"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Night Spin Cycle

With my handy map by my side I spent the day in grocery and discussed with guests the best place to spy moose, bears and wolves (you don't get that kind of service at Walmart). Weekends are slower than weekdays so the pace is slower, which in turn makes the days seem longer. Most people are traveling back home from their vacations on Saturday and Sundays.

I really lose track of the days here. Saturday and Sundays mean nothing to me, they are no longer a weekend. They are just another day. However, Saturday and Sundays are nice days to have off as the surrounding towns have festivals that can then be taken in. My days off have been Mondays and Tuesdays but my supervisor, Jack, and his wife Rosie, wanted me to go with them to the Bar R Ranch for a cookout and show which only happens on weekends. So Jack went to the store manager and had my days off switched to Friday and Saturdays. That will be nice as I wanted to see the Pow Wow in Cody this summer.

The employee recreation department is having a talk about wolves and bears on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Everyone is excited and is planning on going. Last night they had a fly fishing demonstration but Carl already told me he would teach me so I passed on that one. The rec. dept. also has hikes and stuff. Tomorrow morning I am going to try and catch the ranger led hike down at the canyon edge.

After dinner tonight I got real wild and crazy and did my laundry. While my laundry was drying I headed off to Hayden and spotted a mousing coyote on the way. He was pretty cute with his ears perked up and his head tilting from side to side as he listened to rodents under the dirt. In Hayden I finally got to set up my new tripod and I got to watch a wolf trotting around in the distance. There seemed to be bear sightings all over the valley but I drove past them because parking was limited.

Wildlife is really moving into the Canyon Village. I was sitting at a picnic table outside the back of the store during a break yesterday and watched a pair of huge bison lumber down the road. Everyone needs to be super careful driving at night as the bison tend to walk down the middle of the road and they are hard to see in the dark. The hole in the dorm building was covered over so I don't know what happened to the Rocky Mountain Chickadees. I hope they found a new place to build a nest. There are lots of ground squirrels running around the meadow behind the dorm. They do a lot of chattering and chasing. It's quite a show.

Wildlife Sightings:

Grizzly: 25
Wolf: 12
Coyote: 4
Moose: 1
Big Horn Sheep: 2
Black Bear: 3

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hungry Like the Wolf

I spent most of the day stocking shelves for the gift department. It's actually quite fun to search through the warehouse for the items that need to be put out. I also did a bit of cashiering in the grocery department. It's always busy there and will only get busier when the campground opens.

After work I headed to Gardiner and stopped at the Yellowstone Association store there. It's large and has a great selection of books. Being a Delaware North employee I get a 30% discount on everything in the store. I bought a Yellowstone Association sweatshirt, a book on wolves and one on bison. It was then off to visit the old Gardiner cemetery. It's always interesting to walk through old west cemeteries.

I decided to head back to Canyon via Tower Junction. It was a good call because half way between Mammoth and Tower I got to watch a pack of 7 wolves feast on a carcass (possibly an elk). Until tonight I have only seen lone wolves so seeing a pack was a thrill. I'll have to check my wolf map to see what pack they belonged to. There was quite an assortment of colors: grey to black.

Baby elk are beginning to be born. Last night there were 2 babies in Hayden Valley and I suspect that there were more born since then. There is still only 1 bison calf that I've seen there but the bison are still coming in. When the snow is gone in the higher elevations it will be easier for the calves to cross the mountains to get to Hayden.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Beauty and the Beast

Living so far from any sort of regular civilization has become a group effort. Whenever someone goes to Bozeman or Cody the word is spread, money exchanged and items are picked up that are too expensive or not found in the park. The same goes for car rides. People arrived here by bus and those with cars give rides in the evening to those without vehicles to watch the wildlife.

After dinner last night I gave Brandon a ride to Lamar Valley, a place he hadn't been to yet. Upon arriving there we noticed a rather large group of people lining the roadway and parked in a pull off. There were families with children and what appeared to be professional photographers with cameras aimed at a tiny baby bison standing by the shore of the Lamar River. Earlier in the day during a river crossing with its mother the baby had been washed down the river and separated from the herd. Here it stood cold, lonely, scared and hungry. To make matters worse a coyote was about 10 feet away from it. Everyone was waiting to snap their shutters when the coyote attacked the baby. I understand that this happens all of the time in the wild, and it is an important part of the food chain, but I was surprised how many people wanted to actually watch the moment when the baby was attacked and killed. I, for one, did not want to stick around and watch it all unfold. The coyote had been there for hours and had actually curled up into a ball and was sleeping. In my mind I made the whole scenario into a Walt Disney movie ~ one where the coyote befriends the baby and both live happily every after as good buddies. This, I know, is a fallacy. After leaving we spotted a wolf heading that direction, a very dangerous situation for both the baby bison and coyote (wolves kill coyotes).

After cruising Lamar we headed back to Canyon with a short stop at the road to the petrified tree (which we also saw) to watch a moose. This is treat as moose populations have been declining in the park though there are quite a few sightings by Cooke City and on the road to Cody.

The two tripods I brought for my camera and spotting scope have been trashed. My floor supervisor, Jack, offered to sell me one of his nice used ones. I leaped at the chance and I'm now the new owner of a very nice tripod.

After cake and socializing with everyone in the EDR I took my new tripod with my scope to Hayden Valley. Right after I set it all up I had to take it down when a huge bull bison wandered my direction and threw a temper tantrum when a truck drove to fast right next to him. He huffed and puffed and snorted and tossed his hulking body all over the place. He put on quite a show but it didn't even occur to me to grab my video camera. I drove further and spotted a couple grizzlies and then the lightening and thunder started so I headed back to Canyon. Jack and his wife Rosie (my auditor) have invited me to join them on wildlife watching excursions. I won't pass up a chance to go with them since Jack just bought a huge spotting scope that I wouldn't mind getting a chance to peak through. But then I'll feel so inadequate with my puny little scope (which I actually love and have nicknamed 'Spot').

Wildlife Sightings:

Grizzly Bear: 25
Black Bear: 3
Big Horn Sheep: 2
Coyotes: 3
Martens: 2
Wolves: 4
Moose: 1
And lets not forget the bison, elk, snowshoe hares, and antelope: Priceless

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ice Cream

Not much to report on the job front. I worked the cash register in confections again today. I work right next to big slabs of fudge. Good thing I really don't like fudge or else I would be waddling by the end of summer. But when it comes to the guest I gush over which of the flavors is my absolute favorite (though I have never even tasted any of them). While the fudge is on my right side the ice cream is on my left side. Ice cream is good but I have not tasted it yet. I don't scoop the ice cream but to be honest it is a really tough job that no one enjoys. Last year a lady came to work in the store and scooped ice cream for 1 week and quit. Her wrist really started to cause her a lot of pain. There is a certain technique that needs to be used to help prevent wrist pain. My advise to everyone is to be nice to ice cream scoopers!

After dinner Carl and I went over to Madison to see some bison by the Madison River. The park service had everyone who was driving the road pull over to the side and turn of their engines as they once again herded to bison and their babies away from the park border with West Yellowstone. This is the 3rd time that I am aware of, there might of been more. The herding process caused a 2 hour delay on the road but it is quite a show for anyone parked on the side. I know I enjoyed it when I got caught up in the herding. Though Carl and I did see some bison with an intermingling of elk there was only 2 babies to be found. Hopefully all the mama bison escorted their younguns further to the interior of the park ~ and hopefully they are heading to Hayden Valley.

While on the topic of Hayden Valley I did my nightly drive through there. The bison are really moving in! As well as the elk herds. Yippee! The baby elk are usually born the first week in June so we are not too far off. I took video of a big bison swimming across the Yellowstone River and then took the time to watch a flock of birds swarm over Elk Antler Creek. They remind me of a sheet as they all fly in unison.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day Off

With the day off again I drove over Dunraven Pass and over to Mammoth. Not much to report from that drive as far as wildlife goes. I stopped at the Yellowstone Association bookstore and bought a book about Native American History in Yellowstone. It will be an interesting read when I finish the book I am currently reading about grizzly bears.

I did a load of laundry this afternoon. I won't go into much detail about that since, as you probably assumed correctly, was rather boring and mundane. But clothes get dirty in Yellowstone, as they do elsewhere, and it is a chore that must be done.

After dinner I did my nightly drive to Hayden Valley and watched a couple herds of elk and some solitary bison. I decided to once again tackle Dunraven but I first got to drive behind a bull bison who meandered down the road in my lane in front of my car. I do believe that they know exactly what they are doing and rather enjoy stopping traffic behind them. Oh well, I'm in no hurry.

Once on Dunraven Pass I stopped at an overlook that I refer to The Caldera Overlook. There is a sign there that is sort of a map that shows a person where the rim of the caldera is when they look out across the landscape. The Grand Tetons can also be seen from there. And it was also my good fortune to see a huge grizzly bear down the mountain from me digging through the snow (grizz sightings: 23). This was my first opportunity to actually snap a few photos of a grizzly with my 35mm. I also got some great video of him pushing and pulling the snow around. My video comes complete with the auditory of a family pleading with their mother not to hike any further down the mountain toward the bear.

I have been aware for quite a few years that people may read the warning brochures handed out by the park service but there are quite a few who disregard the warnings. When a bear or a bison can charge a person at 35 mph it doesn't take many strides for them to reach someone. Sometimes I do wonder exactly who the intelligent species is.

The new person who was supposed to start today.........well, didn't start today. He actually called in sick on his first day!!! He had that notorious sickness known as the 'booze flu'.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Troops

The troops drug themselves into work while I had the day off. We did manage to gain 1 new employee who came in today. We started off the season short when 3 people didn't show up and 1 quit on the first day. Though it is incredibly busy and there have been some technical difficulties I am enjoying it.

I started the day by going to Fishing Bridge to check out the Bargain Loft in their Yellowstone General Store. Awesome deals. Then I went over Dunraven Pass and over to Lamar Valley. It was so busy there that I only drove half way through and turned back. Carl had told me this morning that he was going fishing by the bridge over the Yellowstone River by Tower Junction so I found his truck in a turnout (right after I saw a Big Horn Sheep (a big ram) right by the side of the road). I took his picture from the bridge and then hiked down to the edge of the river and ate my lunch with him.

The river is moving fast and full of rapids. During my lunch I heard some honking and looked into the middle of the river and saw a Canadian goose floating through the rapids while managing to to keep her brood of fuzzy little goslings together. They were really being tossed by the waves.

Hayden Valley was pretty empty tonight. Just a few bison laying around and some herds of elk in the distance. The winter of 2008 was very hard on the bison herds. 1,700 left the park and headed into West Yellowstone and were immediately rounded up and sent for slaughter. That spring the park service then did aerial surveillance to count the bison and had found that 1,000 had starved to death. 2,700 is a lot of bison to lose in one winter and it will take a few years to build the herds back up.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Welcome To My Nightmare

This is one day that I am glad is over. We are severely understaffed and with the holiday weekend we were swamped. With 20 people lined up to be checked out there is only one thing that can be expected.........technical difficulties with the register. I was moved throughout the store when my register had a meltdown. I went from the bull pen to groceries and then to confections. The register in confections had a glitch where I had to hand enter every credit card. A real pain when there is a long line. And of course there was the issues with running out of coins and having to locate a supervisor. Every employee was dragging by the end of the day.

There was an accident at Norris Junction 12 miles to the west of Canyon this morning. It was pretty severe and 2 helicopters had to be called in to haul the injured to either Salt Lake City or some place in Idaho. The road was closed for 2 hours. Employees are offered helicopter insurance for about $30 a season. Since YNP is so remote the only way an injured person is taken out of here is by helicopter and can cost up to $20,000.

It started raining right after dinner so my trip through Hayden tonight was a bust. Bears don't care to come out in the rain. So instead I decided to stay in and do my laundry. And that is about all I have the energy for. I'm glad I have tomorrow off.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hustle, Hustle, Hustle

Wheeeeew! The store was very busy today. It was nonstop. Long lines, many guests and a long day of being on my feet. I was cashier in confections instead of working the floor in apparel. I don't mind, I get a lot of contact with the guests. At 5:00 I transfer ed from confections and went to the grocery department for the last hour. It seems that the last hour is busy with last minute food shoppers. Being busy makes the day fly by.

Sad news from Yellowstone. A wolf by Old Faithful had been approaching people including a man on a bike who had to get off the bike and place it between himself and the wolf. Rangers believe that the wolf had been fed by someone over the winter and it began to associate humans with food. Though the wolf was never aggressive it would just get too close to people. The decision was made by the park service that the wolf had to be destroyed. So just a few days ago YNP became 1 wolf less.

Tonight after dinner I made my daily trek up to Hayden Valley and watched a mama bear and her yearling cub. They grazed on grass for awhile and finally took a nap together. Grizzly Bear Sightings: 20

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dunraven Pass Opens

I started out the day by watching a marten running around. Later a snowshare hare showed up. His fur has changed from white to grey except for his two huge white ears. Also, the Rocky Mountain Chickadees were busy pulling more insulation out of the building to add to their nest.

I was assigned to cashier in the bull pen this morning. I was later moved to groceries as that area seems to be incredibly busy. I don't mind either area. Tomorrow I am to work the floor in the apparel department.

Dunraven Pass opened today at noon. After dinner Carl and I took a drive over the pass. Lot's of snow up there still. But on the other side the valley it was almost clear of snow and we watched a black bear for awhile. Lots of elk and bison in the valley also.

Afterwards I turned on the heat in the car and opened the sunroof and cruised Hayden Valley. I watched a large grizzly for awhile and then moved down the road and watched another pair of grizzlies. A bison with a baby was there, which is good news since that was the first bison baby I have seen in the valley this year. As the grass greens up some of the bison will move over the mountains and summer in Hayden. A co-worker told me she saw a baby elk. That is the first one I've heard about, I wasn't planning on seeing any baby elk for another week or so.

2009 Wildlife Count as of May 22:

Grizzlies: 18
Black Bears: 3
Wolves: 3
Martens: 3
Coyotes: 4
Big Horn Sheep: 1
Muskrat: 1 (I almost ran the poor thing over)


I haven't managed to upload any pictures onto the blog yet. Hopefully that will be coming soon. I haven't had the chance to bring my laptop down to the rec. room to see if my Wi Fi is hooked up yet. I'm still using the employee computer but I am told that the Wi Fi really isn't that much quicker.

I have learned that the white wolf that I have a picture of on this site was killed last year by another pack. She was the alpha female of her pack (I'll get back to you later on what pack she was from). The wolf I saw by Canyon earlier this week is from the Molly Pack and the black wolves I have seen in Lamar are from the Slough Creek Pack.

I have become the YNP equivalent of the game show models ~ minus the glitz and glamour. Employees have been instructed not to point at things but rather guide the guests with an open palm. In some countries using the index finger to point is like 'giving the finger'. At first I felt a tiny bit silly doing it but now I'm an old pro. I might just continue using this method from now on. I appear so much more cultured doing it this way....or a flight attendant wannabe.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ice Cream and Fudge

Today I was assigned to cashier in Confections. I helped scoop ice cream and hand out samples of fudge but I mainly ran the cash register. It is a busy area and I don't think I would enjoy being the ice cream scooper in July.

I watched a marten scamper around by the dorms this morning. This was the first time I had ever seen one. Quite entertaining. Also a couple birds found a hole in the side of the building and they take turns flying into it and pulling out insulation for their nest.

This evening after dinner we had a gathering to celebrate birthdays for Jean, Brandon and Carl. We gave them each a Yellowstone picture frame and a card as well as a muffin with a candle. They each told a story about their favorite Yellowstone experience. Jean told about how she met Jane Goodall last year! She also told how last year the Ecuadorian workers told the Columbian workers that the fire alarm was the light switch. Needless to say, rangers, fire trucks and fire fighters showed up that night for what turned out to be a false alarm. Brandon's story was about how he saw a wolf and a grizzly bear just today. Carl told 2 stories about his close encounters with bears.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Today I was cashiering again and I'm getting proficient at it. I was assigned to the grocery department for the day and had a blast at it. Lots of interesting people from all over the world to visit with. Communication can be a barrier at times but we all work through it. I helped a woman from Japan today, she was buying sandwiches for lunch and she had what she assumed was a small carton of milk but it was really whipping cream. I realized that she was going to have a big surprise when she had a gulp with her lunch so I showed her the difference between the milk cartons and the whipping cream cartons.

The Xantara employees are beginning to show up. They work the lodge and restaurant. I was rather annoyed by a young lady buying a bottle of wine with the very last of her money (she admitted that she didn't get paid for another 2 weeks). She was 29 cents too short and insinuated that I should short my till the money. I told her she had 20 minutes until we closed and she could run back to her dorm for more money. Instead she approached our guests asking each one of them for the money. I would of politely put a stop to that but I was swamped at my till and eventually someone gave her the 29 cents. I was not going to start off the summer with them having the attitude that we would let things slide with them.

A group of us went to Hayden after dinner and saw another grizzly. Later at the dorms we heard coyotes yipping and howling so we flew out the door and found them across the road laying on what appears to be their den. It would be great if they had pups, they would be fun to watch tussling around.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Carl asked if I wanted to spend the day searching for animals with him. I gladly accepted. Carl is quite possibly the most incredibly interesting person I have ever met. He retired 6 years ago (he worked in Boulder, CO doing mathematics) and has worked in the park ever since. He has scaled peaks all over the country (he holds a record in Rocky Mountain National Park for the first decent of the north side of a mountain) as well as Devil's Tower (3 times). He wowed me with tales of his close encounters with grizzly and black bears in the park ~ in 34 years visiting YNP he didn't have an encounter until 3 years ago and now carries bear spray whenever he hikes.

The road from Canyon to Lake was closed this morning for 3 days due to a pipe breaking under the road somewhere. So we headed off to Lamar. With 2 more grizzly sightings and 1 wolf sighting under our belts he took me on my very first every hike in YNP. We hiked the Trout Lake Trail which led to a small mountain lake called, you guessed it, Trout Lake. After a lunch of sandwiches and a banana we hiked around the lake.

After the hike we drove up to Tower and watched a female bighorn sheep as it stood on the rock wall next to the road.

Luke, Jeannie, Carl and I spent the evening playing a game of Hearts. Tomorrow I'm back to work. The park is beginning to get busy. This weekend will be the start of the summer season and I'm sure the store will be hustling and bustling until after Labor Day.

The power goes out on a regular basis here. Sometimes it just flickers off and on and sometimes it can go out for hours. We work through it all. The park rangers have informed the residents of Canyon Village to be careful because of the grizzly bears and wolves wandering through the area. I'm always very careful when I leave the rec. room to head back to the dorms after dark. It's all an adventure, I just don't want to be ripped to shreds during the adventure.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Robyn Cries Wolf

With the day off from work I decided to head once again to Hayden Valley this morning. I spent an hour watching 3 grizzlies and chatting with park guests. Hayden Valley is just a few miles south of Canyon. After watching the bears I started to head back to Canyon and about 1 miles south I had to hit my brakes hard when a huge silver wolf trotted out in front of my car. I followed it down the road and across a bridge before it headed off into the woods again. I pulled into a side parking area and soon it emerged from the woods about 50 feet from me and I snapped a couple of pictures (2 of which I deleted because I had the camera on the wrong setting and 1 that is of ok quality). I decided to put together my 35mm for great shots like these and just suck up the processing fee. The digital works great when I have time to prepare for a picture but sudden ones work better with the Cannon.

After my great wolf encounter I headed off to Lamar Valley. Dunraven Pass doesn't open until Friday so have to take the long way there, which west to Norris, north to Mammoth and then east through Tower Junction. Without being able to use the pass it is an extra 30 miles at 35 - 45 mph. Lamar was filled with buffalo, elk and antelope. On my way I passed an idiot standing in the middle of the road within 15 feet of a bull elk which has started to grow his antlers. Some people think Yellowstone is a petting zoo. Anyway, I managed to pull into a pull out and find a wolf den with my spotting scope. I also got to watch a mama grizzly and her two cubs as well as a huge male on another part of the mountain. Very cool.

After dinner I took Patrick and Brandon down to Hayden to see if we could find a grizzly. Brandon hadn't seen one since we started and we all were bound and determined to get him to a place that he could. All 3 of us managed to find a huge male grizzly to watch. My total grizzly sightings for the day was 8.

My 2009 total as of May 18:

Grizzlies: 12
Black Bears: 2
Wolves: 2
Coyotes: 2
Elk, Bison & Antelope: too many to count but loving each sighting

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Store is Open

The store opened today at 1:00. I was assigned to be a cashier today. The cash register is rather intimidating at first but I'm getting a grasp at it. I loved it and had a great time visiting with the guests. The hot water wasn't working yet again today so the Fountain was unable to open. The store hours now are 9 - 6 and will eventually be 7:30 - 9:00 and I will be working split shifts. I have every Monday and Tuesday off.

Tonight is a more relaxing evening. A couple of us decided to stay in and watch the Survivor finale even though we heard of a 'fresh kill' by Madison.

Yellowstone Glossary:

Savage: a Yellowstone employee
fresh kill: a recently killed animal (usually an elk or deer). The carcass will attract bears or wolves. Knowing where fresh kills are helps with wildlife viewing.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Grizzly Bear Delight

This morning I went down to Hayden Valley by myself. I got to watch 3 grizzly bears. I drove back to Canyon and picked up Shirley so that she could come watch them with me.

Today my work day was filled with learning how to work the cash register. I am assured that it won't be as complicated as I am thinking it is. So much to know.

After work 11 of us (Shirley, Lavender, Thom, Carl, Jack, Tracy, Luke, Dave, Craig, Jeannie, and myself) went back to Hayden Valley and watched 2 grizzlies. We decided that Lamar Valley was too far. Then it was a stop at the Devil's Mouth and the Mud Volcano and then it was off to Fishing Bridge to have a picnic dinner.

Carl is great to have along on these adventures as he is a fountain of info. This is his 34th year in the park, and his 6th year working here. Thom is from Vietnam and Tracy and Lavender (their American names) are from China.

We met up with Brandon on his Harley and went and watched a black bear just east of Fishing Bridge. Avoiding the ever present bison on the road we stopped at Hayden again with no luck of seeing any more grizzlies but did manage to spot our friend the coyote again by Canyon. Our night finished up with the ice cream social. It was quite an eventful day.

It's a coyote.....or is it a wolf?

Last night at 11:30 there was quite a racket outside the dorms. Lot's of yipping and howling. Some of us thought it was a coyote while some thought it was a wolf. We decided to say it was a wolf, much more exciting.

How does an employee get fired from YNP? The fastest way is to relieve yourself into Old Faithful. Yup, a couple knuckleheads decided to do just that the other night. They got caught because of the webcam that films Old Faithful. I'm sure their release from employment is accompanied by a nice hefty federal fine.

The boiler for the store has been broken so there has been no hot water in the store. They shut off all the water yesterday. This is a problem especially for the Fountain (food service area). Without water they won't be able to open tomorrow. Thank goodness the dorms have hot water.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Today there were meetings. The first was called Green Path. It was about recycling, using chemicals and protecting the environment. The second was called Guest Path. That one was about guest relations and Service Recovery (how to help an unhappy guest be a happy guest).

L: Listen
A: Apologize
S: Solve
T: Thank

Basically, it is not saying what you really think to a disgruntled guest. Always keep a smiling or concerned look on your face.

There will be 2 carloads and 11 people heading to Lamar Valley tomorrow after work. We had a dilemma, to go to our employee ice cream social or head out to Lamar (which is about 40 miles from here on winding mountain roads). An ice cream social sounded great but with the store opening in a couple days a group of us decided we better go to Lamar while we still could. With everyone being on different shifts in a couple weeks time is slipping by for some of us to get together.

My Wi Fi is still not hooked up so I am unable to posts pictures. I've got some great ones which will be coming soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beginning Work

While wasting 4 hours between check-in and orientation on Tuesday I drove around some more in the park. I had to pull over to the side of the road as the YNP Rangers on horseback herded the buffalo further into the interior of the park. It was quite amazing to watch a huge herd of bison running straight toward the car only to veer off at the last moment.

I have been assigned to the apparel department. I have spent the past couple of days folding and putting away thousands of t-shirts, hats, socks, sweatshirts, etc. I have gotten to know almost all of my co-workers and enjoy them all. Our work hours are 8:00 until 4:30 with an hour off for lunch. Our store opens at 1:00 on Sunday afternoon. I am quite amazed at how many people here have either lived in or know someone who lives in Minnesota (Grand Forks, Crookston, Alexandria).

A few of us took a trip to Hayden Valley last night and apparently drove right past a pack of 7 wolves, but we missed seeing them ourselves. We also have a couple resident grizzlies in Canyon Village as well as a couple wolves that roam the area. I have yet to see either but chances are good as the bears like to walk around the parking lot. On Saturday night a large group of us are planning on heading up to Lamar Valley with a sandwich dinner. We are all itching to see the wildlife there.

I have been in both snow and rain storms. At times it does both, my first experience with thundersnow. The lightening is quite amazing and its interesting to watch the different types of weather come over the mountains.

Tonight a couple of my co-workers taught me how to play a card game called Hand & Foot. We had a great time and we will probably be playing it quite a bit this summer. They are a couple of ladies, Shirley and Jeanette, who are on the same dorm floor as myself (there are only 3 of us in our wing at this time). I was asked if I would rather have the 'young person' dorm wing or the 'older lady' dorm wing. 'Older Lady' won hands down and Shirley, Jeanette and I are become fast friends.

Monday, May 11, 2009

In Yellowstone the Bison Rule the Road

I spent the entire day driving through the park. I've been in quite a few bison jams. The baby bison are great fun to watch. One little fella was scratching his ear with his hind foot and fell right over. I came in the north entrance and into Mammoth. My instincts then directed me to Lamar Valley. I have great instincts as that is where I saw a black WOLF!! It was harassing a herd of elk. To top that I saw a black bear!! All this within 1 1/2 hours of entering the park. I also found out where there is a wolf den to watch with binoculars. I'll check that out some other day.

I watched a bald eagle fight with another bird in mid-flight and then listened to some sandhill cranes. I also saw the regular assortment of Yellowstone animals. I still have to see a grizzly, bighorn sheep and coyotes. It would be great to see some of the other animals that are in the park but are much more secretive such mountain lions and mountain goats but I won't hold my breath on those.

I decided to check out snow conditions in the southern part of the park. I drove by Old Faithful, but didn't stop. The snow is deep down there, it is taller than my car. It is like driving through a snow canyon. I went up by Yellowstone Lake and then into Hayden Valley. It is still too early in the season for the bison and wolves there. I counted the entire herd of bison in Hayden Valley and came up with a grand total of 2. I did see some pelicans on the river.

It was a successful wildlife watching day. Tomorrow is my big day when I check in, get my dorm room and have orientation. It will be a busy day.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Own The Road

I left Park Rapids this morning at 6:15 am. I drove for 14 hours, 859 miles, and I made it to Gardiner, MT. Originally my plans were to go to Livingston but since the weather was nice and I was running on a major Mt. Dew buzz I decided to continue on to Gardiner. Perfect driving conditions all the way here, very few travelers on the road. Only some rain and wind in Glendive, MT but it was all good.

Minnesota: Within 1 mile from the house I had to brake for deer and wild turkeys in the road.

North Dakota: Though I have seen him a few times, White Cloud, the white bison in Jamestown, seemed to be hiding. My first stop for gas was in New Salem, which boasts that it has the Biggest Holstein Cow in the world. It is a huge cow. My next stop was the Painted Desert overlook in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I saw some bison, two herds of wild horses and some prairie dogs. I took my first pictures with my new camera.

Montana: 50 miles east of Billings I got my first glimpse of mountains, all covered with snow at their peaks. Gorgeous! I also noticed that all those lucky Billings residents are getting a new Cabelas, which was not open for me to stop into, which is probably a good thing---a really good thing. The further west I went the more I became surrounded by snowy mountains. And the wildlife! I saw antelope, HUGE herds of mule deer, elk and right across the Yellowstone River in Gardiner I had my first Yellowstone bison glimpse. Right in the middle of Gardiner I had to come to a complete stop as a group of mule deer slowly sauntered across the road while a group of elk grazed on the shrubs of a nearby hotel.

I am less than a mile from the north entrance to Yellowstone. But tonight it is all about relaxing and charging my cell phone and camera batteries.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Toting It

There is just a few days left before I leave. ETD: 6:00 am Sunday. I purchased new dual purpose luggage (aka Rubbermaid totes). I'm packing everything in them and when I get there they can serve as storage, dirty clothes hamper, garbage can, etc. Granted, they are not very classy but as good ol' mom always said, "Robyn, your not going to a fashion show."