Notes from Yellowstone #10

Monday. It’s cool and wet this morning. We had rain overnight and could have some more today. We needed it. It doesn’t take long for things to dry out up here. It will perk the wildflowers up, and bring a lot of people into the showers and laundry today. Something about camping overnight without electricity sets off this basic human need which I’m sure Maslow merely overlooked in his pyramid of human needs. My sense is that it comes between safety and security and before self-esteem, given some of the behavior I’ve observed by campers in their single-minded pursuit of a shower. 

We’re a combination laundry, as well, and that leads to  even more interesting behaviors.  The other day, a family (European) came in to do showers and laundry. Mom, an attractive woman in her late 30s, went into one of the restrooms and stripped down to nothing, wrapped herself in a thin towel, and then came back into the laundry to load the family’s clothes into the washers while they showered. When they had finished, she went to the shower. I would not have noticed, since we were so busy, but she came to get a refill on her coffee while the boys were all in the shower. As she stood there, holding her blue microfiber towel up in one corner, with no obvious self-consciousness, and I filled her coffee cup, I wondered who else was paying attention. I looked around. No one. I even asked one of my male co-workers, after the family had showered, laundered, dressed and gone, if he had noticed. Nope.

Speaking of co-workers…I seem to be losing them. Two of them will be quitting in the next week. So, those of us left get more hours and more work during those hours, since there are less people and the same number of tasks. I’m not the least bit excited about this. I’m going to continue to “chop wood and carry water” for the time being, but I am reassessing the situation daily. Another co-worker has already made it known that she will not be staying until the end of her contract. That will bring the crew down from seven to four to cover the showers and laundry from 6:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. This could get ugly, and I didn’t come here for ugly. 

This news going into my catnap/coffee break/ turn-around has me a little depressed. On the other side of that is my break, and two days off! 

Wednesday. I had “the talk” with my manager yesterday. I told him that I had some serious concerns about being able to physically keep up with the increased work hours and smaller crews and not get injured. I explained that at 65 with a 16-year old hip replacement and a knee my ortho described as “messed up,” I am a little slower, more deliberate, and not as mobile as someone in their 20s. I didn’t want to be whiny, but I needed to be realistic about my abilities. He was understanding and willing to accomodate my biggest worries. I think he thought I was going to tell him that I was quitting. He doesn’t know me very well, yet.

The red and purple pink light of the sunrise coming through the lodgepoles is accompanied by hard cold rain on the roof of the Hovel. It will be a busy morning for the showers today.

Two days later: I was right. What an analyst! We did >290 “free” showers (comes with the campsite in Grant), and at least 150 paid showers between 7 am and 1:30, when we closed to clean and sanitize the whole shower/restroom complex. We also check them regularly in between the two cleanings to keep them spiffy-ish. There are 12 showers on each side and four restrooms each for women and men. We also have three very nice ADA shower/restroom combinations. It all stayed busy. I won’t go into the details of the whole process of cleaning and sanitizing. It’s pretty rigorous, and high on the yuck factor.

I get that men love long hair on women. I read Desmond Morris. Long shiny hair indicates healthy breeding stock.  If men had to hose down a women’s shower facility and watch all that hair sliding down the walls in ropy clumps and then across the floor to the drains — which then have to be cleaned to keep the water flowing in the drains — I suggest they might lose some of the fascination. But, that’s just the practical side of me talking.

Yesterday, after the dogs were fed and walked, and I had a second cup of coffee and my supply list in hand, I headed for the eastern entrance/exit to Yellowstone and Cody WY beyond it. 

This was another phenomenal drive. I saw that bull elk again! (NFY#1) This time he was grazing on the left side of the road, between West Thumb and the burned area going toward East Entrance Road, for those of you keeping track on that map I gave you. 

It’s a 200-mile round trip to Cody from Grant Village. People who work in Yellowstone make it because

  1. It’s Cody, Wyoming. Buffalo Bill Cody. Rodeos and Wild West shows. TV and movie recreations. Some of you will get this and wax nostalgic about Saturday mornings. I feel a little sorry for those of you who don’t understand.
  2. Sierra Trading Post Outlet, where I scored a $140 pair of Keen water proof over ankle suede day-hikers for $49. And dog toys. Of course.
  3. Walmart Super Center. I won’t comment on the politics or the optics. I had a list that included hardware, kitchenware, groceries, and liquor (Woodford Reserve and Yukon Jack) and needed to be back to the Hovel for the dogs before 6. Walmart it was. 

As I said earlier, the drive was pretty glorious. Starting with the elk. Turns out, I’d miscounted before. He’s got 14 total points (7×7) and possibly 15. Enormous!

The drive out to the East Entrance Road is all along the west side of the Lake Yellowstone, and then the Entrance Road continues along northern part of the lake, through Fishing Bridge complex (in a bit of irony, no fishing is allowed off of Fishing Bridge), and out the park entrance into greater Wyoming and the Absaroka Mountains. These are the mountains I can see from our vantage point on the western thumb of the lake. 

The early morning light and early morning mists on the lake, with it’s random steam pots and geysers along the edge, make it one of the most mystical places I’ve ever visited. You can imagine that it was somewhere like this that legends like The Lady of the Lake were born. 

From Yellowstone out to Cody,  and back, I drove through the rugged and craggy Absarokas. All day, going and coming, I saw hundreds of bikers wither going through Yellowstone on their way out to Sturgis, or on their way back. Hundreds. Singles, pairs together on one bike or two, groups. All kinds of demographics, but mostly middle-aged and older. Making the sacred pilgrimage.  


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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One Response to Notes from Yellowstone #10

  1. Brandy C says:

    Sharon — As always, I enjoyed the blog post. So descriptive I could almost see it. My sister was on the back of one of those bikes going to and from Sturgis. I hope you waved! LOL! Keep taking care of yourself and pacing the work however you need to, so you can stay healthy and keep the stories coming! Brandy

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