Notes from Yellowstone #7

Every morning, when I walk the dogs out to the ridge overlooking our little corner of the lake, I can see steam rising from the West Thumb Geyser basin. Yesterday morning, I drove over there to walk around and take some pictures. West Thumb is a caldera within the caldera. A more recent eruption created it from within the giant caldera that holds Yellowstone Lake. While you won’t actually see geysers of the Old Faithful variety here, you will see boiling springs of azure blue (indicating the hottest of the pools) and steaming colorful paint pots with micro-organisms providing oranges, ochres, browns, and greens that steam away from the springs and into the lake.

And wildflowers. There were different wildflowers here than at our campsite, only two miles away. Harebells in abundance around the hydrothermal feature named Bluebell. 

The place was thick with tourists, taking pictures of themselves with steaming geothermal stuff as the backdrop. There was a Ranger Interpreter out, leading a group from feature to feature, and teaching some geology as he went. I even learned one or two things by eavesdropping on the lesson. I learned, for instance, that you could gauge the temperature of the spring by the color. Blue is the hottest — over 163º. No micro-organism survives that high a temperature, so the only color you see in these pools is from the light being refracted by the water (similar to the water droplets that refract the light of the sun and produce blue sky).

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Notes from Yellowstone #6

I’d forgotten how quickly two days off can go. Thursday was a good day to clean up the Hovel, from stem to stern. Then laundry. Then some internet time to catch up with the happenings in the world outside of Yellowstone. Yeah… Well. Enough of that.

Yesterday, Friday, it was time to get some groceries and other supplies. For workers in Yellowstone, the choices are West Yellowstone MT, Gardiner MT, Cody WY, or Jackson/Jackson Hole WY. Each of these choices is a 2-hour drive or better from Grant Village, where I am living. Each of these drives is charming. Going to West Yellowstone would take me past Old Faithful and the Upper and Lower Geyser Basins. Gardiner means a drive through Hayden Valley (where most of the bear sightings are happening and where I saw the bear my first day, only a few hundred feet off the roadway) and along the Yellowstone River up through Mammoth Hot Springs. The drive to Cody takes one over the northern edge of Yellowstone Lake and over some beautiful mountain passes. This time, however, I opted for Jackson and a drive through Grand Teton National Park. No major wildlife sightings, just a few weasels and squirrels, and maybe a fox, but the scenery on the drive…

Les Grand Tetons. Named by a lonely French fur trapper, reminded of his favorite part of the female anatomy. These are a young woman’s breasts — pointy and perky — dominating the western skyline for miles, catching the early morning light on their pointiest parts, and admiring their own relfection in Lewis Lake and along the Lewis River. They occasionally played peekaboo using the Lodgepole Pines as fingers for peeking through. How horrible that I have to drive two hours for groceries.

I took my time, yesterday. When I got to Jackson, I drove around it a bit to get a feel for the place. It’s a typical mountain tourist town. Prices are higher for everything. It has charm, no question (although I prefer Silverton CO for its more rustic and less dense features). Jackson also had at least one decent taquieria: Hatch. Excellent food. I had the tacos carnitas with beans and rice. The green chile sauce (Hatch, natch) is the bomb. I had a margarita — ok, I confess, I had two. 

I got hardware supplies, a haircut, and a pedicure – without polish, but a treat nonetheless for my hard working feet. They deserved a little pampering, and a rub! I got a nice lunch overlooking Broadway, the main artery through town. I got a nice walk through the shopping district and scored a warm vest in an acceptable Navy blue I can wear with my work uniform. It’s a men’s vest, but had more pockets for pens and notebooks and cameras and such AND was 50% off. I got groceries. I got gas. And I got back on the road to Yellowstone, for that perfectly horribly drive :-D with the Tetons now on my left in the late afternoon sun; the sun now joining the mountains in the peekaboo through the Lodgepoles.

By the time I got home and got all the stuff put away and the dogs attended to, I had no juice left for writing or reading news. But I did make time to sit for a moment in the truck in the parking lot of the closest employee wifi source to collect my mail. A note from the kids, perhaps. A report from my favorite weatherman, who keeps me apprised of all kinds of weather through all kinds of weather (my unfair weather friend). A love note from one of my sisters in life and in spirit? I can always count on one of them. There is always a little something, or sometimes a long note filled with news for me to bring back to the Hovel to read and read again. 

I hope they all know that they can always, likewise, count on me. Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?

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Notes from Yellowstone #5

Work. Cleaning the showers and the laundry room is an amazing workout. Now, I need every bit of the upcoming 2 1/2 days off to recover! The “coffeebreak” nearly killed me. I left the building at 11:05 pm on Tuesday night — I’m still learning the tasks and definitely not as fast as I once was. By the time the dogs were walked around the camper (no forays after dark) and I was fed (fig newtons and milk, a balanced meal) and showered, it was after midnight. I had to be in to work NLT 6:45. So, I fell right to sleep.


Because that’s the way our bodies work. Right? Not exactly. More importantly, my mind needed a little time to come down from the frenetic pace of the week. When I finally did drop off, I had dreams of bookkeepers and accountants holding me hostage until I confessed that my cash drawer was over (or short)…I have no idea. When the alarm on my phone went off at 0530, there were deer and very aggressive fawns in the dream, and I wasn’t faring too well.

Wednesday was a busy day. We gave a LOT of showers during the morning. And, like the rest of the team, I ran the register, let people into showers, kept those showers clean and supplied, kept the laundry spiffy, and sold ice and ice cream. It’s my summer job in Yellowstone. :-)

I’ve made it more than a week! I don’t think they’re going to fire me right away, so I may get to stay another week, and maybe another after that, and perhaps another.

Flowers. I’m embarrassed to say that the flower I mistook for Queen Anne’s Lace is a white yarrow with the yummiest aroma. It’s the prevailing scent in the air up here on the hill above the lake. It’s quite unlike the yarrow I grow in my Colorado garden. It’s smaller, more delicate, and intoxicating. The purple is lupine. I should have known. My mother’s favorite wildflower growing wild all around me during her birthday month. With them, and the goatsbeard (salsify), I am up to three! Now I want to find out their medicinal applications. I know yarrow can be used in tinctures, but I don’t know if this heavenly sweet variety is the best for that application. And no internet to waste my days on — starting in one corner of my mind and ending up in another.

There have been thunderclouds bumping around us this afternoon. I’m pretty respectful of the potential of that kind of weather at this altitude. And I am also afraid of lightening. A couple of close calls. So we are staying inside for a while.

Listening to the wind in the pines.

Enjoying a Moose Drool

The simple pleasures of a hard working woman.

I’ve come to the realization that The Hovel is not level. We’re not going to lay any blame here, but an idiot installed the level master on the front of the 5er, and then relied on it. And I am living with her.

I know what needs to be done. I just dread doing it in a campground that is becoming increasingly populated by seasonal workers of all sorts. It’s a bit a of pride thing. (Or trying to prove things to myself, of course. Same thing)

In the meantime, I get annoyed at cupboards that want to shut themselves on my head, or open wide, slamming against themselves. Also, when I am very tired, it plays with my equilibrium.

Maybe Friday, after folks around me have left for work…

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Notes from Yellowstone #4

Monday, about 0830, and I have to be at work in a couple of hours. It’s only a four-hour shift for me today. It will be lovely to see the sun set! Over the west side of the lake. With a beer!

This morning has been one of the prettiest since I’ve been here. It’s already been a week! I took the dogs for a long hard walk after their breakfast, and before mine. We did our cool down out on the helipad, overlooking Yellowstone Lake. Blue, blue, blue sky with wisps and puffs of clouds. No dew (for the third day). Lake as calm as a baby’s breath. And the alpine meadow showing off her summer glory of wildflowers and tasseled grasses. Some of the tassels are deep red, almost a bordeaux. 

I have no need for a garden outside my door. I have already been given one with Queen Anne’s Lace and some others whose names I will have to get to know. For now, they are purple and pink and yellow and orange and big puff ball that isn’t a dandelion, but looks like one on steroids.

Critter note: The chipmunks, and other small critters that come around the Hovel, are apparently driving the dogs out of what little minds they possess. Gidget has gone full-blown terrier on me. I have to really power walk them for a bit (with lots of redirection on a very short leash) before we can slow down and let the leash out – all 6 feet of it – and enjoy a walk. It’s taking them a little time to adapt to the new schedule(s) and the changes in their environment. Imagine that.

Work wasn’t as brutal yesterday, but still pretty challenging. I only had to do the showers once, during the afternoon cleaning. I got to clean up the laundry room last night while the others did the showers. It was made less difficult by all the efforts of the other team members, throughout the day. These folks are mostly pretty grown up, and with all of us looking out for each other and working together, everyone’s job is easier at the end of the day. It would be nice if government worked that way.

I’m meeting my team mates, one by one. We are, most of us, past 50. A few of us past 60. A couple of us, by a pretty good bit. Kids are grown, gone, with families of their own, and they are here, living the dream. Banking a little to pay to haul themselves to the next dream location.

Late day note: I didn’t exactly see the sun set. I lay down for a nap and woke up at dusk. The sound of the breeze through the pines, like waves on a beach, knocked me right out. It was a wonderful nap!

The dogs and I had a couple of nice walks today. They were sniffing out chipmunks and I was sniffing the air. The air up here smells like honey. No air pollution and the essence of wildflower and sweet grasses and pine fills the air. It is a fabulous aroma. Mountain Meadow. So much more nuanced than a dryer sheet or candle. And no chemical aftertaste.

Tonight, the crescent moon joined the bears above the trees.


Re work: Today starts the hell shift. I work from 2-11 pm today and 6:45-3 pm tomorrow. If I can fall asleep on the washers in the laundry room, and forget about going home to bed, feeding and walking the dogs, or eating breakfast, I can get 7 hours and 45 minutes of sleep. This is a test. I’ll know by Thursday morning (the first of two days off) if I can possibly last the summer.

Re pictures: I took some more today. Mostly of the wildflowers and grasses. They are so beautiful in the early morning light. I have to get a wildflower guide so I can learn their names. It goes on the shopping list.  And again — the air smells as sweet as honey. Intoxicating.

Re critters: Mine are not the only dogs in camp. (Note to son: Also not the worst behaved) We are working on some training while we are here, and they are coming along pretty well. If I can get them out for at least one good walk during a time of day when the chipmunks are active, so they can “hunt” the fence-line (the length of their leash), they are happy campers. 

Two weeks

without TV

without the morning news shows

the morning noise shows

breaking noise

6 o’clock noise

10 o’oclock noise

without the news noise

nothing to be angry about

nothing to be scared of

Except bears

of course

Bears can kill you. sgf///7/21/15

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Notes from Yellowstone #3

Pictures. Some of you have been asking for pictures, please. I understand the craving. Especially those of you who are highly visual, artists attuned to the nuances of light and color; space and perspective. I have a little Fuji that I carry with me every day now. I’m trying to take a few pictures every day. 

The deal is that I have relatives and friends who are real, honest-to-goodness photographers. Like my cousin, Arla Ruggles, who does fabulous portraits of the Nevada landscape and its denizens (particularly the wild horses that she is so passionate about protecting). Or my friend, Sam Corum, who is busy documenting history through his camera lenses in Washington DC and Ferguson and Charlotte. They and others like them can tell stories with their pictures, using light and color and space and perspective.

I’m not a photographer. I’m a writer telling a story, using and honing the tools of the trade…finding my “voice.” Playing with words, sounds, rhymes, light and color, space, and perspective. Photographs never tell the whole story, for me. In Zion National Park, I became quite frustrated with my lack of photographic ability. The place was stunning. Majestic. And I couldn’t get a single photograph that captured any of it. A real artist (with a real camera) might have done it. I’m not that artist.

I’m a writer. Whether I am a good writer, or not, I write. There will be photos. As soon as I find the guru to help me throught getting them from computer into blogware, there will be photos.

Work. I went back last evening, working a six-hour shift that included closing the facility for the night. This meant cleaning the showers and toilets once again, to make them sparkly for the early morning risers. It was a little easier this time. I wasn’t in competition with my 27-year old self. I still fell into bed and slept pretty hard afterwards. I go back in at 2 today…until 11. That means I get to participate in the great hose down, twice in a single day. I’m so jazzed. Yeah. We’ll see how that goes. I have dreams of being trapped in ropy strands of long wet hair and congealed soap. It makes me want to shave my head again.

Last night, I got home in the pitch black dark of night. The stars were brilliant, but they don’t do much to light a path, and there are very few area lights in Yellowstone. The dogs’ wee walk was only as far as the vacant campsites across the road from The Hovel. All the while I am furtively searching the edge of the wood for bears with my little LED flashlight. I don’t really know what I would have done if that thin beam of light had actually come across anything. Scream? Jump at it, shouting “Booga! Booga!”? Perhaps I should get some bear spray? Then I can juggle it with the leash, the poop bags, the flashlight, and two mindless little dogs while I get eaten by a bear.

By the way, there are still jobs at Yellowstone for this summer. You won’t get rich. Pay starts at $8.30 an hour for housekeeping jobs. Camper Services is a little better at $8.60; however there are no tips left behind by showerers and those doing laundry. (Unless you count the used soap left in the dishes or the bandaids left on the shower room floors. And the hair. My dear Lord. The hair. ) There are deductions for taxes, the campsite or dorm room, electricity using at the campsite, and the company-contracted medical service provider. I figure I will clear at least a dollar two ninety eight by the end of the pay period. It’s like we used to say in the Air Force, “If you’re in it for the money, you’ve picked the wrong career.”

Most of the people working here have been doing this seasonally for more than a few years, because they love it here. It allows them to live in the wilderness for more than a day and a half. It gives them time to sit on the water’s edge and watch a storm coming across the lake in time to get inside to shelter. Meteorology learnt by observation. Dozens of observations.

I met a beautiful young woman serving at one of the village dining facilities the other night. She is spending her third summer at Yellowstone from her home in Prague, Czech Republic. Her English was exquisite, unlike my Czech. I speak none. We had a nice chat. I was fortunate to have visited Prague for a week in 2003, as well as a couple of the little villages nearby. I was building training for a US client who spent a lot of time traveling. It was early November, and the weather was becoming a little dreary and definitely frigid. I was grateful for the new jacket that I’d hoped was not a needless splurge. It was a lifesaver on that trip!

It’s now my utility jacket

and I’ve left it behind

of course

opting for a fashionable cute black number

that renders me invisible

in the dark.

Did I tell you?

It gets dark

really dark

coming home late at night

when there is no moon

to penetrate these trees.

Creeping carefully

along the audacious trail

threading through looming lodgepole giants

headlights swallowed by the forest

Would there be a bear?

And there was



Major and Minor

walking the shifting spears

at the tops of the trees.       sgf///7/19/15

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Notes from Yellowstone #2

Critters. It’s one of the things that keeps people coming to Yellowstone. The vast park contains some of the best specimens of North American wildlife to be found anywhere on the continent. My friend, John, has visited twice a year for more than a dozen years, and it’s the wildlife that brings him back.

I emphasize, this is wild life. These animals are not passive zoo animals waiting for their scheduled meals. People get killed in Yellowstone every year because they ignore this fact. This year, it’s been silly tourists trying to get selfies with bison. The bison win. Every time.

Yesterday morning, when I took the dogs out for the morning wee walk, we almost walked right up on two elk cows resting in the the wildflowers between the two helipads where we have been watching the sun rise over the eastern rim of the caldera. I saw them just in time to move the dogs in another direction before either of them smelled or saw the elk. They have very little brains, these dogs, and they’d have gotten us all killed.

Besides the elk and bison, bears and wolves, moose and squirrel, there are other critters in Yellowstone that most folks don’t see, like the snowshoe hare which I saw out my window yesterday, eating the seed tops off the grasses behind my Hovel. Or the long-tailed weasel that has been sneaking past the dormitory door as I write this.

There are also some little critters that folks should probably look out for. Deer mice, for instance, of Hanta virus fame. Day before yesterday, I found my roll of paper towels had been nibbled on at one end and there were a few small rodent droppings in my silverware drawer. I was laying down new drawer liners when I discovered the tell-tale little specks of poo (about the size of the end of a pencil lead). I immediately went into sanitizing mode, wiping everything down with diluted bleach water (4 oz/1 gal), rewashed and rinsed (in bleach water) all of the silver and utensils that had been exposed, and made a note to order mousetraps from Amazon (my new best friend).

Then, yesterday, I noticed a brownish black spot on one of the sofa cushions. Hmmmm. I had just cleaned and vacuumed on Thursday…then, it moved. A tick! Not a lyme disease carrying deer tick. Nah. This was just a regular old carrier of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever tick. I dispatched it with isopropyl alcohol and treated both of the dogs to some flea/tick medicine/poison.

Now is when a partner would really come in handy. Those end of the day tick checks can be hilariously fun.

This afternoon, I walked the dogs down to the marina. A little over a mile, down and back. So many smells for them to go nuts over, and a very long walk to wear them out, followed by a cold Moose Drool for momma, a little Joni Mitchell and Ingrid Michelson on the stereo, and the critter-filled forest outside my window…life is pretty good here in Yellowstone.

Simplify. Simplify. HDThoreau

Yesterday morning, before I went out to find some wifi and check my mail (and order mousetraps), I decided to change some things to make my life simpler and leave me more time for observing the things around me, rather than looking for stuff.

I’ve ditched the purse. I’ve ditched most of the crap that was in the purse, and in my wallet (or at least put it somewhere where I can get to it if I need it). Then I ditched the wallet. I’m carrying a small spiral note pad, a pen, my little Fuji camera, and my cell phone with a case that holds the minimum necessary IDs and a few bucks. Everything can be carried in one of the pockets of one of the layers I wear.

The weather is much cooler up here on the lakeside (over 7800′). My furnace (set to 55º) has run every morning. It makes for lovely sleeping, snuggled down under a comforter and looking out at the stars above the treetops outside my bedroom window.

I’ve read the news
I know
about the murders
in Chattanooga
the conviction of the Aurora theater
It’s the same shit
different day
And I’ve decided
at least for this summer
it’s not my shit
I don’t have to let any of it
stick to me
The 24-hour doom and gloom news cycle
can go on
without me
for a while.
I have another source of entertainment
that nourishes my spirit
and I am not inviting any vampires
to the feast.


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Notes from Yellowstone #1

Not proving myself to anyone
only myself, of course
and it’s true
I’m a hard woman
as he said
but not so hard
you know.
I found a spot for him,
and kept it safe.
and warm.
not proving myself 
to anyone
That’s what this summer
is about
Except I worked so hard
at proving myself
to myself
of course
I nearly killed
the very first day
of course
proving to myself
that this is what I wanted
this is what I needed
I can do this
MORE.     sgf///7/16/15

I worked my freaking ass off yesterday. I haven’t worked so hard for so many hours at a time since I was a young mother with two toddlers and a full-time job in the Air Force. I bounced back pretty quickly in those days. Forty years and a joint replacement later, I try to avoid bouncing. I could end badly. It can lead to a trip to the hospital in an ambulance. I know. I’ve made that trip a couple three times. I’m over it. 

But before I tell you about Yellowstone, let me tell you about the trip.  I had planned my route pretty well, with no day over 240 or so miles. On Wednesday I drove from Denver to Northwest Nebraska to see a friend. I took two days at Agate Fossil Beds in Nebraska to enjoy a personalized tour of the park. A dear friend from high school, now a professor at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, is spending his summer at Agate Fossil Beds National Park (AFBNP) as a National Park Service Ranger Interpreter. He was actually my inspiration for the summer job in Yellowstone. He aimed a little higher than I did and is having a wonderful summer immersing himself in the history of the place and teaching it to the visitors. He will not be cleaning bathrooms and showers.

By the way, if you’ve never been to AFBNP, it is a fascinating trip with something to interest almost everyone in a family group, from the geologist to the paleantologist to the American history buff. The museum at the Visitor’s Center contains a priceless collection (The Cook Family Collection) of artifacts documenting their long association with Chief Red Cloud and his family. One treasure included is the handmade quill emblazoned shirt that the Chief wore for a portrait. The portrait itself is also on display with the collection.

The trip was not without a humbling experience. The RV spots in the guest parking were wonderfully level concrete pads that were nice and wide and long enough to accomodate The Hovel (the name I have given my home on wheels) plus Old Blue (my trusty truck which happens to be blue). Unfortunately. I am still pretty new at this thing, and I don’t have a lot of experience backing up the trailer. Make that once. And my cousin was directing me. I pulled way past the space and tried to back in. Nope. Pulled forward a little more. Tried again. Nope. Pulled forward again, trying to get myself straightened out. This happened over a half dozen times, until I realized I was going to run out of road, I had pulled so far forward. I had to back up to the first of the two available spots from where I was. I practiced backing up in a straight line for close to 40 minutes. My right knee was screaming angry with me. I tried another six or so times to back into that spot. Now my left hip was pissed off as well. And that’s when the UPS driver showed up. The first of several angels who have appeared along the way. He backed it in like he knew what he was doing, because he did.

On Friday, I drove to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. Again, it was a reasonable distance and stopping-off point, and it’s Devil’s Tower. Old Blue worked pretty hard in the hot sun that day, pulling The Hovel up some long climbs, and I had to learn her limits. I began watching the transmission temperature very carefully and pulling off, before it got too warm, to let things cool down. I was really happy to have made reservations ahead of time with the KOA here. It is a prime spot, with almost every campsite within view of Devil’s Tower (An unfortunate bastardization of the terms used by the native Americans when speaking reverently of the landmark. There is a movement afoot to rename it: Bear Lodge). Another big advantage was that my reservation assured me a pull-through campsite. 

On Saturday, we pressed onward to Garryowen, Montana, near the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn. All of these sites were on the side of a hilltop, but were fairly level. The park never filled completely, and was a quiet spot with an occasional train going through a mile or so away. I had reserved two nights here, thinking it would be a good time to settle into The Hovel a little bit, maybe go out to the battle site.

I was still waiting to hear where I would be going in Yellowstone from the company employing me. I finally did. On Sunday, the 12th. I was on a track to Gardiner, Montana (the north entrance to Yellowstone) and my job was to be in Grant Village…at the southern end of the park…separated by 80 miles of challenging road which crosses the Continental Divide at least twice on one side of the loop and once on the other. 

It was a toasty day and Old Blue had been pulling The Hovel with all of its stuff for 220 miles over hill and dale. She was hot and tired. I had to pull her over about four times during that last 80 miles, back into Wyoming, before pressing onward and mostly upward.  It was 7:30 before The Hovel was expertly backed into the campsite by a Marine Devil Dog and former truck driver. Yeah. I know. I really should learn how to do this. And I will. I promise. I have a lot of things I’m learning right now. Some of them have to take a lower priotiy. I don’t have to do it all at once. Realizing this truth has been liberating.

Over the past week, before I got to Yellowstone, I was practicing hitching and unhitching and setting up the camper every day. I made mistakes. One or two of them could have ended disasterously. Like when I thought I had put Old Blue in park and she was really in reverse. The didn’t. End disasterously. I have a lot of good thoughts carrying me. I got here.

And when I got here, it was cold, pouring rain. I put on my trusty canary yellow poncho and set up The Hovel for the two-month stay on a hill that overlooks the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. Where the early morning mists and low clouds on the other rim produce the most delicately skyblue pink and orange sunrises I’ve ever seen, before the sun pops like a cork over that eastern edge of the caldera that holds the lake waters, source of the Yellowstone River that runs from here into Montana and into North Dakota, joining the Missouri.

Did you catch that word, caldera, in the last paragraph? Yes, my friends. I’m living on the rim of an ancient volcano. How cool is that?

On Tuesday, I was required to report in and get badged, ID’ed, and uniformed. Where? Why Gardiner, of course. Another 160 miles, roundtrip; but this time, without The Hovel weighing her down, Old Blue was back to her old self and performed flawlessly. I left Grant about 6:45 am for the trip up to Gardiner, taking the eastern portion of the Grand Loop over Dunraven Pass to avoid the 20+ miles of construction and terrible horrible no good very bad dirt road and traffic on the western portion. We did that yesterday. Got the t-shirt.

That 80 miles in the early morning mist captured my heart forever. Was it the sun playing peek-a-boo through the mists on the lake? Was it the massive bull Elk with the mossy 6 by 6 rack suddenly sauntering alongside my truck? Was it the bear ambling up a hill covered with wildflowers? It was all of these things, and the smell of sulfur leaking from the restless earth, and the clear blue sky that fills with stars every night. And the darkness of the night. And the quiet.

I’m so glad I did this. This is what I needed. Even the hard work, and it is very hard work, promises to either kill me or make me stronger. I’m counting on stronger.  sgf///7/16/15

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Independence Day

Last night, I had a hard time getting to sleep. In the next few days, I’ll be taking off on a whole new adventure and my mind and body have been fairly buzzing with the excitement, anticipation, and anxiety of it. I accepted a job at Yellowstone National Park for the rest of the summer. It’s not a glamorous job, in fact it’s anything but glamorous; however, it’s at one of the most beautiful places in the United States or maybe the world. I get to stay there, with the wildlife and rivers and mudpots and geysers until the seasons begin to change. That’s pretty glamorous all on its own. Yellowstone is one of those places that shows up on bucket lists all over the world, and I get to live there!

That’s only part of the adventure. In order to do this, I had to have a camper that was self-contained and that I could comfortably live in (with the pups) for the duration. I found a wonderful 15 year old 5th wheel that had been well-maintained and that met the approval of my very discerning son. It is almost twice as long as any camper or trailer I have ever pulled. It’s a full ten feet longer than what I originally began looking for. I had to learn how to hitch it, drive it,  unhitch it, and set it up BY MYSELF (with full props going to my son and my cousin for their lessons and enormous patience). If anything breaks or goes wrong, I will be the first and most likely the only one available to take care of things. That’s not at all scary.

I’m over-the-moon excited to be living this dream.

I’m also a little terrified. Last night, after I finally got to sleep, I had dreams of being stalked through an RV campground by a psycho chainsaw murderer. (You’ll be proud to know, I took care of his ass with a Mossberg 505 loaded with rock salt and bird shot and my public speaking skills. Dreams are such fun.) 

Other than a couple of trips with my little Skamper camper or the campbulance (Nurse Betty), this will be my first time so completely on my own since my early 20s. That has been a while ago. A good long while ago. No parents or First Sergeant or husband or children to take care of me, only the enormous amounts of love and enthusiastic support of family and friends and complete strangers and The Force. I’m pretty sure it’s all going to be all right.

I’ll be keeping a bit of a journal on the adventure, so check back here now and then for updates; and y’all have a good summer!


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Check This Spot

Ingrid’s Great Southwest Adventure begins tomorrow. It’s Thelma and Louise, only geriatric. And driving a diesel truck instead of a convertible. Katie, bar the door!  

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My Queen.

That’s what he calls me


Or Morgana.

Or Witch.

It’s all true

you know.

I was all of these things.

And these words of endearment

excite electrons in the ether

lights going on and off

a blinking guide

on the road back to myself.

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