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Travels With Beaker

Quite a few years ago, I don’t really know how, the Muppets character Beaker became C&EN’s unofficial mascot. If you are not familiar with the Muppets (what planet have you been living on?), Beaker is the shy lab assistant of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. He’s got a shock of red hair, typical Muppet protruding eyes, a big orange nose, a pale green lab coat, and a tie. He’s also accident-prone.

C&EN Managing Editor Robin Giroux has custody of two small Beaker plush dolls, which often tag along on trips taken by C&EN editors, both on business and vacation trips. Since I have a new iPhone 4 and I am determined to learn how to use its multiple functionalities (I never learned how to take a photograph and e-mail it from my BlackBerry), I decided to take Beaker along on a recent vacation with my wife, Jan, to Montana to visit our son, Rudy Jr., and hike in Glacier National Park.

Nope, this Editor’s Page is not about climate change or the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park (they’re projected to be gone by 2030). It’s just about traveling with Beaker and sharing a few of the photographs I took.

Rudy & Beaker in Montana

Rudy Baum and Beaker on a bridge over Blodgett Creek in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. Horsehead Arch is in the background. Credit: Jan Baum

Rudy Jr. took Jan and me on two hikes in the Bitterroot Mountains south of Missoula, where he is a student at the University of Montana. He finds my newfound enthusiasm for my smartphone amusing. One hike was up the stunning Blodgett Canyon to a bridge over Blodgett Creek and a view of Horsehead Arch. Jan took the photo of Beaker and me.

Several days later, we stopped at the entrance to Glacier to take an obligatory picture of Beaker and the entrance sign (you can see that picture at C&EN Online). A car pulled up behind us, and two young women got out to ask us to take a picture of them at the sign. They saw Beaker and one woman said, “Beaker!” and the other said, “Meep, meep, meep, meep.”

The other two pictures are of Beaker on a hike up Swiftcurrent Pass Trail out of Many Glacier on the east side of the park. The wildflowers and scenery were spectacular.

Beaker has had many adventures with C&EN staff members. He’s been in Tiananmen Square, at a World Cup football match in Germany, chewed on by Godzilla in Tokyo, hung out with sled dogs in Alaska, gone whale watching off the coast of Massachusetts, and many more. Catch some of the other pics of Beaker on C&EN Online.

Thanks for reading.

3 Comments

  • Aug 29th 201111:08
    by Bethany Halford

    That Beaker gallery at C&EN Online is a hoot. And hey, that’s the piper from wedding.

  • Aug 29th 201111:08
    by Bethany Halford

    *my* wedding. oops

  • Sep 1st 201110:09
    by Rudy Baum

    Horsehead Arch can be seen from the bridge over Blodgett Creek, but is not in this particular photograph!

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