monarch pass, continental divide, whits wilderness, bill klenzendorf
Hiking,  Hiking Stories,  My Life

Fooling the Unfoolable

Confession: I love a good prank. Outside of Christmas and the 4th of July, April Fool’s day may be my favorite holiday.

My only hangup is that I am a terrible liar. My face–the one raised eyebrow and turned up corners of my mouth–give it away. So when I am able to fool someone successfully, it’s a major accomplishment. Especially when the person is hard to fool.

And that is why one particular day in Colorado several years ago will go down in History as a crowning moment of my life.

monarch pass, continental divide, whits wilderness, bill klenzendorf

My husband’s father, Bill, (far right) is not easily fooled. A prankster himself, he has a number of card tricks and riddles up his sleeve and he’s always looking for someone to fool.  This is a trait Bill and I share.

On our drive to Colorado that summer, I’d been subject to a few of his riddles. As the end of the day drew near, we reached a narrow pass through the mountains on the border of New Mexico.

As we were driving through the pass, the lead car carrying my niece pulled over at an exit. It turned out, the moment we started up the drive, my niece had had an “incident” the diaper couldn’t “contain” and it needed addressing immediately for the sake of the other passengers.  As we were parked on the side of the road, Bill came over to my car and said, “Did you see that, Whitney?”

“See what?”

“Why, that bear up on the hill over there.”


I replied, “That’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, Bill.”

A few days later, we took a tram to the top of Monarch mountain and were enjoying the views from one of the lookout decks. Those of us with binoculars were scanning the hillsides and valleys for wildlife.  I saw my opportunity, and I seized on it.

“Hey Bill,” I said. He turned.

“I think I see something,” I continued. He came over to where I was and looked at me inquisitively.

“Look down there,” I went on, “I think there’s a black bear wondering over by those trees.” I was practically holding my breath at this point, for if I exhaled, a huge burst of laughter would come out. I was highly pessimistic that this would even work. Bill had literally just tried this on me! And he’s un-foolable!

“Oh yeah?” said Bill, with genuine interest. “Where?” he asked. Wait–he’s actually taking this bait? No way. I looked at his face and there wasn’t the slightest hint of suspicion.

I put my binoculars back up to my face and said, “Yeah, uhh, it’s over there by that bunch of trees, near that clearing,” in the most serious tone I could muster.

I turned away from my binoculars and shot a look around at our group. I wanted to see their faces and know whether anyone actually believed what I was saying, or if they were about to give me away. But they held back. They were too intrigued by the possibility of someone actually stumping Bill and wanted to see how this played out. I looked at Kerry, my sister-in-law. Our eyes met and without skipping a beat, she said,

“Oh I see it too. It’s over there just on the edge of that clearing,”

This moment sealed my love of her forever.

“Ok, ok,” said Bill. “How do I operate this thing?” he said, pointing to the park’s public binoculars, the kind on a metal stand that cost 50 cents to use.

“I think you just put a couple quarters in here,” I said, indicating the slots. My voice shook with excitement and disbelief. I kid you not when i say my heart rate had gone up. Play it cool, Whitney, play it cool. I coached myself.

Bill reached in his pocket and dug around for two quarters.

Not only does he believe me, but he is about to put money on it, I thought.

I want to pause and say what a significant action this was on Bill’s part. Bill is the man from whom my husband gets his thrift and financial wisdom. Not one to waste even 50 cents, Bill is the emblem of financial responsibility. He also raised three boys, who at every turn were begging for quarters for video games. He has learned to keep his quarters in his pockets no matter how convincing the offer. But apparently, I found a weak point.

Bill put the quarters in the slot. A pang of guilt shot through me, but I quickly got over it.

“Where did you say you saw that bear?” he asked, and peered into the binoculars.

I couldn’t keep this deception up any longer. I was about to burst. With a swell of pride such that I had never experienced, I exclaimed,


A few wails of laughter rang out from my brothers and sisters-in-law who had been watching in suspense. Bill laughed and shook his head. “You got me good.” He admitted.

I’m not going to lie, my joy was intense. My satisfaction great. My heart elated. I really wanted to jump up and down but decided I should probably not rub it in.

Except that I have rubbed it in ever since!

Should I feel bad for fooling my father-in-law? Sometimes I feel slightly guilty about that. But, then I get over it.

Bill, you have met your match!


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