Growing Up in Yellowstone is an autobiographical diary about the boy, Benjie and his formative years spent in Mammoth Village, the Park Headquarters of America's first National Park, Yellowstone. Benjie's father was an administrator for the National Park Service, and in 1958 he accepted a promotion to the position of Associate Superintendent at Yellowstone. He moved his entire family from their home in Northern Virginia to the famous Park, and for the next six years Benjie completed his elementary school years in the small community's local school while having the most incredible adventures of his lifetime. Benjie was a quiet boy with a hint of mischief in his personality, always challenging what he was told to do and what he actually wanted to do. He was a very shy and introverted young child before moving to Yellowstone, but having the incredible opportunity of living in the middle of nature transformed the young child into an adventurous boy full of curiosity for the unknown world around him. He grew to love his tiny community and was given free rein to explore his surroundings as long as he stayed within certain boundaries. However, Benjie stretched those boundaries to the limits during his boyhood years in Mammoth and got into numerous scrapes with bears and elk that tested his abilities of self-preservation. Shortly after the young family arrived to begin their new life in Yellowstone, they encountered one of the most traumatic experiences any family has ever survived. In August of 1959, a tremendous earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale struck southwestern Montana, causing extensive damage and loss of life to the state and sending horrendous shock waves south through Madison Canyon all the way to Yellowstone. The quake struck the Park in the middle of the night when Benjie and his family were sound asleep. They were awakened when their house began to shake and chimneys on the roof started to disintegrate, sending huge pieces of rocks sliding off the roof to fall like thunderclaps to the yard below. During their time in the Park, Benjie and his family fished the vast waterways of Yellowstone for Rainbow Trout. They hiked and rode horseback on back country trails and camped in research cabins along breathtaking rivers like Hell Roaring Creek that only a scant handful of Park employees ever got to visit. They got up close and personal with every wild creature that inhabited the Park, especially black and grizzly bears, elk, antelope and moose, and the iconic bison. They visited every attraction the Park had to offer and got to see those places in the dead of winter when there were no tourists, and they had those places all to themselves. They learned how to ski and sled and did cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Their father rigged up their sleds to a tow rope on the back of their station wagon and pulled them behind the car along plowed Park roadways with ten foot high snow drifts on both sides of the road. Most important to Benjie and his siblings was that they got to enjoy nature at its finest and learned to appreciate the Park in intimate ways that visitors could never imagine. They lived in a small community where the spirit of togetherness helped them cope with Yellowstone's brutal winters when hellacious blizzards and below zero temperatures shut down outdoor activities. Social programs like scouting, roller skating in the community canteen, library story hours, school plays and dances filled the long winter months with fellowship and great fun. Growing Up in Yellowstone is a touching story about a boy and his family learning to appreciate each other and the natural world around them. It is also a fascinating insight into the world of a young child learning to deal with the challenges that surrounded him. Most importantly, it is a story of how all people must recognize their individual responsibility in helping to preserve for posterity wild places like Yellowstone.
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