Since the shutdown of 17% of the government began last week, this president has done his best to make sure the average voters feel his wrath. There have been reports of unnecessary closures of National Parks and privately funded businesses on federal land, but this story of park rangers intimidating a group of seniors on a trip to Yellowstone Park is disgusting beyond the pale.
Pat Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1.
In Pat's case, her tour group ( senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States) were imprisoned in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard. Their crime, picking the wrong time to go on vacation.
It started as soon as they entered the park.
The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.
When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.
“We’ve become a country of fear, guns and control,” said Vaillancourt, who grew up in Lawrence. “It was like they brought out the armed forces. Nobody was saying, ‘we’re sorry,’ it was all like — ” as she clenched her fist and banged it against her forearm.
Vaillancourt took part in a nine-day tour of western parks and sites along with about four dozen senior citizen tourists. One of the highlights of the tour was to be Yellowstone, where they arrived just as the shutdown went into effect.
The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.
“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.
The seniors quickly filed back onboard and the bus went to the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s premier lodge located adjacent to the park’s most famous site, Old Faithful geyser. That was as close as they could get to the famous site — barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door.
“They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside,” she said. “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”Gee if the seniors were armed members of al Qaeda, at least Obama would try to negotiate with them.
On their 2.5-hour journey out of Yellowstone the bus was to stop at a dude-ranch in in the park so the seniors could use the ranch's pleasant full service bathroom facilities. But the dude ranch had been warned that its license to operate would be revoked if it allowed the bus to stop. So the bus continued on to Livingston, Mont., a gateway city to the park.
Yes this President who cares about seniors wouldn't even let them stop and go to the bathroom. If that happened at Gitmo he would call it torture and apologize to the Muslim world.
But this is only travelers who went to Yellowstone to enjoy the park which is their property not that of the president. The lodge and the dude ranch are private businesses.
Sadly instead of honoring the seniors, these park rangers made their lives miserable, all under the orders of a childish President throwing a temper tantrum.