featured on the lineup for Pilgrimage Music Festival with names like The Killers, Foo Fighters, and Keith Urban- Gendrow certainly holds promise for becoming a leading lady in pop music.

Getting an early start on her career while still in school, Gendrow was featured on Missoula to Memphis, an album put out by UM’s student record label Switchback Records and the Entertainment Management (UMEM) program. Her cover of Elvis’s “And I Love You So” and a live performance at a Switchback Records Showcase caught the ears of many friends and advisors of both the label and UMEM program that have proved to be helpful connections.

The Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent – photo by Sara Diggins

The 7(ish) piece group that is The Fertile Crescent has had a big few months. In January they released their single “Onion Garden” on the same night that they filled The Top Hat to capacity. With LA-based management and connections to publicists in place, the band is already setting their sights onto bigger and better things.

The band has said to expect a full length album by summer, but what about larger Logjam Presents venues or a summer tour? This extremely driven group of students might just have the ambition and connections to do all that and more.

Letter B

Letter B – photo by Mikey Graef

With a full-length album and an EP under their belt and promises of new recorded music soon, Letter B has been carving a name for themselves in Missoula’s music scene for years, and it’s working. Not to mention that they’re touring machines- letting other cities know who they are, as well.

With multiple packed Top Hat shows, the band seems to have received more promotion from local giant Logjam Presents than a good amount of other local acts. With Logjam ranking in the top 100 promotors nationwide, this certainly doesn’t hurt. If my math is right, adding Letter B’s local power and continued heavy touring together could result in a major breakthrough for the band.

Norwell

Norwell

When listing popular Missoula bands or artists, Norwell may not be one of the first you’d think of. However, I dare you to make that same list without naming at least one other band that Norwell front man Brady Schwertfeger isn’t involved in. As Brady is a master of collaboration, a good amount of Norwell’s success is in working with other artists- including recording with Chloe Gendrow, Ira Wolf, and Maxy Dutcher.

Another local collaboration with UM’s Switchback Records placed Norwell and Ira’s cover of “I Hear A Symphony” in the hands of LA music professionals who chose to feature it on Falcon Music’s Motown Mixtape, on which the song has outperformed every other cut on the EP by tens of thousands of streams on Spotify.

TopHouse

TopHouse – photo via Logjam Presents

This folk trio has just recently moved from Missoula to Nashville and is doing the thing.

With gigs in the country music capital and dynamic content on their social media (think weekly podcast style vlogs and insane folk-stylized covers of songs like Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” or Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive”) someone with the power to blow these guys up could at any moment.

Honorable Mention: Dead Phones & Dogs

Dead Phones & Dogs

While only halfway Missoula-based, this Missoula/Chicago band deserves to be recognized for all they’re doing to get their path started. Within less than two months of releasing their first self-titled EP, they’re racking up streams just shy of 10,000 on two of their songs on Spotify, largely due to strategic playlisting.

Not bad for a band with 1,300 miles in between the two members.

A blog post for Marketing Analytics at the University of Montana by Aeriel Martens. Do you agree with my choices? Why or why not? Find me and @ me if you need to. <3

Pick Bahía when picking Mexico

This whole trip was done through Silver Shark Adventures out of Los Angeles, CA

It can be overwhelming when choosing where to go on vacation. Many choose Mexico because it’s warm, easy to get to and for their beautiful culture and cuisine. Not too many choose Bahía de Los Angeles though. This little town is located on the Baja California Sur and it’s pretty much a secret ocean safari.
One of the reasons why tourists don’t tend to travel to Bahía is because the only dependable way to get there is by car. Most will fly into LAX because TJ can be a little unpredictable but from LAX it is a 12-hour drive down to this desert oasis.
I think there is something to be said to vacationing where many choose not to. It feels untouched, more serine and like you’re apart of the place that you’re staying. On our first night, I had the beach all to myself and could just hear the waves crash against the shore. I couldn’t wait to go sleep so I could wake up and embark on our first boat ride.
We started our ocean safaris around 7 am to beat the heat and be able to see as much marine life as possible. We were all eager to see everything but we all also had the same goal in mind, to swim with the whale sharks.
There were definitely other headliners though along the way. I fell in love with the dolphins, they traveled in large pods and found the boat to be one of the most interesting things. Their love for the waves produced by the boat was unmatched.
I honestly couldn’t get enough of these guys. They were so playful and we even got in the water with them at one point. Once in the water, you could really hear how they communicate with each other using their echolocation
The water in Bahía was like glass on most days and felt like a warm pool when jumping in. Just some more reasons on why to choose Bahía.
We were on the boat for about 7-8 hours a day for 4 days. This might sound like a lot but it was perfect. We had lunch breaks and were able to jump into the sea anytime we got hot. It was a great way to all get to know each other since all of us girls were solo travelers.
*Please excuse the swearing, it was very exciting*
On the second day, we saw two huge fin whales. There were only 5 of us on a small boat so we were able to really get a sense of how enormous these whales are, coming in as the second-largest species on earth behind the blue whale.
We saw everything from sea life to birds, here are some blue-footed boobies! I wasn’t able to zoom in enough to see their feet but here’s a link from Nat Geo!
a handsome pelican!
This is Norma, we saw her a handful of times. She’s currently the largest whale shake in the Sea of Cortez and in my option, the sweetest. She’s 38 feet long and I was lucky enough to swim with her one day for around 20 minutes!
Here you’re able to get a sense to just how large these creatures are when you’re swimming next to them.
Exactly what the doctor ordered after a long day on the boat. We stayed at a hotel on the ocean that was stacked with more of Mexico’s finest.
One of the best parts was simply waking up. All four mornings I had the beach to myself and was able to soak in the sunrise. I even saw some of the hotel owner’s dog fishing for their breakfast while the tide was low.

An Emotional Guide to the University Transfer Process, New School- Same You

By Teresa Zortman

I very distinctly remember being 18 and thinking “I have this figured out.” By “this,” I mean college, and by “figured out,” I really had no idea. The only thing that I knew was that I wanted to leave my suburban hometown, and become “a badass business woman.” With that specificity, what could go wrong? But what happens when you choose the ‘wrong’ place to spend the next four years at the expense of thousands of dollars? What if you are under contract as a student athlete? What if your instagram pictures at the beach make your friends red with envy? I hope that by sharing my transfer journey, at least one struggling college kid can resonate and understand that it is okay to take your college experience into your own hands. Your happiness is important, radical change isn’t the answer for everyone but for myself it was exactly what I needed.

A little about me

I grew up in a California suburb that has become known for the railroad running through it and the rice fields surrounding it. A great place to raise a family, being an hour from the Sierras and two from San Francisco. Pretty perfect for the matured adult, but pretty boring for the car-less teen. Luckily, I was a decent enough track and cross-country runner to get some collegiate attention. After a quick visit to Southern California and a scholarship offer, I was on my way to Los Angeles to start school in the fall, leaving my sleepy old hometown in the dust.

You do not have to be happy all the time, but it should be part of your experience

Have you ever seen the Spongebob episode where Squidward goes to a village of other Squidwards? He thinks it is perfect until he realizes that the days there do not vary or change, and everyone there is fine with that except him. Well, that’s what I felt like after four months in sunny Southern California. The beach is great, but the 10 miles to get there took 25-30 minutes because of traffic. I was running the sport I love, but the practice regimen was starting to break down my body. I had some nice friends, but at night I would still break down alone and cry. Somehow everyone was living in their paradise, except me. I wanted to like this place, I spent so much time telling people about how excited I was to go “Sunny, perfect SoCal” before I left home, I was sure it would pan out.

There came a day I realized that maybe I did not fit in at my current school. I sat and filled out transfer applications to various schools, but I could never send them. Shame that I was “giving up on my team” or that people from home would laugh at me since I was so sure when I left. I felt trapped. I tried to assimilate to the culture and every time it only made me realize even more that I did not fit in. With the way things were going at the moment, I was depressed, angsty, and no-where near the best version of myself. I had never quit something before, that’s why Cross-country and track had come naturally to me, but at some point my course needed to be corrected, so I opened up for that to happen.

When I stepped on the campus I knew

During the Summer, my family was taking our bi-annual trip to Montana. My younger brother was on the college search, so we stopped by University of Montana. An old friend from high school was attending the university and graciously gave us a tour. The tour was for my brother, but I fell in love. The campus lit something inside me the moment I stepped foot on the brick paved walkways. I continued to think of Missoula as we drove away and even when we got home. That was a feeling I hadn’t had before.

So, while sitting at my Southern California University, I applied, got in, and got a scholarship.

There’s no good way to tell everyone

As my second year in Southern California drew to close, the reality that I was leaving began to set in. People would ask me about housing arrangements for the next year, and I just smiled and said “oh yeah! Maybe we can do that!” I knew I had to tell everyone.

So I started with my closest friends.

They were more supportive than I could’ve even hoped for. I felt closer to them because they only wanted what was going to make me happy, if that meant a different school so be it.

Not long after telling them, the news spread on the track team like wildfire. I got people coming up to me asking if it was true, the cat was officially out of the bag. Some people surprised me with how supportive they were, some turned out to be hiding the same secret. One of my closest friendships was forged by the fire we went under for transferring out. I felt so loved by people who I would’ve never expected. For those people I am so grateful. Others were not as supportive, and still do not talk to me, but that was something I had to learn to be okay with. It strengthened me in patience and love so much that the depression and anger that lived in me no longer had a place to live, even if they felt entitled to be there.

It’s okay to doubt

Before I left, even though I had been accepted to UM and more and more details of the transfer had begun to come together, I still questioned my decision. I would love to say that it was ‘easy’ since I was clearly struggling, but the reality was I was living a life that I knew would be discontinued in a matter of months. After the good workouts, the beach visits, the good days, I truly questioned if I should just pull the plug on the transfer and gut it out. I remember breaking down on the phone with my Mom wishing that I would just know what the right choice would be, she simply said “you’ll end up where you are supposed to be.” As I sit here in my favorite coffee shop in Missoula, I can say she was right.

Where I am now

Almost everyday, my decision to come to University of Montana is affirmed. The University took all but a few of my transfer credits, and supportive staff has made me enjoy academics truly more than I ever have before. I have formed close friendships with other friends, transfers and traditionals alike. I even entered a sales competition within the business school and took home 3rd, bringing internship opportunities and close relationships with inspiring professors that I had not known before. There is a sense of comfort that comes with being in the right place, it’s unexplainable.

Even though as I am writing this it is -5˚ in Missoula and Sunny and 65˚ in Irvine, I have no doubt this is my place.

My Advice

There is a difference between missing home and missing out. Too often, college students feel obligated to gut out a decision they made when they were still in highschool. Psychologically, your brain changes from 18-22, that also happens to be when we, as students, have to make one of the bigger decisions of our lifetime. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind, or making the ‘wrong’ choice for you. Life is as positive or negative as you want to make it, having the courage to take your happiness seriously is not something to be overlooked. Transferring is so often ‘taboo’ because it IS a radical change, but why is a radical change towards happiness a bad thing? Everyone is entitled to pursue their own future and happiness.

Transferring universities is not a “one size fits all” solution. But for some, it can make all the difference.