As of deadline day, River City Jules was too exhausted from meticulously planning and executing our family vacation to write her column. So this week I, her adoring husband, will entertain you with one of my favorite highlights from our time in Yellowstone, which, as Julie tried to point out to me before we left, is really far.
My lovely wife is, among a thousand other roles, our family’s safety captain. She is the queen of car seats, the baroness of the buddy system, the protector of prescription medication. She even researched a route around the park that would minimize our time on the highly dangerous outer lane of steep mountain passes and has asked me to add that the upper loop is best driven clockwise.
This fine woman I married steers clear of tall buildings, holds hands with other adults when crossing busy streets and single-handedly keeps every plane she boards in the air by reciting her rosary just loud enough for Mary to hear.
Of course she has innumerable qualities that are far less annoying, but I am drawing a blank right now.
Speaking of her unnatural love of Frankie Laine, we were rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ through the spellbinding mountains of Yellowstone when we noticed a string of cars stopped on the road by a meadow. A park ranger was talking to a crowd of onlookers. Feeling slighted by the lack of bear sightings thus far on the trip, I pulled over hoping I would finally see one in its natural habitat.
We piled out of the car and crept toward the park ranger as he explained to us that this bear, 50 yards away, was a baby black bear, likely under the watchful eye of its mother nearby yet out of sight. While our youngest daughter ran back to the car to hide, the rest of the kids and I watched as the bear rolled around in the brush and my dear and normally very safety-conscious wife inched closer and closer for a photo. Yard by yard she moved forward, never quite getting the shot she sought. Visions of mama bear bolting out from the woods and kicking my sweet wife clear to Montana filled my head as I feared I might be left to man the remainder of this vacation solo. We were 1,200 miles from home, and I was not equipped to lead our family vacation with the same efficiency and joyful enthusiasm as my darling wife had thus far.
Sensing my concern, the park ranger called after her.
“Ma’am?” he said, pointing directly to Julie, wearing a T-shirt, a beach towel from our swimming expedition and tennis shoes, “We don’t need any freelancers here. Please join the group.”
I’d like to say I breathed a sigh of relief as she obediently retreated, but truth be told I laughed loud and hard at her before Facebooking the event.
Fortunately no harm came to my beautiful bride outside of a jab to her pride, and Jules will be back next week. Hopefully I will, too.