Castle Geyser in Winter

I spent the day preparing for my presentations on January 1 and 2 at the Old Faithful Inn Snow Lodge. I’ll be at the visitor center gift shop on both days from 7 to 9 p.m. to do readings and sign copies of my book, Adventures in Yellowstone: Early Travelers Tell Their Tales.

I could have just marked a few selections in Adventures and been done with it, but I prefer to do a unique presentation every time I speak. That motivates me to re-examine my collection of stories about early travel to Yellowstone Park and lets people see my presentations more than once without a lot of repetition. That’s really important this time because I’m on for two nights in a row.

I’ll begin both nights by introducing myself and explaining how I became interested in early travel to Yellowstone Park. That gives me an excuse to recount the stories my grandmother told me when I was a little boy. Grandma went to the park in 1909 with her aunt, seven cousins and two brothers. Family lore says they took a milk cow with them to provide for the younger children.

Then I’ll tell stories that explore snow and cold weather in the Park. On Jan. 1, Sunday, I’ll read a story about pioneer photographer F. J. Haynes who was a member of the first winter expedition to the park in 1887. Haynes marveled at the fantastic forms created when ice formed on trees near hot springs and geyser and managed to take pictures in temperatures that reached 50 degrees below zero. On Jan. 2, Monday, I’ll tell how soldiers, who guarded Yellowstone at the dawn of the Twentieth Century, tracked down a notorious buffalo poacher in February.

Of course, I’ll read from Adventures in Yellowstone. On Sunday, I’ll read an excerpt from Truman Everts’ story of being treed by a mountain lion. The incident occurred when Everts became separated from the famous Washburn Expedition of 1870. Everts’ tale of being lost and alone in the Yellowstone wilderness for 37 days is one of the park’s most famous.

Another very famous Yellowstone story is Emma Cowan’s account of being captured by the Nez Perce in 1877. On Monday, I’ll read her chilling description of watching Indians shoot her husband in the head.

Emma’s adventures will also appear in my Sunday presentation when I read a section from the book I’m working on now, Encounters in Yellowstone, which will tell what happened when several groups of tourists ran afoul of the Nez Perce. I’ll read a section from the new book that describes Emma driving her team and wagon 125 miles in 15 hours to be by her wounded husband’s side.

On Monday, I’ll read a selection from Macon’s Perfect Shot, a mid-grades novel that I’m sending to a publisher next week. Perfect Shot tells about a 14-year-old boy who learns to shoot while visiting the Park in the 1870s. I’ll read an excerpt where he makes an impossible shot—and regrets it.

If time allows, I’ll read a couple of my favorite stories. On Sunday, I’ll have Henry Merry’s tale of driving the first automobile into the park in 1904.  Merry tried to race his Winton past the guards, but they lassoed the car and dragged it to the superintendent’s office.  On Monday, I’ll be ready to read “Maud’s Revenge,” the story of how a camp cook gets even with a supercilious travel guest.

I’ll like to end my presentation with a farewell story. On Sunday, I’ll read story from Osborne Russell’s famous Journal of a Trapper about a group of Mountain Men telling tall tales around a campfire in the 1830s. On Monday, I’ll end up with Stephan Dale’s 1904 story about people finishing a six-day tour by saying goodbye to new friendships and budding romances.

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— Photo courtesy of Xantera.

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