My Favorite Touron (*) Moments

(*) Definition:

Tou*ron: noun. A tourist moron.

Video-Taping Life it Instead of Living It.
Imagine a beautiful fairyland of orange-red pillars of sandstone, colored so brightly that the rocks seem to glow from within.

That’s Bryce Canyon National Park, in Utah.

I was standing on the edge of the canyon, taking in all of nature’s glory, just before taking the path downwards to hike into this maze of wonders.

Except there was a traffic jam on the hiking trail.  A bunch of Japanese tourists were walking single file, with their cameras all clicking away.

The best was the Touron woman in front of me, who was blocking my way, walking ahead at 1 m.p.h. while she videotaped her hike.

Apparently it was more important for this boson to view Bryce Canyon through a  1-inch view-finder,  than to put the F$%*&ing video camera down and just LOOK at the scenery in real-time.

Eventually, I managed to squeeze by her.

Though I congratulate myself for not pushing her over the cliff as I did so.

***************************************************

Just Ignore the Mountain
Normally, I hate Touron buses and avoid them like the plague.  But in this case, I had no choice.

Since they don’t permit cars past a certain point in Denali National Park, the only way see some of the sights is to book a space on the Touron Bus.

And you have to get there early, because the bus fills up quickly.

But this day was worth it.  The weather was exceptionally clear and Mount McKinley was perfectly visible.

The bus driver told us this was rare:  two-thirds of the time, Mckinley is covered in clouds.  Today was the best day he’d seen all summer.  We had truly lucked out.

We pulled over on the side of the road at a lookout, and got out of the bus to look at one of the most awe-inspiring sights I had ever seen.

Mt. McKinley (or Denali) was a white icy pyramid-castle thrusting itself 18,000 vertical feet upwards into a deep azure blue sky.  I was looking at the roof of North America and felt I could almost touch it.

It was so beautiful, I almost wanted to cry.

Did I say we got out of the bus?  Well..MOST of us did.

There was this 80 year old Touron Bat who couldn’t be bothered.

Her elderly son tried to plead for her to come out and take a look, but she couldn’t and wouldn’t.

While the rest of us were outside, Ooohing and Aaahing, she just sat there inside the bus.   I don’t know if she even looked out the window.

Sigh.

What a waste of a bus seat.

What a waste of DNA, for that matter.

Promise me something, folks.

If I ever become that old and jaded, please shoot me.

***************************************************

Shittiest.   Hiker.   Ever.
There are several ways you can get to the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.

If you’re ambitious, you can hike up the 4000 vertical feet to get there.

Or you can take the toll-road to the summit in the comfort of your air-conditioned car.

Or, if you’re too wussy to even DRIVE, you can even take the Touron Bus.

On top (next to the cafeteria/museum/post office complex), there’s 5-foot pile of rocks with a signpost.

It indicates the summit elevation of 6,288 feet above sea level, the highest point in the North East.

Almost everyone there (including myself) walked up to top of those rocks.

After all, I HAD to touch the summit. (Especially, as I’d just finished a grueling four hike, climbing  up steep ravines and hopping from boulder to boulder to get there).

But this was too much for one Touron in flip-flops (who obviously drove to the top).

She refused to go up the tiny rock pile.  She told her husband it was “too much”.  She might sprain an ankle or something.

Oh boy.   If she had been alive in 1803, I bet you Lewis and Clark would have just SNATCHED her up for their expedition, wouldn’t have they?

***************************************************

Whatever you do, don’t hurt Bambi
This happened when I was returning from a camping trip with a group of fellow students.  A girl from our group insisted on stopping by a “Trading Post” by the side of the road.

This place smelled “Shitty Touron Trap” all over.

Why?  Because:

a) there was a 10-foot fake Grizzly Bear out front (This was Eastern Ontario, there wasn’t a grizzly within 2500 miles.)

b)  any place that calls itself a “Trading Post” is, by default,  a Shitty Touron trap.

(Come on…do they actually TRADE at these Trading Posts?)

“I’ll buy the Indian teepee made in China, in exchange for these beaver pelts”

(I somehow doubt these places work on a barter system, but I digress here).

Anyway, our friend was visiting from the UK, she didn’t know any better, so we humored her and all went into the store.

The merchandise was the typical ceramic birchbark Touron crap.   Then I saw a string of wolf pelts hanging on the wall.

I commented to my friend that it’s a shame to kill wild animals like this, just to be sold as novelty items for the tourists.

Well, the store owner (a scowling 70-year-old Polyester Lady) didn’t like hearing me say this.

Oh, yeah?” she said.  “Well…these vicious animals attack and kill DEER…have you ever heard the sound a poor deer makes when it’s being mauled by wolves?…it’s HORRIBLE!

I stood flabbergasted, listening to this idiot logic.

I was so mad, I starter to sputter, getting ready to give a piece of my mind to Jane F*cking Goodall here:

Uhh….Oh my God…….theyr’e CARNIVORES…! ….This…this is what wolves DO…I can’t believe you’re saying this…you (sputter) ignorant…#$%&…what did you EXPECT they’d eat….You STUPID OLD B...”

Suddenly, my friend, seeing I was about to pop a gasket,  grabbed me, and said “Okay, Friar, calm down…lets go.

He had whisked me out of store, before I made a scene.   He was chuckling too…I think he regretted not letting me blow up.

That was almost 20 years ago.  The Trading Post is still there, but I don’t’ think I’ve been in there since.

If it’s any consolation, Grandam Wolf-Killer is probably gone by now.  (Eaten by wolves, perhaps?) 🙂

***************************************************

Not just making a carbon footprint, but doing it with Size 16 shoes.
I forgot to mention there’s another way to get up Mt. Washington.

You can also take the Cog Railway.    This is a steam train (circa 1890 technology) that still runs up the mountain, pulling up a few dozen tourists at a time.

What a freaking ABOMINATION.

Oh, come on, Friar.  What’s wrong with a train, you might ask?

Nothing.

Not if you enjoy your peaceful alpine moments being interrupted by a steam whistle every 20 minutes, from an infernal machine that belches clouds of black coal smoke into the clean moutain air.

Not only that, but the smoke spreads out for miles into the Mt. Washington Valley, and obscures half the view you had spent 4 hours hiking to look at.

All this,  just for the benefit of a few Tourons who are too stupid to hike, drive, or take the Touron Bus to the top of the mountain.

Al Gore must be weeping in his mansion, at this moment.

***************************************************

Hank Hill goes Canoe Camping

Algonquin Park in Eastern Ontario is one of the best canoe-camping areas in North America.

There are hundreds of miles of organized canoe routes and portages, and people come from the world all over to camp there.

When camping in the Interior, you pretty much have to carry in everything yourself.   Mostly, you pack essentials like food, clothing and the tent.

But sometimes, it’s fun to make the extra effort and bring along a “luxury” item.

Like a few extra cans of beer.   Maybe a hammock.  Or a folding lawn chair.

I’ve brought my share of stupid things into the park.  We all have.

The STUPIDEST thing I saw, though, were the two idiots with a full-sized BBQ in their canoe (including the propane tank).

The BBQ towered over their head while they paddled in sitting positions.   I suspect their center or gravity was several feet above the water.

As I paddled by, I commented “I guess you’re not going to be portaging the BBQ, eh?

Uhhh…you guessed right“, they answered.

Dudes.  You’re camping in the Interiour (i.e. the forest).    Where there’s dead brush and dry kindling ALL AROUND YOU.

And even if you didn’t want to make a campfire, there is such a thing as a Coleman Stove.

WTF do you need to bring a PROPANE BARBECUE for?

Because they’re TOURONS…that’s why!!!.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: The Outdoor Friar

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

33 Comments on “My Favorite Touron (*) Moments”

  1. Karen JL Says:

    Hmm…Mike, eh? 😉

    Good stuff Friar. Those photos take my breath away!

    When we were in Hawaii, we stopped at this gorgeous spot with huge waves crashing against this massive rocky area. All the Tourons go to the *very* edge (with their backs to said edge) as their buddy takes their picture. We kept saying to ourselves, “Yeah, one more step Doris!”

    And others climbed right down to the wet, slippery rock’s edges in their damn flip-flops. One more step and they’d be swept away and smashed against the gigantic rocks. But they’re all, “Dum-dee-dum…lookie here!”

    I alway like to joke about Tourons who visit one city in Canada then buy a sweatshirt that says ‘CANADA’. Not Vancouver, not Ottawa, not Montreal…CANADA! Really? You saw *all* of Canada? It’s like buying a shirt that says ‘EUROPE’. 🙂


  2. “Tourons” LOL. Love it, Friar. You should start your own dictionary. Hikers in flip-flops, ballerina flats, clogs, and anything other than sneakers or hiking boots SLAY me. We encountered a few on these tourons while hiking Smugglers Notch in Vermont … I wanted to trip them.

  3. Friar Says:

    @Karen

    Hmm..that on slipped out without me even realizing it! Shhhh…don’t tell anyone. 🙂

    Flip flops is the Official Footware of the Touron Olympics.

    What I also dont’ get is the tourists that you see in Banff. With all the beautiful mountain scenery, and they take close-up photos of just themselves, in front of an ugly brick wall or a bus. It might as well be downtown Tokyo, for all that matters. (Why not step 5 feet aside, and have snow-capped peaks in the background?).

    Must be a cultural thing…:-)

    @Rebecca
    I must admit, I didn’t invent the word. I heard it from a nameless Park Ranger in Banff I met 25 years ago…the word has stuck with me ever since.

    Heh. Hiking in clogs in Smugglers. I know someone who did that once. But in their defence, they hadn’t planned on going hiking. But they were in a group that decided at the last minute. It was either go along, or be left behind.

    They made it to the top, though!


  4. Friar: Good for them! That’s not an easy hike (even in hiking boots!), but it sure is beautiful. We’re hoping to head back up later this month.

  5. Friar Says:

    @Rebecca

    I love the Green Moutains and the Adirondacks.

    I’ve been hoping to spend a weekend in Lake Placid (hopefully doing a bit of hiking, depends on my bum knee).

    But for crying out loud, it’s been rain and showers almost EVERY single weekend this summer. I’m almost ready to give up.

    If (God Forbid) we have 48 consecutive hours with NO RAIN, I might consider the trip.

  6. Brett Legree Says:

    LOL, them’s fightin’ words… not that I’d wear flip-flops (too loose), but I’ll bet my funky toe shoes against any hiking boots, any time, anywhere… 😉

  7. Friar Says:

    @Brett

    I’ve done hikes too, in crappy footwear. Just so long as people are aware what they’re in for…

    If you have NO CLUE, though, then you’re a Touron (like expecting the hiking trail to be paved and wheelchair accessible).

    Yes, your Spiderman Barefoot shoes can probably really stick to the rocks and ravines!

  8. Karen JL Says:

    @ Friar

    It’s in ‘the vault’.

    How *is* Mike these days anyway? Short, bald, chubby guy, right? Hates the outdoors and wouldn’t eat a fish if you paid him, right? Oh yeah…good ‘ol Mike. 😉

  9. Brett Legree Says:

    @Friar,

    I remember going on an impromptu hike well over 10 years ago (almost 15, actually) and the shoes I had were *NOT* appropriate. So I took off my shoes and socks. My feet thanked me later.

    God (or if you prefer, insert deity of choice) made ’em, I walk on ’em.

  10. Friar Says:

    @Karen

    Well, “Mike” isn’t bald. And he’s average (not short). 😉

    He’s probably a vegetarian, doesn’t like labelling people, and loves the Cirque de Soleil, and the movie “Sideways”.

  11. Friar Says:

    @Brett

    I’ve done so many hikes in just sneakers. If it’s warm and dry, my Reeboks worked just fine for me. You don’t need a $200 pair of boots from MEC to hike.

    Though when it’s ankle-deep mud, sharp pointy rocks, or hypothermia weather, that’s where I draw the line, barefoot isn’t as much fun!


  12. Cartoon dictionary of tourons.

    Didn’t Disney do shorts of Goofy in all kinds of guises? Here we have the…

    You could do it with the Tourons. 🙂

    Beautiful photos BTW.

  13. Karen JL Says:

    @ Friar

    And isn’t he in love with a woman named Claire?

    (and uh…*takes foot out of mouth*…not that there’s anything *wrong* with bald…bald rocks!…)

  14. Friar Says:

    @Karen JL

    Well, dunno about the other guy. But the Friar is not bald. (I have a bit of thinning on top, but luckily, I still have my hair).

    As for Claire, I think there is now a conspiracy on the Blogosphere, trying to get me to marry her. (I’m sorry I ever mentionned her!) 🙂

    @Janice
    Hahah. I remember those Goofy Cartoons. (Still can’t figure out how much of a dog he is, and how much human). 😉

    Thanks for the compliment about the photos. (Law of averages…if you take enough, a few will turn out well).

  15. Brett Legree Says:

    @Friar,

    That’s why the smart cavemen didn’t live where we live!

  16. Karen JL Says:

    @ Friar

    No, not Friar…it’s ‘MIKE’ who is in love with her and is (maybe) bald and likes Cirque…and….oh, never mind…my brain is starting to hurt. 🙂

    I don’t wish Claire upon you. Just so we’re clear. 😉

  17. Friar Says:

    @Brett
    We don’t have that many caves, either.

    Except for one or two within 100 miles..seriously….have you EVER seen caves here like they show in the movies?

    @Karen JL

    My brain hurts. too.

    In the mean time, I’ll join Alfalfa in his “He-Man Woman Hater’s Club” until someone nice comes along. 🙂

  18. Nathan Egelhof Says:

    Haha, I loved this post, Friar! Tourons — what a great name, and fitting, too! I definitely feel your frustration about Mt. McKinley. My mother recently took a trip there and all she could see was a horde of clouds; so I can empathize with your wonder at the old lady not getting out to look at a cloudless McKinley! I would have dragged her kicking and screaming if I had been her son. Great post!

  19. Friar Says:

    @Nathan

    AHAHAHAH! Yeah…someone definitely SHOULD have dragged that old lady out, kicking and screaming! 🙂

    “Listen, Gramma, people drive 6000 miles to get here…other people didnt’ get a space on the bus because of you….so you’re going to GET OUT..and see the mountain….whether you LIKE IT or NOT”


  20. Heheh, I knew what Touron meant as soon as I saw it. You know where they’re the worst? Disneyland. The stories I could tell (I used to go there a lot as a kid)! My dad once brought the big old propane barbecue on vacation but in all fairness, we weren’t going to the wilderness, just a lakeside cabin.

  21. Friar Says:

    @Melissa

    No, this was a regular Propane BBQ (like you’d have in your back yard), jammed into the canoe. DUHHH. 🙂

    I’ve yet to see DisneyLand…(haven’t been to Florida yet). I can just picture it swarming with people in the winter!


  22. Touron Traps: I don’t get them. I avoid them at all costs. Give me a backroads map, a local pub in the middle of nowhere, and I’m there. I spent 14 glorious days in Ireland on roads the sheep don’t even know about. I decided to breakdown and visit the Mountains of Mourne, because I grew up on Percy French poetry. I was HORRIFIED!!!! By the time I got past the tour buses, and touron vendors, to actually view the cliffs, I honestly thought I would see Mickey Mouse carved into the rock.

    A former friend of mine plans her entire vacations around every single touron trap going! Notice I said *former* friend.

  23. Karen Swim Says:

    Making list, “don’t do anything stupid when traveling or it could end up in blog post.” Okay, check. This was quite funny. It comes at a time when I was thinking I should try to see my world like a tourist, except I realized I am kind of a tourist here so it won’t work. 🙂

  24. Friar Says:

    @Urban Panther

    I’m with you. My idea of the best vacation is to get OFF the beaten path, away from all the crowds. Things like European Group Tours make me cringe.

    I used to live in Hamilton, and everyone who visite me wanted to see Niagara Falls. Which is fun for about 4 minutes, after which it’s Ticky-Tacky Touristy.

    Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful places in the States (i.e. National Parks) are also Touron Magnets. The good thing, though, is that 99% of everyone visits the park by car. The secret is to go on a short hike (on foot), off the main road. People are too lazy to walk, and you quickly get rid of all the Yahoos.

    @Karen
    Nothing stopping anyone from being a Touron if they want! (There’s safety in numbers!).

    The only consequences are getting blisters (from hiking in flip-flops), and then getting blogged about by Smart-Ass Friars! 🙂

  25. Brett Legree Says:

    @Friar (and Urban Panther, by way of Friar’s comment),

    I admit, that’s what I liked about New Zealand. There were not a lot of moaning tourists there, and when you saw them, it was super easy to get away. Most of them couldn’t survive the plane flight there (20+ hours from North America), and those that did were not likely to stray far from the 5 star hotels.

    Nope, a 2 hour car ride and you were not likely to see them at all.

    As long as you avoided the tour buses… 🙂

  26. Friar Says:

    @Brett

    Tourons HATE the slightest bit of discomfort or effort. As long as there’s work involved in getting to a location, they’ll avoid it like the plague.

    That’s the secret in getting away from them.

  27. Steph Says:

    That was one regret I had at Algonquin: that we went when everyone else went. I prefer to go when the park is much less busy. I have to admit, the nights were very quiet and most were respectful of everyone else’s time away from home, but I just despise being surrounded by people all the time.

    PS. I didn’t see any touron interior campers. The ones I met at Opeongo were all “with it”: totally filthy, packed lightly, and not at all concerned with comfort.

    Brett: You make NZ sound more appealing every time. I’ve always wanted to visit. Do you think the LOTR tourists have died down yet?

  28. Brett Legree Says:

    Steph,

    When you go (because I think you will go), you will not believe it. The beauty is simply incredible. I’ve heard others compare it to the Rocky Mountains in many ways (which I’ve not seen in person, strange as it may sound – I can drive to BC, but not NZ, and figure a BC trip will be a family trip in the van!) – so maybe it is like that.

    We didn’t see many folks in search of Hobbits when we were there. Let me tell you though, we drove through the part where they filmed the Hobbiton scenes. I always thought that it couldn’t possibly be that green there, perhaps the film was “enhanced”. It actually was that green – in the middle of their winter! Not sure what it would look like in summer…

    -Brett

  29. Friar Says:

    @Steph
    Algonquin is beautiful, I’ve camped there lots. But it’s really changed in the last 20 years. Used to be, you’d buy a camp permit, and you could go anywhere in the park you wanted.

    Now you have to specify WHAT lake and WHAT day you’ll be on that lake. Kinda takes away from the Wilderness experience, a bit.

    My idea of True Wilderness is that at night, you should be able to scream as loud as you want. If no one tells you to Shut the F**k up, you know it’s the Real Bush.

    Regardless of the crowds, Algonquin is still wonderful.

    If you want to spend an extra 2-4 hours driving, you should try the north access of the park (Bisset Creek, Brent Road, Kiosk). I’ve been there. Much less crowded than the Highway 60 Corridor.

  30. Friar Says:

    @Brett

    Everyone in my entire family (plus in-law siblings) have been to NZ, except me. They say the same thing…NZ is very similar to British Columbia.

    If that’s the case, then it’s fantastic. Worth the drive (you can get there in about 5-6 days…if you kids don’t kill each other in the process). (Speaking from experience…I’ve had long road trips with my brother and sister! ) 😉


  31. […] to see these places off-season.  You get to appreciate the seashore as it is…without the Touron […]

  32. Paul Says:

    Hey nice man I’ve wanted to see Denali for my whole life now (which isnt much Im only 15 :P) and I keep looking at the webcams regularly. I bet you anything Im gonna break down and cry like a wuss once I do see its shining peak in the distance … well Good luck on your next trips 🙂

  33. Friar Says:

    @Paul

    Oh, you wouldn’t be a wuss if you broke down. The mountains are so majestic and awe-inspiring, they’re known to have that effect on people.

    Hope you get to visit Alaska (or the Yukon) sooner than later. Actually, when I visited, there were tons of students up there, working summer jobs. Maybe you’ll be able to find work up there, one of these summers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: