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4th of July

Yellowstone National Park
July 4, 2006

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We found it surprisingly uncrowded in our country's first National Park on Independence Day. I thought maybe high gas prices were keeping folks at home, but a mining exec from Cody, whom I met in the Old Faithful Lodge, told me it's always empty on the 4th. "No fireworks in Yellowstone."

Years ago, I was listening to an Indian commentator on Pacifica radio during Independence Day, which he called, "the fourth of 'you lie'." I was reminded of that when we crossed the Nez Perce Creek, where we stopped to read the story of Chief Joseph. During the summer of 1877, he was leading a few thousand Nez Perce Indians on a desperate, zig-zagging escape from pursuing cavalry troops and towards the Canadian border, in the hopes of escaping life on the reservation. In August, they passed through Yellowstone, where they encountered (and captured) a party of tourists -- the past bumping into the future.