What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Harry Potter and the Grizzly Bear Paparazzi August 13, 2014

Living in Denali National Park in Alaska, you end up riding a lot of buses. Little shuttle buses take you to work, if you’re lucky. I usually just walk. More shuttle buses take you to the park where you can get on a bigger bus. Going to a restaurant? Get on this bus. It’s like New York City, but everything is above ground and on an even more inconvenient schedule.

Denali is a national park roughly the size of the state of New Hampshire. There is only one road going in or out of the park. It’s ninety-two miles long and ends in a tiny mining town. People flock from all over the world to get onto the buses and ride them into the park. Some people go fifteen miles. Some go all the way. And the road is beautiful. This week, I went in ninety miles and saw fourteen grizzly bears. Some of them were so close I would have been eaten if I hadn’t been in a bus.

When there’s an animal sighting, the bus pulls over and everyone snaps away with their cameras. And as I was sitting there watching the bear eating berries while a busload of people took its picture, I realized that we were the wildlife paparazzi. The bear just wanted to eat, and now its picture was going to be plastered all over social media like this:


And then I wondered. If we put Daniel Radcliffe on a bus into the park, would people take pictures of him or of the bear? Or of him taking pictures of the bear? The bus can’t move if people are standing to take pictures, so would the bus even get to leave the station if people refused to sit because they wanted their picture with Daniel Radcliffe? Or would there be a contest? Mt McKinley, the highest mountain in North America and one of Denali’s primary draws, is only visible thirty percent of the time. So, would it be like ten points for Daniel Radcliffe in front of McKinley? Fifty points if he’s standing with a bear in front of the mountain?

I mean really, Daniel Radcliffe would probably have to reserve a bus just for him and his posse and would probably never be able to show his face at any of the pee stops or everyone would try to swarm onto his bus. But it is interesting to think. If it were between him and a grizzly bear, which way would the cameras turn?


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