NPR logo Liane at Old Faithful

Liane at Old Faithful

Sitting at the Denver airport waiting for a plane. On the way to the airport, we stopped to pick up some stereo sound of a babbling brook, a spouting geyser, and the blub blub of a mud pot.

Yesterday was an amazing day. We went to Old Faithful. It's very strange. Benches are arranged around the geyser like an amphitheater and the visitors fill up the benches and wait for it to go off. Times of eruption are posted at the Old Faithful Inn - the rangers time the eruption, then calculate when it will go off again - usually an hour and a half later. The number of accents and languages heard here is very high. French, Australian, Russian, German, Japanese..the lady at the Old Faithful Inn says that international travel is way up this year.

We also climbed to the "widows' walk at the very top of the Inn. There we talked with Jeff Henry, who took great photos of the 88 fire as it approached. He said it sounded like jet planes, and the smoke was suffocating. Turns out the Inn had recently installed a "deluge" fire sprinkler system, which with the help of countless firefighters saved the place which is over 100 years old and make of lodge pole pine.

We almost were late for the appointment. There was a 45 minute backup behind a big old bison who just swerved along the middle of the road.
Aside from the mountains, meadows, forests, waterfalls, and rivers - the most spectacular feature of this place are the geo thermals - geysers, etc. There is a place called Porcelain Lake - it looks frozen, but it is all salt and steam with a few sky blue pools. Very inviting, very dangerous. That stuff can eat your boots off.

And saving the best for last, I found a beaded belt in the Madison Hotel gift shop in West, Montana. Blue beads spell out Yellowstone Park. Yes!! The only downside is that it is too small to wear. Oh well, it will make a nice addition to my collection.

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If you want a beaded belt come south of Yellostone to Fort Washakie and Lander.
Our Natives of the area can bead anthing into a work of art.
it may not say Yellowstone but it will NOT have been made in China!

Sent by Scott Van Orman | 9:04 AM | 8-17-2008

Ah yes, the beaded belt. I proudly wore one from a visit to Seven Falls in Colorado when I was 12 (1952). Now it just fits around one thigh! And it will remain in my 'summer visit' collection. How silly would it look being worn on a thigh?

Sent by Anne Molck | 10:50 AM | 8-17-2008

You found your belt in the town of West Yellowstone, Montana... not in West, Montana. Locals call it "West" for short but the town's real name is West Yellowstone.

Sent by Laura Johnson | 10:57 AM | 8-17-2008

In your radio report, I believe you said that you had been delayed by a BUFFALO; in your blog you note that a BISON delayed you.

When I was at Yellowstone last July with an Elderhostel hiking group, a young staff member told us this riddle to help us remember the correct word for that animal:

What did the Yellowstone animal mother say to her child as he left for school?

She said, "Bye, son."

National Park humor!

Sent by Flora Buchbinder Cowen | 11:59 AM | 8-17-2008

American Bison - My 9 yr old son got countless people on this one after we visited Yellowstone. When asked how many buffalo he saw, he proclaimed flatly, "none."

"Really? But how long were you there?"

My son's reply, "Oh a week. We saw lots and lots of BISON, but they don't have buffalo."

Apparently the bison was originally confused with the African buffalo. The wrong name sticks to this day.

Thanks for the interesting story on fire fighting. I look forward to the next installment.

Sent by David Baillie | 12:45 PM | 8-17-2008

Listening to Liane's comments about the 1988 fire and referring to the landscape as resiliant. Resiliant implies recovery from a disaster. The 1988 fire was far from a disaster, as are most wildland fires. My wife and I were in a campfire talk in the Park the summer of 1987 and someone asked about all of the dead trees in the forest. The ranger told the story about how a lodgepole forest goes through cycles and ended with the trees dead and dieing at the end of their life cyle. I wanted at the time to yell, "and then it burns." Fire had been kept out of that ecosystem unnaturally for so long it was obviously just a matter of time. That fire was likely the best thing to happen to Yellowstone since the Park was created. And, having been on a few wildfires myself with the US Forest Service it was obvious to me that, for the most part, the suppression efforts obviously caused more ecological harm than the fire ever could.

Sent by Bob Warren | 1:30 PM | 8-17-2008

Thank you, Scott. The "made in China" stamp bothers me, too. There are still many generic pattern belts still sold as souvenirs. I will take u up on the suggestion. Thank you David and Flora. I always confuse the two, now you've given me a way to remember.

Sent by Liane | 1:34 PM | 8-17-2008

Thanks, Liane and team, for taking the time to report from one of this country's last great wild places. Your report promises to be a welcome break from this summer's unrelenting cycle of violence and economic malaise. I hope your short visit taught you something about the beauty, the danger, and the strangeness that makes Yellowstone one of the most fascinating corners of this planet. Thanks for giving me one more reason to tune in next Sunday.

Sent by Pete Aldous | 2:59 PM | 8-17-2008

Bob, you bring up the issues that sent us to Yellowstone. Your points, and more, will be in our reports. Listen in September.

Sent by Liane | 6:19 PM | 8-17-2008

where is Pete from that he thinks that Yellowstone National Park is a wild place?

Sent by Gayle Sisson | 1:50 AM | 8-18-2008

I'm from Utah originally, but I spent three years living and working in Yellowstone.

Sent by Pete Aldous | 2:12 PM | 8-18-2008

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