Notes from Yellowstone #9

Another week behind me! Not that I want the time to go by too quickly. It’s the work I want to go by quickly, so I can get to the fun…now that I am recovered enough from the work to have some fun.

The frigid cold gave way to the most beautiful series of days, with weather ordered up to please almost anyone. Sunshine, warm but not too warm, blue skies with only a few puffy clouds on the horizon, light breezes, and it’s payday!

My take-home for 43 hours (less campsite rental, medical program, and electricity along with the typical payroll deductions): $251. I don’t know what I will do with it all. I’m glad I’m not trying to pay student loan debt on this job, or simply live. I could not have done this summer without the benefit of my AF retirement and Bill’s social security and DIC. 

I’m grateful for them both, you know. The Air Force and Bill. The benefits I count from both go way beyond the material benefits, mentioned above. I probably wouldn’t be where I am, doing what I am doing were it not for all they gave and taught me. Them and the parents and grandparents, of course. 

The past few days have been rather tender anniversary days for me. Bill left this life on July 29, five years ago. I took some time with that, and enjoyed a couple of beautiful drives in the park.

On Thursday evening, a few hourse before sunset, the dogs and I drove from Grant Village to Canyon , along the western edge of Yellowstone Lake, and through Hayden Valley (here is a map to make it easier for you to follow along). This drive is enhanced (or complicated) by the number of wildlife, primarily bison — a LOT of bison — that wander back and fort across the road in parts of the valley.  The bison aren’t really the problem. It’s the tourists. The park is full of them this year. They stop their cars in the middle of the road. Dead stop. They park willy nilly on the sides of the roads, whether or not there is a turn-out or even a shoulder. They get out lawn chairs — I kid you not — they get out lawn chairs and watch these enormous irritable beasts from a ridiculously close vantage point. Yes. The calves are SO cute! But mama bison are not warm and friendly, and do not take kindly to your efforts to ensure your front row seat.

I guess you’ve heard by now, we’ve had another bison vs. human incident in the park. Another person, this one apparently a seasonal employee, trying to get that selfie with the bison. I wish I could say that I have no words. I do have words. Plenty of them. They’re just not very charitable words, and so I will keep them to myself.

I also saw another bull elk (looked to be 4×4) with a crowd building alongside each side of the road, and people walking with singularity of focus and paying no attention to the traffic on the road or even to the rangers attempting keep them all safe, including the elk.

At Canyon, I went to Camper Services to get an idea of how they were layed out, compared to our facility at Grant. Just a look-see, give the dogs a walk, and get home before dark.

The drive home was a special treat, with a fullish moon rising over Yellowstone Lake as the sun was going down brilliantly through the trees on the western rim of the caldera.

Yesterday, I went to Old Faithful, by myself this time. There aren’t too many places you can really walk your dogs in Yellowstone. Besides the actual park restrictions, which keeps them off of boardwalks and trails, most dogs would either be prey or competitor to a predator in these woods, and at risk. I keep mine on a pretty short leash. I’ve also never been comfortable forcing my dogs to interact with crowds of tourists, some of whom have apparently lost their minds, as evidenced in Hayden Valley.

The Old Faithful village complex is about an hours drive from Grant, north and west. I was there in time for the 10:53 eruption of Old Faithful. I took lots of pictures! I then took the trail up past some of the lesser known, no less spectacular, geysers in the same thermal complex. Beautiful colors in the organisms growing in the hot streams of mineral-laden water flowing down from these pressure cookers, against a fabulously blue sky with just enough clouds to make it intteresting in a photo. Speaking of which, it was about this time that I discovered that my camera memory was reading as full, although i had downloaded it all to my Mac before I set out. Downloaded and erased on the card. 

“Well. Shoot!”

Yep. That’s exactly what I said. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I tried ejecting and reinserting the card a couple of times. No joy. I tried deleting the picture that was on it. Yes, that’s right, picture. As in one. The camera was telling me that the card was full, even though there was nothing on it. The one picture I had was of Old Faithful, steaming about 10 minutes before the eruption. It was a setup shot. A throwaway. According to the camera message that would come up momentarily when I opened the shutter cover, this image was recorded to the camera’s internal memory. 

I had one choice left, before I went in search of a new memory card. I reformatted the card. Brilliant. It worked. In time for me to see the Beehive geyser erupt. It’s a bit more dramatic than Old Faithful, in height and gallons of water expelled under pressure. And it only erupts once a day. I got the picture [to be included later].

On the way out of Old Faithful yesterday afternoon, I picked up a pair of hitchhikers, fellow seasonal contract employees, from Taiwan. They work in different areas of the park and were on their way to Fishing Bridge, on the northern edge of Lake Yellowstone, to rent boats and paddle on the water for a while. I was able to get them about a third of the way and to a junction where they could easily get their next lift. These hitchhikers are quite common in Yellowstone, and are almost always young folks working here for the summer and without personal transportation. They are pretty safe, and all have interesting stories.

Critters. The chipmunks have been so busy stripping the grasses of their seed tassels and the wildflowers of all their tasty bits. I always thought the tired mid-summer look of a meadow had to do with the age of the plants and the weather. This morning, it struck me that there were always these little critters pruning the meadow of its goodies, and storing a good bit of the haul for the snows to come. But not too soon. Please.


About Sharon

Like anyone who lives long enough, I have experienced great loss and survived. I am convinced that my survival depends on my own participation in creating the reality I am living in, and I am determined to be a thoughtful and active participant/creator. These writings are my way of documenting that creation. As the song goes, "I will survive!" I chose the title Staying Vertical because I find that surviving isn't just staying on my feet physically. Keeping my thoughts and emotions on the vertical plane keeps me alive and moving forward. Thanks for joining me!
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4 Responses to Notes from Yellowstone #9

  1. Jodi says:

    Love they way you transport me. Miss you but can’t wait to see Yellowstone through your eyes.

  2. Kris Sherman says:

    Love these posts, Sharon. I am a bit jealous, too. When I give up my zoo job, I would love to do a summer in Yellowstone. What an experience to treasure.

  3. I am there with you. The warm, conversational style is inviting and compelling. And I can’t wait to see the pictures!

  4. vali says:

    lovely as ever

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