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Breaking Traditions

It was interesting to see how much of the building of the new Old Faithful Visitor center had progressed over the summer. By the last visit a few weeks ago, it was apparent that the naked steel beams make it look like it's going to be a massive block sitting there. Maybe not as ugly as the old visitor center, but right now it sure doesn't look like much of an improvement, either. But will have to wait until next year to see how right or wrong that impression has been.

I also discovered that, unlike the old building, the new one will be named after someone. In this case, a someone who has no connection to the Old Faithful area or geyser. A person to be honored for... being the bureaucrat who pushed to get the new building built. A person who is not dead. A person who is still working for the National Park Service at the park headquarters in Mammoth. Talk about an advanced case of Monument Syndrome.

One naming tradition of Yellowstone is that geysers and other thermal features are supposed to never be named after persons. Sure it was violated a few times, and those examples, if anything, help reinforce this tradition. Fortunately, the days when the superintendent can go about naming just about one of every type of landmark after himself are gone, and we should not be resurrecting them by proxy.

Considering that the focus of the area is Old Faithful, the geyser, why is it necessary to name this building after anyone? It's not the Robert Reamer Inn. Sure all the other major buildings in the area are named after Old Faithful, and that can be a bit confusing if you don't quite get the difference between "lodge", "snowlodge" and "inn." Yet there has not been a need to differentiate them by naming any of them after people, living or dead. Visitors have never had a problem figuring what "Visitor Center" meant. (As for "Lower Hamilton's Store", that's a descriptive term there, referring to the now former owners, not any particular person.)

If the NPS really must name that building after someone, how about naming it after a person who is dead, who died in the performance of his duties in Yellowstone, and who had a close association with Old Faithful Geyser, the Old Faithful Area and geothermal features in general. What's wrong with the the name Roderick A. Hutchison Memorial Old Faithful Visitor Center, anyhow?

(Note: if anyone wants to organize such a naming effort, please let me know and I'll post contact info here.)

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Webcam Complaint

Now that it's being controlled by a variety of people, I have a complaint about the aiming of the streaming web camera. I would prefer that it not be aimed with the intention of allowing people to pose in front of Old Faithful. I have it on to see geysers, not people making fools of themselves. Even better would be to position it so that the bottom of the frame is just above the tops of the crowd's head.

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Observations for 01 September

The promised snow didn't appear, everything was only slightly wet this morning. But it was cold and overcast, and quickly got windy, too.

The Grotto marathon eruption ended overnight, and by the time I got there, Bijou was already back to erupting strongly and continuously. There was some indication that Giant might start having hot periods, but I didn't stick around. But on my way down there, I did have an animal encounter of sorts. As I passed by the grove of trees below Castle to the east, a couple of coyotes suddenly took exception to my passing by. They yelled at me the whole time I was in view, even when I got up to the Castle bike rack. This also set off all the other packs in the basin, so soon the whole areas echoed with yelps. In all the years of biking on that trail, both day and night, that was a first.

Since Grand was an empty crater, and Beehive's Indicator started while I was checking out Bijou, that meant that there was nothing to do in the Upper Basin, I decided to leave, but when Lynn Stephens told me she was headed for Great Fountain because it was probably due soon, I decided that I had the time to see my eruption for the year. I got there well into the overflow, and the start was pretty good. I guess it didn't realize I was there. I also forgot about parking and the wind direction there, but my truck wasn't in any danger this time.

On the return from my first trip to Yellowstone in 1982 with my then just purchased old truck, I got a nice rock chip in the windshield in a construction zone near Burns, Oregon. I then went 25 more years without another such hit. This time at least it was on the last return trip of the season, in the just completed construction zone around Rigby, Idaho. Oh, well.