Travels with the Bear: Watching Germans Fight

A few years ago, I was hiking in Arches National Park.  After several hours of trudging through the desert, I had finally arrived at my destination, and I wanted to stop and admire the view.

Another middle-aged couple happened to be there:  a woman posing, while her husband snapped photos.  They appeared to be German. (Europeans really love the American Southwest, a big chunk of the tourists in Utah are either French or German).

As I walked to admire the view, I heard the man abruptly tell me in his thick accent:

“Pleez do not valk there, ve are taking peek-chahs.”

The dude was basically monopolizing the entire scenic lookout,  and apparently no one was allowed to walk there until he was done taking photos.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind, and would gladly have walked around…IF someone would have asked me nicely.  But Herr Gunther didn’t so much as ask me, but ORDERED ME.

What a dink, I thought.  Oh well…

Then another couple came by, somewhat younger, in their 30’s.

“Pleez do not valk there….”, Gunther ordered, again.

At which, the younger gentleman (let’s call him Hans) answered back, in the same German accent:

“Vell, you sir, can GO TO HELL!”

I was shocked, but delighted to hear this.  (I wish I had had the fortitude to tell Gunther off!)

“Vell, I am taking peek-chahs, you do not stand in front of my photos”, Gunther answered.

“You do not OWN zee National Park! Ziss is Public Land!”, Hans man replied.   Then he pointed to me:

“…undt you do NOT tell ziss Gentleman vere he can valk and vere he can’t valk, he has as much right to be here as YOU DO!”.

“Yah, but you do not interput my photos!”

“Vell, then you WAIT, until other people have gone!”

This exchange went on for several minutes, and kept escalating.  (I suspect NATO was soon going to declare DEF-CON IV. )

Finally, Gunther’s beady little eyes bulged with rage, and he started to yell “You….F*#$ OFF”

“No…YOU F@#% OFF!”

At this point, I think the two men were going to come to blows.  The women stood by, alarmed.

I think young Hans would have easily taken down Gunther, and Gunther knew this.

Puffing his cheeks, he sarcastically yelled out “Yah…Yah…Ziss is very NICE.  VERY GOOT! YAH!”, and stomped off with rage.

(Looking back, I wonder why they argued in English..was this for my benefit, perhaps?)

Anyway, after the dust settled, Hans apologized to me.

He said he was sorry I had to see that, but he was sick and tired of seeing his fellow countrymen boss around other tourists like they owned the place.  People like Gunther helped perpetuate the bad German stereotype, he explained.  We’re not all like that, most of us are nice.

And he was.   We ended up chatting for a good 45 minutes, long after Gunther had stormed off.  These were kind folks.  I spoke mostly with Hans, as his girlfriend’s English wasn’t very good.

Then it was time for my mandatory Bear Photo.  I took Junior out the knapsack, and posed him in front of the sandstone arch, and took a photo.


Of course, I had to explain my whole Bear-Photo ritual to these strangers.  Hans thought this was awesome!  He and his girlfriend laughed and smiled.  (Junior Bear often has this affect on people).

Looking at me, she then shyly whispered something into Hans’ ear.

“My girlfriend vants to know if she can also have a peek-chah vit the BEAH!”

“Of course!”   I agreed.

And she seemed genuinely delighted as she posed with Junior.   I had made her day.

More shy whispering, and Hans informed me that now she ALSO wanted to get a Bear of her own.

(Yes!   Looks like I’ve made another convert!)

Then it was time to part our ways, and we said goodbye.

All in all, it was a good afternoon.  I made some temporary friends, had a great hike, and somewhere in a photo album thousand of miles across the Atlantic, Junior’s posing with a nice blonde woman.

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16 Comments on “Travels with the Bear: Watching Germans Fight”

  1. Mike Goad Says:

    Last year, when we had hiked to Delicate Arch, I managed to get one photo without any people in it. I wanted to get another angle, but three guys went right up to one base of the arch and two of them commenced to ham it while the other one took pictures — and they didn’t leave so that others could get pictures. We waited longer than we normally would have, but it was a long hike back to the parking lot and it was getting late.

    It was rather disappointing, but the hike was worth it and I did get one good photo.

  2. Friar Says:

    @Hi Mike

    I hear ya. Delicate Arch is always deceiving. The photos often show it deserted..out in the middle of nowhere. What they DON’T show you are the 200 people all around it.

    On this same trip, I was at Delicate Arch at sunset. I met a serious photographer (Who worked for National Geographic). He had a $5000 digital camera, and he let me take a few photos with it, which he emailed to me afterwards. That was awesome!

  3. veredd Says:

    I love it when you’re not politically correct.

    The bear makes me smile. 🙂

  4. Friar Says:


    Heh heh. Thanks. I believe in equal-opportunity political incorrectness.

    I try to make fun of everyone equally…regardless of who they are or where they came from! 😉

  5. Ulla Hennig Says:

    I am glad you had at last a nice experience with two of my fellow countrymen. I always feel a bit awkward when people meet not-so-nice Germans…

  6. Betsy Says:

    Okay, am I the only idiot who can’t see the bear in the pic? If it’s an inside joke would someone hit me with a clue-bat?

  7. Friar Says:


    Yeah, the 2nd couple were some of the nicest folks I met during my trip. I’ve only encountered a small minority of rude tourists.

    I admit, though, the entire scene was quite entertaining! 😀


    Oh, the Bear IS there…if people still can’t find him, I’ll reveal where he’s hiding at the end of the day.

  8. Steph Says:

    Oh my God, I don’t know if this would have been as funny without the accent written in. I feel like saying, Do me, do me! But I have the same accent as you, the one that’s actually not an accent—you know the one. LOL!

    What a strange situation to be in. I abhor being a witness to confrontation. It freaks me out.

    Betsy, he’s on the driftwood…

  9. Steph Says:

    Whoops, shit! Sorry, Friar! I didn’t see that you weren’t going to tell!!


  10. Friar Says:


    Well, I liked the story, because it ended on a good note, with the guys’ girlfriend posing with Junior, and wanting to get a bear on her own.

    I don’t mind long as I’m not involved in it.

    Actually, a few years earlier, I had encountered an even BETTER rude tourist story, again, in Utah. In the same region. With ten times more conflict!

    It’s pretty funny, but some people might not get the humor, so I probably won’t ever post it.

    PS. Oh, and THANKS for telling everyone where the bear is! 😮

  11. LOL so my first reaction was ‘why on earth are they yelling at each other in English?’ Maybe it was for your benefit. Too funny.

  12. Friar Says:


    Yeah, I never could figure that out.

    It was like watching one of those cheesy WWII movies from the 1960’s, where they portrayed the Germans speaking to each other in bad English.

  13. Kelly Says:


    What’s really funny (and sad) is that they could swear at each other in English. Too many Hollywood movies go to Europe, I suppose. I’m relatively fluent in Spanish, but I couldn’t swear at you worth a hill of beans.

    Another gorgeous photo where the enormity of Mother Nature looks as though it has completely overwhelmed Junior. Don’t you let that poor bear have any naps? He looks exhausted!



  14. Friar Says:


    No, the Bear’s FINE. He sits’ in the damned knapsack the whole time, getting a nice piggy-back ride while I sweat and grunt for hours on end.

    The only thing he has to do when we get their is pose for 2 minutes.

    Must be nice. Sometimes, I wish he could carry ME back to the parking lot!

  15. Marelisa Says:

    Hi Friar: I agree that a lot has to do with how people ask. The other day I parked at the pharmacy and as I got out of my car an irate twenty-something girl stormed toward me and demanded that I park somewhere else because I had taken her spot. When I saw her car I realized that indeed she was going to back into the spot that I had taken. If she had approached me nicely I would have let her have the parking spot, but since she was so rude I told her to go park somewhere else. She then called me an idiot and I answered, “The idiot is the one who wasn’t able to park”.

    I don’t know the back story on Junior, do you take him wherever you travel and get photos of him in different places? That’s a cool idea. And the photograph is beautiful.

  16. Friar Says:


    …heh heh. A “irate twenty-something”. That’s the PERFECT age for blowing up and acting like an idiot!

    As for Junior Bear…yes, he goes with me everywhere. If you go back into my archives, and search “Travels with the Bear”, there are lots of posts about him.

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