Laura Krantz, Weekend Edition
Producer Laura Krantz collects sound in Yellowstone's Lower Geyser Basin.Liane Hansen
I grew up in Idaho, with Yellowstone pretty much in my backyard. So you might think that seeing Old Faithful is no big deal for me, or that coming across a bison in the road is nothing new. But in reality? I get as excited as the next guy. The sheer, rugged beauty of this place hits me every time I come home (which isn't often enough). While Liane and I were prepping for an interview in Gardiner, Montana, the sun was just burning off the clouds on Electric Peak. It took my breath away. And our grizzly bear sighting? I was ecstatic -- I can't remember the last time I saw a grizzly in the park.
Old Faithful, Canyon Village, Gardiner -- most of the places that Liane and I went to for our Yellowstone series were places I'd visited before. The Old Faithful Inn always held a special fascination for me -- every since I was little, I've always wanted to climb its rickety wooden stairs into the rafters. In producing this series, I finally got my wish. Not only did I get to go to the uppermost floors of the Inn, but I got to check out the view from the roof. Just try and tell me that your job is better than mine. (And thank you, NPR, for helping me realize a childhood dream...)
But animal sightings and Old Faithful aside, the best part of this trip was all that I learned. Yellowstone's been a part of my life for a long time. I remember the summer of the 1988 fires -- it was hot and dry. The sky glowed an eerie orange for months and the smell of smoke filled the air. My family and I took snow cats into the park that winter -- everywhere, blackened trees stood in stark contrast to the white snow. But I never knew all that much about what caused the fires or the fire history of the park. I didn't know the full life cycle of a lodgepole pine. I had no idea that the park's winter habitat was so limited. Spending time with people who know the park inside and out and learning from them really made this a great project to work on. I'm looking forward to going back again...
Also, I just want to give a big thank you to all those who took the time to help us with this project.