Mason County News
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Don’t Leave Home Without . . . Just Don’t Leave Home
Wednesday, June 17, 2009 • Posted June 17, 2009

I was planning to write my annual vacation destination column last week, what with school being out and all. As you may have noticed, that didn’t happen. Due to circumstances totally within my control, I had to write something else instead. Hopefully you haven’t pulled some bonehead stunt and made vacation plans already, because this column contains some information you definitely need to know before you go off and waste your time on some lame, boring trip, like traveling to Taiwan for the annual butterfly migration.

The Taiwan butterfly migration would be a perfectly adequate vacation thing, for someone who wears polyester and worries about fiber intake, except for the fact the Taiwanese have gone totally whack-a-doodle. And I say that with the utmost respect for the wonderful Taiwanese people, without whom we might end up with a severe shortage of paper fans and useless knick-knacks.

What the Taiwanese have done, in an apparent effort to wrest the coveted ‘Most Environmentally Clueless Nation on the Planet’ prize from Germany (remember the toad highway?), is to close down a highway lane to traffic, lower the speed limit, and put up huge, protective nets along a highway. They did all this to help butterflies cross a particular busy road. The upside to this story is that just about the only people inconvenienced are Taiwanese. And folks who really need to pick up a brochure about Niagara Falls.

Besides, in order to get to Taiwan from here (America) you would have to fly on a very large airplane from a very large airport, which is not a real good idea, according to information recently sent to me by a fellow at Ducks Unlimited. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, plane/bird strikes are twice as common around large airports as they are around small ones. Unfortunately, small airports are also a problem. According to my friend, Dale McCorkle, they can’t keep up with luggage.

So flying is out, which is just as well, since you won’t want to hire out as a dog handler on an African Safari anyway, especially if Brittany Boddington is along. I base this statement on another email I received recently, entitled “Craig Boddington’s Daughter Shoots Dog Handler in Africa.” I have no idea who Craig Boddington is, and I’ve never met his daughter, but when I saw that email, I changed my summer plans chop chop.

Actually, the email title is misleading. It makes it sound like the dog handler, a fellow named (I promise this is what the email said) Punki, was maybe not handling the dogs to Brittany’s satisfaction, and she got a crawful and plugged him. So you would think Punki probably had it coming. But that’s not what happened.

What happened was, the hunting party was in some real tall grass, and a leopard jumped on Punki with extreme nefariousness. Standard operating procedure in a situation like that, in case you’ve never hunted in Africa, is to shoot the dog handler.

Not really. Brittany was actually trying to keep Punki from fertilizing the savannah, and she hit him instead of the leopard. So when you get down to it, you’d probably be safer hunting with Brittany than with some weak sister who might run away instead of standing her ground and trying to save you from a leopard. Besides, Punki is going to fine. Or as fine as he can be, with a name like Punki.

Anyway, with flying pretty much out, you’ll probably be taking a road trip this summer. You may be thinking of visiting one of America’s spectacular and picturesque national parks, so you can commune with nature and join millions of your fellow citizens in littering up the joint. If so, you may want to avoid Yellowstone National Park.

Lynn Coppotelli (really) sent me an email with the heading “Caution: Yellowstone Park may be in danger of ‘swarms.’” Whoa.

Naturally, I figured the swarms must be some kind of insects, such as wasps, or bees, or hornets, or Yankees. In which case I certainly appreciated Lynn’s warning. But, as it turns out, she wasn’t talking about insects. No. She was talking about earthquakes.

Evidently, groups of earthquakes are called swarms. I had no idea. But according to Lynn’s email, Yellowstone National Park has been shaking like a dog trying to pass a peach seed. There have been over 500 earthquakes there since December 2008. This could mean there’s a really big one coming. Or it may not. Nobody knows.

But then, the email also says some fellow has written a book about this earthquake problem, and it’s fiction. So I couldn’t tell if the earthquakes are really happening and the guy made up a story about it, or if he went whole hog and made up the earthquakes, too. The email is vague. My advice is to avoid Yellowstone altogether, just in case. Better safe than shaken.

Probably the smartest thing would be to just stay home this summer. Unless, of course, you live in Yellowstone National Park. Or Taiwan . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who seldom handles dogs. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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