An Open Letter to Yosemite National Park

for The Last Word on Nothing

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Dear Yosemite:

I am a long-time user of your fantastic park, stunning natural resources, and free public bathrooms. As a recreational rock climber, I have frequented your grounds (and used your clean and welcoming bathrooms) many times over the past 20 years, often dodging payment by coming in late at night and sleeping in odd places.

I am not a bad guy and frankly feel terrible about what I have done in my younger days as a dirtbag climber living on Butterfingers and Trader Joes “no cook” curry packets. So as recompense for all my using your bathrooms without paying entrance fees, I now offer my services in this, your current moment of crisis.

As many outlets have reported, Yosemite is in the middle of an outbreak of the fearsome, sometimes-deadly hantavirus – spread by filthy rodent poop laid down by creatures not civilized enough to use your fine water closet facilities. Obviously, you have a problem – how do you remove the vermin without poisoning (which might kill pets and children) or traps (which in my house never freaking work anyway)? The answer – get ready for it – is the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. Yes, the obnoxious yappy creature in the movie “The Mask” who wasn’t Jim Carey and the only actor in Frasier who didn’t annoy us.

How can a yappy little dog help us eradicate this plague, you say? Tell me, have you ever played fetch with a Jack Russell? I have no idea what the all-time world record is for fetching, but I am willing to bet it’s a Jack Russell for more than a week without stopping for food or water. They are like pathological fetching machines. It’s like when you throw that stupid ball, for the first time in their little high-strung lives, they actually understand their purpose. Like they want nothing in the world but to chase it and bring it back so you can do it again.

In fact this is kind of true. Jack Russells were bred to catch foxes and dig for badgers in the late 1800s. They are like nuclear-powered hyperactive killing machines who, lacking badgers, will destroy anything that runs from them. My wife’s aunt trains these amped-up little critters and always struggles to exercise them enough. A couple times a year she takes them to a friend’s barn in the countryside and just opens the doors.

The result is freaking D-Day for mice. Like coked-up furry missiles, these little psychopaths zip from one rodent to the next, leaving a wake of carnage. You know how cats like to kill mice? Jack Russells need to kill them, like meth addicts need a fix. They try to stop but just go for that one last hit. So here is my solution. Before winter, invite the JRTCA for a free week in the Valley to see the fall colors. Have them stay in Curry Village, where most of the hantavirus cases happened. And tell them to bring their best dogs.


Erik Vance

PS: A couple notes of warning. This is not a perfect plan. You will lose some chipmunks and squirrels, no question. But those little bastards have been getting cheeky for years, stealing Corn Nuts and boosting cars. You will also surely lose one or two terriers to coyotes and bears who don’t like yappy little dogs. But with war comes casualties. Lastly, as mentioned, Jack Russells are nuclear powered and have no need to eat what they kill. So you will need to keep the mouse corpses from spreading other disease. For that, I have this great idea involving trained vultures…