Gnarly weddings, arachnid entertainment and gorilla gifts (Heard Around the West) — High Country News – Know the West

Accidents and disasters from around the region.


A wedding is not usually described as “gnarly,but the word seems right for one ceremony on the beautiful shores of Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. Videographer Stanton Giles was filming the wedding reception in August when his camera panned from the groom’s vows of eternal love to a dramatic commotion across the lake: A grizzly bear burst out of the bushes and attacked a moose calf while its mother watched. Giles told Newsweek that the bride and groom were still in the middle of the wedding when the wedding party noticed what was happening, and the festivities were forced to pause until the bear finished killing the calf. “He was there almost as long as it took to kill the calf,said Giles. “As soon as it died and stopped struggling in the water, he pulled it back up into the trees.The shocked guests weren’t sure how to react, Giles said – such things rarely appear in etiquette manuals – although the suggestion was made to turn up the music to “drown the sound of death.”The entire three-minute-and-30-second scene was videotaped for posterity and uploaded to YouTube, where it has been viewed over 400,000 times. Nature is beautiful and terrifying. And an outdoor wedding sometimes gives new meaning to the words ’till death do you part.

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Armando Veve/High Country News

As house pets go, tarantulas are an acquired taste. The creepy crawlies aren’t for everyone, but arachnid fans in Coarsegold, California want everyone to love them as much as they do. The 25th annual Coarsegold Tarantula Awareness Festival, held the last Saturday in October at Coarsegold Historic Village, honors the majestic fuzzies and their contribution to the ecosystem. noted that the celebration will feature pumpkin cheesecake, a costume contest and a tarantula-inspired poem, not to mention the chance to meet, touch and even hold the guest of honor. Organizers of the festival seek to educate the public and de-identify the giant hairy spiders. Another tarantula festival was held in La Junta, Colorado, the first week of October. According to, attendees celebrated the arachnids and their annual mating ritual, which does not include a dating app called “Spinder,but takes place naturally on the 443,000-plus acres of Comanche National Grassland—rather like Burning Man for spiders, with even more legs to dance.

Speaking of feet, a partially human foot still inside its owner’s shoe was found in Yellowstone National Park’s Abyss Pool in August, near the aptly named West Thumb Geyser Basin, ABC News reported. Could this macabre discovery have anything to do with 21 other severed feet that have washed up on Canadian and Washington beaches in recent years? Authorities have been puzzled by these gruesome discoveries since August 20, 2007, when a girl found Adidas sneakers with feet on Jedediah Island near British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Just six days later, the black-and-white Reebok arrived on Gabriola Island, 30 miles away. Since then, other disembodied legs have washed up around the Salish Sea. However, there is an explanation. Forensic scientists engaged in body decomposition, shoe fashion and DNA testing to determine the cause, and no, it’s not aliens. Or a serial killer. Or shark attacks, or overzealous podiatrists. Big Think explained that bodies in the ocean are generally picked apart by sea scavengers and bottom feeders, broken down piece by piece in less than a week. However, feet could rise to the surface with the help of lightweight materials found in recent generation sneakers. Sneakers manufactured after 2000 are made of lighter foam and have air pockets in the sole. Authorities used DNA evidence to identify most of the feet. But the Yellowstone leg remains a mystery, though we can’t help but wonder what else might be lurking in the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Some things are better off unknown.

We’ve long admired the concise but provocative prose of small-town police magazines. Sometimes a thing almost rises to poetry. Persistent readers John and Eileen Eavis sent us one such clipping from the Seward Journal, whose Public Safety Report compiles data from a variety of sources, including police, fire, EMS dispatch and court records. How could you not be intrigued by something like this: “A caller reported on June 19 at 2:09 p.m. that on June 19 at 8:36 a.m., a person in a gorilla suit broke into their yard and left a rooster. Thats “just the facts, i.aam,” as the old Dragnet TV cop would say, but sometimes the facts will do.

Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. her book, Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books, 2019), was nominated for a Washington State Book Award. She resides in northern Idaho near the Columbia River Plateau, Nimiipuu’s homeland.

Tips on Western oddities are welcome and often shared in this column. Write [email protected]or send a letter to the editor.


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