"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yellowstone In My Rearview Mirror

I went on my usual Monday morning Lamar Valley trip. I didn't have much luck spotting anything other than elk (which had moved into 'downtown' Mammoth) and bison. I did see a coyote in the distance by Pebble Creek. But a Lamar trip would not be complete without the snap of the shutter so I took this picture of Soda Butte.

Upon returning to Mammoth I talked to my son, Adam, who said that the baby was being induced and that mama-to-be was to go to the hospital tonight. And here I thought that she would probably go a week past her due date! At 12:15 this afternoon I made a mad dash to the store and made sure that my shifts could be covered and at 1:00 I was on my way back to Minnesota. The last thing I saw on my way out of Yellowstone was a ram.

The roads were clear until I hit Forsyth. There had been snow earlier in the day, along with freezing rain so the left lane was snowy and slick. It was slow going in the right lane. By Glendive the wind started whip up and blow snow across the road and it was near here that I saw a semi in the median. By Dickinson, North Dakota the wind was still blowing but there was also snow falling. With 8 hours behind the wheel I decided it was a good time to pull into a hotel and start off again tomorrow.

Driving gives me time to think and reflect. I remembered my favorite Yellowstone story, and thought I would share it. Years ago while driving in Yellowstone my middle son, Benjamin, was in the backseat of the car and roared out a belch. Normally I would frown on this but we had been in the car a long time and I was a bit slap happy and I laughed. Big Mistake! That one laugh became, to him, an invite to continue belching. No amount of "Don't make me come back there!" could get him to stop. In an effort to get him to stop I decided to tell him that burping in national parks was illegal because it depletes the ozone layer over the parks. And to punctuate this I found a park ranger who was eager to play along in my anti-burping story. The park ranger actually told Benjamin: "Yes, it is illegal to burp in national parks." Which was great........until he added: "Unless you can burp cool words like Chevrolet!" Guess what I got to hear for the rest of the trip.

And now my burping son is one of only 45 applicants accepted at the University of Minnesota, Rochester for pre-med that is taught in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic. He is a future neurosurgeon and his manners have been much improved.