Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I remember Bob Berger.......

In 1988 we arrived in Yellowstone National Park rather overwhelmed.  Lew had just had a heart attack in February and Jan was job looking to support the family.  We met this man on a bike who shared with us that he was traveling very slowly because he had just had part of a lung removed due to lung cancer.  Lew and Bob slowly walked together to Grand while I would speed ahead with the kids.  Soon Bob became part of our Yellowstone Family.  He would call us sometimes during the year to see how plans for our summer were developing.  We would meet in the park for various functions (most notability the picnics).  When he stopped visiting the park we called several times.  I called when we bought land in Idaho in the hopes of interesting him in also puchasing land or at least visiting the park again.  Now it is too late as we say our very sad good-byes to one of our Yellowstone family members.

Social Life
Bob always looked at visiting Yellowstone as a social adventure.  His Putt Putt Hut and Putt Putt Hut II were open for anyone who wanted to enter.  Sitting and talking to Bob while watching geyser hill was a very common geyser gazer thing to do.  He would bring special treats for different people.  For our kids he always had Goldfish to share.
Putt Putt Hut I in background

1988 picnic @ Lower Hams
Bob standing behind Jan
Bob planned for a picnic for months!  Several phone calls were made to discuss the menu and what we would do and what he would do to provide a good time for the guests (other geyser gazers).  The one time it went really badly was when we had planned on a picnic at Ojo Caliente Spring in 1991 before the road was mitigated for Wetland Restoration.  We were sitting in our chairs in front of the Ham Store when Genean Dunn yelled from a car as it sped past "Morning!"  We tried calling Bob who was set up at Ojo on the CB radio from the Morning  boardwalk.  I finally drove out to let him know that no one would be arriving for a picnic.  He was quite dissappointed that all his work was for not but on reflection he knew the gazer community.  We had different group picnics until I think, 1997.  Someone should have pictures that sets the year.  We drove to West and purchased at least 10 loaves of bread.  Bob cooked spaghetti the day before for hours.  On July 4th he reheated the spaghetti and you had a choice of his sauce or Betty's sauce made just for us gazers!  We and the Dunn's toasted up garlic bread, wine appeared and over 50 people were fed. That winter when Bob called, we declined to have a picnic.  We felt too much work was done by too few people.  I didn't like disappointing Bob, but I could not see any other end.  It was overwhelming our own time in the basin.  

Geyser Data
Bob would sit in the Putt Putt Hutt and take geyser times of the hill.  He would give them to a regular (frequently us) and we would enter them in "the book".  One year we were asked to time Little Cub to the second from the ham store.  We did so.  Later Bob appeared and we had a bit of a study.  We went up to the hill and timed Little Cub and found out that when Bob could see it with binoculars, it was 15-20 seconds later than when it actually erupted.  That varied so timing to the second to determine any kind of theory went out the window.
Bob was the one who organized the Sawmill Group Data Study.  Everyone was expected to do their part in the study.  It was 72 hours of round the clock data gathering.  We did some of the day times and others were hounded into do the nights.  
Bob also re-calibrated the Old Faithful Tree for the VC.  I don't remember the year, but Lew ended up helping with part of that project.  If the Tree is accurate, you can thank Bob!

Bob was the go-to guy for a tool or a fix on something you had that was broken.  When Bob and Dave arrived they would spend their first night at a cabin, fixing it.  If it leaked, it didn't when they left.  Yes, Bob liked staying in the cabins with the motorhome beside.  
One of the most famous gadget fixes was when Garrison Kellor visited Yellowstone July 5, 1997.  Bob and Dave worked with the Wobegon Lake crew to have our CB radios broadcast live over the air during his show.  It was so much fun to see them work their magic and make this happen.  It was exciting to be on the show.  It was all Dave and Bob.

In 2001 we had our last small gathering picnic with Bob at his cabin.  He and Dave liked to feed the squirrels and we had fun together introducing our Katz to the squirrels. 

 Some of the tourists complained about something or the other and our good times with Bob came to an end.  He never returned to the Park.  We called some and when we bought our land we sure did try to get him to visit.  But he never returned after that last picnic.  I have missed him every year we have returned and he isn't there.  Now he joins all those other ghostly geyser gazers. 


  1. What a lovely friendship...

  2. Yes, We have a special place in our hearts for our gazer family. For years we met the same people and had such fun times.

  3. Anonymous11:33 AM

    The picnic that was aborted by Morning occurred in 1991.


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