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

Mistakes and riots from across the region.


Weddings are not usually described as “wrong,but the word seems appropriate for one celebration on the beautiful shores of Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. Videographer Stanton Giles was filming an August wedding when his camera was pulled from the groom’s vows of eternal love to a commotion in the lake: A grizzly bear came out of the bushes and confronted a moose calf as its mother watched. Giles told Newsweek that the bride and groom were still in the middle of their vows when the wedding party saw what was going on, and the ceremony had to stop until the bear finished killing the calf. “He was there as long as it took to slaughter the calf,Giles said. “Once it died and stopped struggling in the water, he dragged it back to the trees.Shocked guests weren’t sure how to react, Giles said — this sort of thing doesn’t come up often in etiquette guidelines — although a suggestion was made to turn on the music to “mute the sound of death.The entire three-and-a-half-minute performance was caught on video for generations and uploaded to YouTube, where it has been viewed more than 400,000 times. Nature is both beautiful and terrifying. And outdoor weddings sometimes give new meaning to the words “until death do you part”.

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Armando Veve/High Country News

As house pets go, tarantulas are an acquired taste. Creepy crawlies aren’t for everyone, but arachnid enthusiasts in Coarsegold, California, want everyone to love them as much as they do. The 25th annual Coarsegold Tarantula Awareness Festival, held last Saturday in October at Coarsegold Historic Village, honors the giant tarantula and their contributions to the ecosystem. noted that the gala featured pumpkin cheesecake, a costume contest and poems inspired by the tarantula, not to mention a chance to meet, touch and even hold the guests of honor. Festival organizers seek to educate the public and denigrate giant hairy spiders. Another tarantula festival was held in La Junta, Colorado, in the first week of October. According to, attendees celebrated the arachnids with their annual mating ritual, which does not involve a dating app called “Spinder,but it occurs naturally on the 443,000-plus acres of Comanche National Grassland — like Burning Man for spiders, with more legs to dance.

Speaking of feet, part of a human foot, still inside its owner’s shoe, was discovered in Yellowstone National Park’s Pit Pool in August, near the aptly named West Thumb Geyser Basin, ABC News reported. Could this macabre discovery have anything to do with the other 21 severed legs found washed up on the shores of Canada and Washington in recent years? Authorities have been puzzled by the gruesome discovery since August 20, 2007, when a girl found Adidas shoes with feet on Jedediah Island near British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Just six days later, the black and white Reebok turned up on Gabriola Island, 30 miles away. Since then, other disembodied feet have washed up around the Salish Sea. However, there is an explanation. Forensic scientists looked at body decomposition, shoe styles and DNA research to find the cause, and no, it’s not aliens. Or serial killers. Or shark attacks, or overenthusiastic pedicurists. Big Think explained that dead bodies at sea are generally dispersed by marine smugglers and bottom feeders, dismembered in less than a week. The feet, however, can be lifted to the surface with the help of lightweight materials found in the latest generation sneakers. Sneakers produced after 2000 are made from lightweight foam and have air pockets in the soles. Authorities used DNA evidence to identify many of the feet. But Yellowstone’s foot 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 left unknown.

We’ve long enjoyed the short but exciting prose of small-town cops. Occasionally the element rises almost to poetry. Alert readers John and Eileen Eavis sent us a similar piece from Seward Magazine, whose Public Safety Report collects data from a variety of sources, including police, fire, EMS correspondence and court documents. How could one not be interested in something like this: “A caller reported on June 19 at 2:09 p.m. that on June 19 at 8:36 a.m. a man in a gorilla suit broke through a fence and left a rooster.” It is“Just the truth, maam,” as the old Dragnet TV cops would say, but sometimes the truth is enough.

Tiffany Midge is a citizen of the Standing Rock Nation and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. His book, Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books, 2019), was a Washington State Book Award nominee. He lives in north-central Idaho near the Columbia River Plain, Nimiipuu country.

Tips for Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write it down [email protected]or submit a letter to the editor.


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