A Pressure Cooker Obama Can Enjoy

(AP)
For rookie fly fisherman Barack Obama, it's the story of "the one that got away."

White House staffers who spent several hours fishing the cold waters of O'Dell Creek say Mr. Obama had some good strikes from Rainbow trout but he he did not land one of the wily fish. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had bragging rights to two Rainbows. Gibbs is now carrying pictures of the catch on his Blackberry. White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, a native of the West, also landed some of the fighting Rainbows. Aides say Mr. Obama relished his time away from what he has described as the White House "container."

Today the First Family is touring some of the wonders of Yellowstone National Park including the "Old Faithful" geyser. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer had some special advice for the Obamas. Recalling the first time his own children saw "Old Faithful," Schweitzer urged the President to watch the reaction of daughters Sasha and Malia. The governor said, "Hold them close because you will never forget the feeling that you have when their eyes get as big as saucers seeing the majesty of God at work in Big Sky Country."

When then Vice President Al Gore visited the park he noted it has more geysers and hot springs than the rest of the world combined. The natural pressure cookers could have a special meaning for a president dealing with the heated debate over health care reform and the other hot button issues on his agenda.

As the Obamas spend most of Saturday at the landmark national park they may be lucky enough see some of the bison, moose elk or bears that roam the more than two million acres.

Reporters have been told not to expect much access to the First Family's day in the park. There are hints of an opportunity to see them gazing at "Old Faithful." A photo-op at the steaming geyser could redefine "pool spray," the term used for quick camera sweeps of the president and his family.
Mr. Obama is following in the footsteps of many other U.S. presidents who have visited Yellowstone.

In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the legislation that set aside the unspoiled land for what would become the world's first national park. Theodore Roosevelt was the president with the closest links to the park. He promoted the preservation of parklands at Yellowstone and other areas.

Newspapers in 1903 reported T.R. shot a mountain lion during a trip to Yellowstone. A New York Times headline proclaimed, "PRESIDENT KILLS LION IN YELLOWSTONE PARK." The Roosevelt Arch at the Northern entrance to the park carries the inscription, "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people."
One of the park's 300 geysers is named for President Warren Harding who visited in 1923.

Calvin Coolidge traveled to Yellowstone in 1927. A park worker later recalled the president known as "silent Cal" was more interested in fishing than talking.

A young ranger named Gerald Ford worked at the park in 1936. President Ford would later recall it was "one of the greatest summers of my life."
The Obamas will make their own memories on today's brief visit.

Unlike the millions of other visitors to one of the nation's most popular attractions, they didn't have to pack the car and they certainly won't wait in any lines.
  • Peter Maer On Twitter»

    Peter Maer is a CBS News White House Correspondent.

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