Famous national landmarks aren't to be messed with, and if you get too close to them, in some cases you can get a ticket.  I'll tell you what one man did at a place I visited this summer, so you don't make the same bonehead mistake.

If you've ever been close to a geyser, you know it's a wonder of nature and hard to explain unless you're a scientist.  And you probably don't want to get too close to it because you can never quite be sure what it's going to do.

A geyser is a rare hot spring that erupts regularly to blow off steam.  The National Park Service says geysers are hot springs with "constrictions in their plumbing, usually near the surface, that prevent water from circulating freely to the surface where heat would escape."  Steam forms at the surface, and it splashes or overflows when it reaches the critical point.  Then the process starts all over again and it gets ready for the next eruption.

The Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone National Park is huge and is one of the most popular spots to visit at the park.  One man shocked a crowd of people recently by going into a restricted area and walking right up to it.  He risked getting burned by the water that reaches 200 degrees, and by the steam that erupts every hour.  He even laid down next to the "gurgling hole" at one point, and some people in the crowd thought he was going to jump.  Rangers hollered at him to get to safety, and he did that after he appeared to urinate on the geyser.  The trespass earned him a ticket.

The geyser in the photo is one that I saw this past July during my visit to Yellowstone. It's a smaller one than Old Faithful and it's not as daunting, but I can assure you at no point did I have the urge to lay down next to it or use it as a toilet.  Sometimes nature just wants to show us what it can do from a distance and it doesn't need us to get in its face.

Geysers are unpredictable.  It was just a week ago that Ear Spring erupted at Yellowstone.  That's another thermal feature on Geyser Hill in the park’s Upper Geyser Basin, and that sent water and rocks flying.  It was the biggest eruption in 60 years at Yellowstone and probably not something any of us would have wanted to have been curled up next to when the boiling steam started to blow.

We don't want anybody messing with the tigers at the Ellen Trout Zoo or the exhibits at the Texas Forestry Museum, so maybe we should stay back from other attractions when we're supposed to.  It can't hurt.

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