Monday, June 16, 2008

Celebrating T.R. on Fathers Day in Yellowstone

I spent Fathers Day with Jenny & Sam, tramping about Yellowstone, sharing T.R. with staff and guests at the various lodges. It was a lovely morning as we toured the Mammoth Hot Springs, a hot liquid mosaic. At the Mammoth Lodge, the Wooden Map Room begged for a performance of the Man in the Arena. The western wall of the room holds a gigantic parquet map of the United States, made with woods from all fifty states and from various foreign countries. Marked on the map are the major train lines and highways that crisscrossed the nation in 1937.

We traveled on to the beautiful vistas along the South Rim Road of the Yellowstone River Canyon. We stopped first at Artist’s Point where the view of the Lower Falls is simply invigorating. Back to the Tom Thumb Trails, a vigorous family hike and a beautiful view of the Upper Falls. My father reminded me that my late mother enjoyed sketching these falls when our family visited Yellowstone in the Spirit of 1976.

At Norris we visited the Museum of the National Park Ranger, which had some tremendous displays from the early years of our National Parks. Ranger Joseph Evans made a gracious host, and I do hope our next visit gives us some more time to enjoy the finer details.

Before we left Norris, we were right up close with a couple of big bull buffalo and not long thereafter joined a gaggle of tourists as we watched mother and cub grizzly bears search for bugs and other food beneath the buffalo pies. Into the woods they ran, and we went on to a picnic beside Lake Yellowstone.

We finished our day with over five hundred people from around the world in awe of Old Faithful, erupting to a chorus of ooohs and aaahs and exclamations from voices, young and old, in a dozen different languages. I shared TR with guests and staff at the Old Faithful Inn & Lodge, each being rustic and open spaces perfect for a TR show.

Jenny and Sam joined me for a tramp through the geysers beyond Old Faithful, and we were amazed at what we saw: brilliant, bubbling cauldrons and steaming sulpheric plumes. As we ventured out, a massive rain cloud rumbled overhead. As the rain began to fall, adding to the hydro-technics of the geyser field, Jenny exclaimed at the sights. In the east, a waxing moon shone bright in a pale blue sky. To the west, a purple and pink sunset radiated through the cloud cover. Above, the grey rumbler poured forth a cold, refreshing rain that sent Sam to the vanguard of the shelter bound tourists. Jenny laughed that the atmospheric kaleidoscope would be complete if we only had hail, and, as if on cue, the little balls of hail began to fall and cling to our spring coats.

In his autobiography, T.R. writes of his father, Theodore Roosevelt, that he “…was the greatest man I ever knew.” On this Fathers Day, inspired by Theodore Roosevelt and his devotion to family, I pray that I am found a worthy father, loving and firm, devoted to teaching my daughter faith and values and child-like enough to join her in vigorous play.

I give thanks for a patient bride and a spunky daughter. God must love me, for he has given me some special people to love. That they are sharing this great T.R. adventure with me is a source of great joy.

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