Grand Geyser was erupting as I rode up to Old Faithful Inn on Saturday morning. I took the towering white plume of water and steam silhouetted against the clear pale blue sky as an auspicious sign. This will be a good day to sell books, I thought.
When I went into the lobby, I found an easel with information about my book (Adventures in Yellowstone), my biography and a photo of me. That apparently accounted for the bulge of hits on those things on my blog last week.
I checked in at the gift shop where employees greeted me like an old friend and helped me set up. (It was the third time I’ve done book signings at the Inn.) Soon, I was seated behind a table smiling as passers-by and enticing them to buy my book.
I adjusted to the rhythm of the place, which is governed by Old Faithful’s 90-minute cycle. The lobby is nearly empty when the geysers plays. Then it fills with a rush of people searching for the restrooms, awing over the magnificent lobby and milling around. When things thin out a bit is the best time to sell books.
I noticed that during slack times—even while Old Faithful was playing—there were a few people who were eager to talk about the stories in my book. I began asking questions and discovered that many of them were tour bus drivers looking for stories to tell their clients during the rides between sights.
I told them that my book has stories about many of the famous people and events in Yellowstone history. Emma Cowan’s story of being captured by Indians would be one to tell when driving by Nez Perce Creek. Truman Everts’ 37-day ordeal of being lost lost alone in the Yellowstone wilderness would a good one near Yellowstone Lake. And crossing Dunraven Pass, why, the Earl of Dunraven’s hilarious description of how to pack a mule or one of his exciting hunting stories.
“if there aren’t enough stories in my book,” I said, “you should check out my blog. There are another hundred more of them there.” When I gave examples, I mentioned William Henry Wright’s efforts to photograph grizzlies at night with flash powder. “That’s great,” she said, “sometimes I have a whole busload of photographers.”
When I asked about her current load, she sighed. “Children,” she said, “lots of children.”
“They’d love Ernest Thompson Seton’s ‘Johnny Bear,'” I replied, and she headed back to her bus to read it.
In the afternoon, I talked to a guide who works for Xantera, the park concessionaire. She suggested that I talk to her boss about the possibility of setting up a program to help Yellowstone guides find stories to tell their clients and she gave me his phone number.
On Sunday, I called the number and chatted with the boss. He stopped by my table later and we talked some more. We didn’t make any commitments, but it looks like there’s a real possibility that I could present a program on Yellowstone stories for tour guides at Old Faithful Inn next year. I think that would be great fun—and people telling the stories I collected surely would stimulate sales of my book.
— Read about my last book signing at Old Faithful Inn here.
— Image, Postcard of Old Faithful Inn, c, 1906. New York Public Library.