Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Park - two families

Yet another post inspired by Hannah's book: in 1921 the Anderson family went to "The Park." I realized after I read a couple of paragraphs that Hannah meant Yellowstone National Park, which was of course the first National Park in the US. The Park I personally love and visit the most is Zion in Southern Utah, which itself opened in the spring of 1920. When we go, I look at the old photos there and I get a really heavy chest pain-slash-good feeling; I just want to have been there back then so badly! And here my family was in the other Park, right around that time.
Photo (and two images below) by noted Yellowstone photographer F. Jay Haynes. More can be seen here.

The park had fairly recently allowed cars to begin driving through, so the Andersons packed up a car (I wish I knew what kind) and drove from Shelley to Rexburg to pick up "Melvin" and his family. (Melvin is one of Hannah's sons.) Hannah said they had been talking about making the trip for a long time, but they never seemed to have the time or money. Sounds familiar? So they just decided to go anyway in July of 1921.

Their car needed repair in Rexburg, and in 1921 I don't suppose there were many car mechanics to choose from, but they got one and left the next morning. They drove the 58 miles to Mack's Inn in Island Park where they stopped and rested and ate lunch, loving the beautiful scenery of Island Park (which is initially the Park I thought Hannah was referring to anyway). Melvin brought a camera and stopped to take some "snaps shots" at the stop and throughout the park, but I don't have those photos.

The family camped and fished and had a wonderful time. They saw the Paint Pots, the geysers, bears and buffalo herds. Hannah raves about the Old Faithful Inn and sadly mentions some out-of-business hotels that were suddenly unnecessary when cars began driving through the park. I was struck how even then, nearly a hundred years ago and at the peak time of my nostalgia, they had nostalgia for the simpler, un-automoblied past.

On their way home they came through Harriman State Park in Island Park (Idaho), which is a place we stayed as a (Stricklan) family a couple of years ago. I loved it there. Here is one of the 2012 Harriman Sunsets.

TEN YEARS AFTER the Andersons, the Clarks went to Yellowstone.

Nate's grandpa Ralph Clark would have been 5 or 6 when his family went to Yellowstone in 1931. Whereas we don't have my family's photos, we don't have stories from Grampsie. He may remember the trip (he is 88 now, I think), but it isn't likely that he can recall the details. He might, however remember that BEAR! (Since his stroke five years ago, he has had a hard time recounting the stories he does wish to tell anyway, which is really unfortunate for us. I will write more of his stories in the future, of course, with Nate's help.)

Nate and I haven't yet been to "The Park" with our kids. This makes me want to go now!


  1. Oh invite my wife and me when you go! We really want to go tooo!

  2. we should try and get a close up pic with a friendly bear when we go.

  3. My husband the wildlife biologist does not recommend close ups with baby bears. But we both enthusiastically support a trip to The Park!