As we move through the month of March, Star-Herald reporters are busy writing extra stories for the four Stars sections – Business, Ag, Healthy Communities, and People in Education. I was setting up an interview for the Ag section at Chadron State College with Lucinda Mays. Ag Editor Spike Jordan asked if he could tag along. He wanted to do a story on Hay Springs Yaks, owned by Una Taylor and Tim Hardy. Una and Tim were gracious hosts. I had a blast learning about yaks and hanging out with yaks.
I work the fourth Saturday of every month. That means I cover the Polar Plunge each year as well. I never know a good time to get there. The event always starts at 11 a.m., but you want to get there and interview some people ahead of time, take some photographs for the photo gallery of set up and the crowd. Some years I get there at the right time. Some years, like this year, I was early.
Fortunately, my partner in crime, Reporter Charissa Bryce, was coming with me to do video. I would write the story and take photos. In the past, I’ve had to do all three.
Naturally, we had some time to goof off. This is how a reporter spends their time when they can’t leave an event, but are slightly bored.
The road wasn’t as busy as I had thought it would be at 5 a.m. I suppose it’s because several people traveled up to agate Fossil Beds National Monument the night before and many more came later in the day.
About 10 miles before the park, cars, trucks and RVs dotted the sides of the road. They were all out of state vehicles. Most were pulled off the road and parked against fences. The fences are to keep livestock in. It doesn’t mean it’s free land to park your car or pitch your tent. But they did so anyway.
It angered me in a way. It’s great that people travel from places far away to see an eclipse at a great site, but disrespecting others and their land rubs me the wrong way.
Later in the day, I heard one gentleman say, “We’re so far out in the middle of nowhere, the owners, if there even are any, probably wouldn’t have seen us anyway.”
I was wearing my Star-Herald polo shirt and I was working. I chose to let that comment go. I also didn’t want it to ruin my day.
I turned into the park. The rangers smiled as they saw me. My day was already better. This is a photo essay of my day. I wrote two stories for the Star-Herald, took more than 700 photographs, met some new people, and experienced a phenomenal event.
This little guy was near our hotel. He watched me carefully while resting his front paw on a pine cone, then darted across the lawn and up a tree.
He only stopped for a moment, not enough time to focus and get a good shot of him, but I think he was mocking me.