I am not in California but I have had my fill of California drivers. Please don’t get me wrong. I like people from California; I even have friends from California.
But California drivers DO NOT BELONG driving in the country.
I am on what should be a relaxing, pleasant vacation in Yellowstone National Park. It is not my first time visiting Yellowstone. I am back for the third time because it is one of my favorite places in the country. I traveled all the way from the East Coast to be here.
Since I am familiar with Yellowstone, I am familiar with the “rules of the road” as well as “bear jams,” “buffalo jams” and “any other animal or interesting sight jams.” Typically, people are relatively courteous about where they park and how they drive. But not the California drivers we’ve seen in the past 3 days.
There are many RV’s and campers traveling through Yellowstone. Yes, they can be a nuisance since they take up so much room on the roads and in the parking areas. However, most campers are very courteous. They use the many pullouts that the National Park Service has created to avoid traffic back-ups due to hill-climbing large vehicles.
Apparently, this rule of courtesy does not apply to California RV’s and campers. The only vehicles we have had to follow at speeds well under the speed limit, often in caravans of a dozen or more cars, have been vehicles from California. I’m all for taking the time to smell the roses but this time I could have walked ahead, picked a bouquet of roses and gotten back into the car when it caught up to me!
California drivers are the only drivers who have cut us off when pulling out of turnouts. They are the only ones who have not signaled their turns. I have seen California drivers nearly cause numerous rear-end accidents. Some have done this by suddenly jamming on their brakes to see an animal. Others have done it by paying more attention to the sights than the car in front of them. Either way they have caused the kind of adrenaline rush that is not supposed to occur at Yellowstone.
Yesterday we were driving through a herd of buffalo – they were on both sides of the road. There was a convenient pullout that most others had used to stay clear of the buffalo while still having an excellent view. Then a car from California came barreling along. The folks in that car jammed on the brakes at the end of pullout in the center of the road, jumped out of their car and ran up to within 50 yards of the buffalo. You might as well wave a red flag in front of the bison. Then they stopped, took pictures and literally ran back to the car.
It is the kind of moment that gives park rangers nightmares.
When you enter Yellowstone National Park, the ranger gives you a newspaper, which has really good information on how to behave around various animals, as well as information on their temperaments. Either these folks from California cannot read or, more likely, they did not take the time to read and learn about what they were seeing. If they did, they’d have known that buffalo can run as fast as horses, have hair-trigger tempers and fall tends to be mating season for most of the large mammals, making them more irritable than usual.
Today put the exclamation point on my opinion regarding the California drivers. In the morning, on our way into the park, not one but two vehicles from California could not be patient. They decided they had to pass the vehicle in front of them (gratefully we were behind them). That would not seem to be very irresponsible — unless you saw that they were passing on curves! They did just that. Two fairly close calls occurred.
The topper was the young woman from California whom we followed out of the park this evening. She tried to pass the first time but had to pull back into her lane because there was a curve and the road was quite narrow. She passed three other vehicles, one at a time, all on curves. She made a right turn from the left lane. She attempted to pass again on a straightaway — right at a pullout where many cars were stopping to view the elk along the river. Fortunately she was able to pull back into the lane before she hit the car that was several vehicles ahead of her. It was making a left into the pullout and she’d have T-boned the driver’s side of the car. She exited the park about 10 seconds before we did.
I was glad when we no longer had to follow her. I could breathe again!
I will add a final disclaimer, of course. I am definitely speaking about vehicles with California license plates. They could be rental vehicles with drivers from anywhere. But then why would it be only California vehicles making these rude and foolish moves?
Ah well, at least we know which cars to watch out for when we’re on these roads.