"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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Slow but Surely

With my time at work and the dark coming quicker in the evenings I haven't had much time to go and see the sights. It has been snowy/rainy/windy lately and the elk herd that is usually in Mammoth are hiding in the hills during the day. I see them on occassion as I come into work and they usually make their appearance in Mammoth after dark.

The store has been a bit slow lately but that is to be expected. The Mammoth Hotel is closed until the week of Christmas so there are not as many people staying in the Park. There are the few that come to spend the day here so most of our guests in the store work in the Park. We are getting ready to open the fountain area of the store in a week. Right now we only serve coffee, caps, and hot chocolate but we will be opening it up for hamburgers, hot dogs, paninis and the ever beloved Taco Tuesdays!! I can't wait.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Coyote in Hayden Valley

I just wanted to share this picture of a little beauty that I saw in Hayden Valley last week. The coyotes are numerous and I always take the time to admire them and their antics.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Heat (or the lack of)

Robyn in Hayden with Washburn Range

With the day off today I drove up to Hayden Valley. Dunraven Pass is closed for the season now and this picture shows how much snow is up in the Washburn Range. The only bison I saw in Hayden was one that I watched swim the Yellowstone River and then run off nearly at full speed. It was a grand feeling to practically have Hayden Valley all to myself (I only saw three other cars in the valley).

Bull Elk at Lower Terrace

Swans on the Yellowstone River by Hayden Valley

Bob the Bison

I found Bob the bison walking the road between Canyon and Norris this morning. It was a good day for bison spotting as I also saw the Magnificent One on a hill across from Roaring Mountain and also saw Dorm Bison's #2 and #3 by Canyon.

Elk at the Store

This mama elk was standing outside the store yesterday and took some time from grazing to look up at me as I opened the door. I'm sure by the end of my time in Mammoth I will have a few thousand pictures of elk by the store. It's quite amazing to see them right outside the windows.

Two weeks ago a man fishing by Cooke City was mauled by a grizzly bear. He was with a companion (it was told to me that they both were rangers) who had to shoot and kill the bear to prevent it from injuring or killing his friend. My co-workers, Jerry and Carol, saw a wolf between Gardiner and Mammoth yesterday morning and a guest reported to seeing a mountain lion somewhere between Sheepeater's Cliff and Obsidian. Laura from the Adventure Store saw a mountain lion in June by Mud Volcano and there was also one spotted repeatedly last year between Gardiner and Mammoth. I do hope to see one someday but I know the odds are against it.

Two nights ago I got back from work to find that the furnace had gone out. It was getting cold in there and I was preparing to settle in with a few blankets for a chilly evening. Luckily for me one of my neighbors decided to knock on my door to invite me to a campfire in the YACC Camp (where I now live). I took the opportunity to see if he knew anything about furnaces. Another neighbor stopped in to help and when it was decided that a part was broken he made a phone call (which ended up being numerous calls between me and the comm. center and DNC maintenance). In the end an Amerigas employee gave up his Saturday night and in the end I had a fixed furnace, heat, and an opportunity to meet some of my neighbors. Everyone was so nice to help me. And that's the way people are in Yellowstone: Nice!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Store

This a view of the Lower Terraces and Liberty Cap from across the road from the store. You can see the large bull elk laying down. He is the one that sometimes prevents us from leaving or entering the store from the front doors. He is one of the bulls that I have been seeing all summer by Lava Creek, and also possibly the one in the picture that I posted of the man taking his picture from a close distance.

Yellowstone General Store in Mammoth
The store was originally called Ash & Henderson Store and was built in the 1890's.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Ghosts of Mammoth

I've been introduced to all of those in the Mammoth store.....except for two. Those two would be Ted and a little girl. Both are ghosts. Yup, the store here is supposed to be haunted. Ted is a former manager who left here in the 60's and is the one responsible for the scattering items across the floor, the shutting off of lights, the opening of windows, and other strange occurances. The little girl is to inhabit the upstairs and can be heard walking the floor and the sounds of her petticoat rustling. Its actually exciting to think that they are here for they must of loved Yellowstone very much to want to remain.

The third non-employee that I have been introduced to is Bob. 2 years ago a customer brought up a cedar box to purchase. She had found it on the shelf with the other cedar boxes but it also did not have the design of the others and this one had been locked. After searching for a price the customer opted not to purchase it. The box was brought to the back and opened (it had the same type of lock as the newer boxes). Inside was cremains! There was also the name 'Bob' on it with some numbers. Someone left Bob's cremains in the cedar box and placed it on the shelf with the others. Obviously Bob's family members also knew that he loved Yellowstone very much and thought this would be the place he should be. Bob is treated very respectfully and is actually considered a friend of the store. He remains here in Mammoth.

I am enjoying my time here. What a great place! Its fun to have a job where you can stop for a moment and watch the elk butt heads right out in front of the store. I even was unable to leave after work my first evening as there was a huge bull elk blocking my way. What a life!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

View of Elk Herd From My Kitchen Window

Mousing Coyote by Canyon Junction
Grizzly Bear by Mud Volcano

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coyotes, Bison & Bears

After my last post I headed down to Hayden Valley. Right before Alum Creek I stopped to watch a couple of coyotes. One was right by the road but then wandered a little bit off and layed down for a while. Coyotes are great fun to watch. I headed further down the road and just past Mud Volcano I saw what is quite possibly the largest grizzly bear I have ever seen. He was inky black and had just crossed the road and was heading toward the Yellowstone River. It was just me and two other cars watching him. It was incredible.

I headed further south and ended up where the Arnica Fire had crossed the road a couple of weeks ago. It was near the location that I had taken the picture of Jackie, Dave and myself. I then came back north and headed over Dunraven Pass, which had just opened the previous night. At the summit I came across three bison heading down the middle of the road over the pass to the north.
Sunday I went to Lamar Valley for the first time in a couple months. I watched a pack of 5 coyotes wandering by the river and the bison that were spread across the road.

Yesterday I went back down to Hayden Valley but had to stop and watch a couple of coyotes mousing in the field to the west of Canyon Junction. I got a couple of great shots of them leaping into the air as they pounced on their dinner. The bison herd in Hayden were all laying around by Alum Creek. It rained here last night, heavy at times. And the tops of the mountains are powdered with snow. An elk herd can be seen from my kitchen window and I can hear them bugle all day long.

Today was my first day working in Mammoth. I'm getting used to where everything is. There is slight variations in what is sold between stores so I'm seeing product that is new to me. I am also meeting people that I will be working with all winter and some that I will only work with for 10 more days (their contract ends Nov. 1). A large bull elk likes to hang out by the door that I use when I come to work so I've been shown an alternate door to use when that happens.
The past few days of seeing and listening to the wildlife it occured to me that I don't need to watch the Discovery Channel.......I live the Discovery Channel.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm Baaaack

I finally made it back to YNP after a 15 hour drive. Postings will be sporatic at best until I get settled in and start work. My greeting when I first pulled in was some bugling elk right across from my new place. I stepped out of my car and I didn't even get my door closed before they started. I guess it was my welcome home bugles. An hour later I heard a pack of coyotes singing.

Yesterday I headed into Bozeman for some grocery shopping and stopped to watch a couple coyotes wandering around north of Gardiner. When I got back I unpacked some more and started to make my new place more homey.

This morning I started toward Canyon to stop in the Adventure Store and say hi to my some of my summer co-workers who will be working there until Nov. 1. In a lake at Swan Lake Flats I watched about 25 swans swim. Great image with the snowy mountain as the background. Farther on I saw the Magnificent One and his friend standing in the sun off the side of the road. It's great to see old friends.........beast and human. My next stop will be Hayden Valley.

It feels great to be back!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

While I'm in Minnesota.....

My pre-Yellowstone life involved me with lots of animals. I raised miniature donkeys and llamas but also had pot-bellied pigs, sheep, goats, horses, ponies, chickens, geese, ducks, dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, etc. Organizations would come and have farm tours and I supplied animals for local live nativities at Christmas. I also was brought orphaned fawns by the game warden. I would raise them and release them. Lots of fun and a LOT of work. I also returned to college as an adult with a major in archaeology. I had hopes of being a national park ranger. Someday.

My love of animals rubbed off on my daughter who now has her own herd of horses. She is a barrel racer and has won numerous titles, trophies, belt buckles, ribbons, awards and money. She is especially proud of being a qualified to attend the National Barrel Horse World Competitions these past two years. She breaks and trains all her own horses and even has a pony that she has trained to pull a cart (in the winter it is a sled) and do tricks. She lives and breaths horses and has hopes of being a licensed equine chiropractor and massage therapist, trainer and farrier.

My middle child, a son, is a very social and outgoing young man. He has played the violin for 12 years and spent one week during his summers playing in the Youth Symphony at the International Peace Gardens at the International Music Camp. He recently discovered his love for theater and has been involved in numerous productions (one in which his cast was invited to perform at an art festival in Scotland ~ too expensive to go) This past summer he had a part in The Fiddler on the Roof with the Northern Lite Opera Company. His future goal is to be a neurology surgeon and spent time last summer at Georgetown University in a student medical program.

My oldest son and his girlfriend are expecting a child in December. He is a very proud-to-be papa. He is very sport orientated and loves football (Go Vikings!). He works full-time at a family business but his off time is spent playing or watching sports and spending time with his girlfriend and also preparing for the new arrival. I will be the designated grandma who will teach my granddaughter to love the national parks (especially Yellowstone), animals and wildlife.

Minnesota is known for lakes (over 10,000) but it also has quite the assortment of wildlife. We are the home to over 2,000 wolves. I have heard them howling in the evenings and have seen evidence of them. But with all those wolves in the area I have actually only seen one Minnesota wolf. There is even a couple herds of elk in Minnesota, and there is a small hunting season for them. I saw a herd of elk once. There is plenty of moose and I've had one trot out in front of my car once and proceed walking down the middle of the road with no way around it. There is also a few local mountain lions (which I've never seen) but I have seen lynx and bobcat. And there is a lot of bears here.

The other night as I drove after dark down a back dirt road my car headlights hit a black creature lumbering down the side of the road and then leap off into a river with tall reeds. I asked my daughter if she saw the big black dog. Her reply was: "Ummm, mom that was a bear. And exactly who spent the entire summer in Yellowstone?" Obviously I was not in wildlife mode and I had a bit of difficulty with species identification.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Adventure Continues

This is my 170th post and I've seen the end of the season at Canyon Village. But the adventure continues as I will be starting my new position at Yellowstone General Store at Mammoth in YNP on October 20! I will be spending the winter in the wonderland that is Yellowstone National Park. I am currently in Minnesota spending time with my children (I have 3: 2 boys & 1 girl) and I will be attending a baby shower for my first grandchild (a girl due December 22).

In my last couple days in Canyon I saw snow that closed Dunraven Pass for a couple days, saw the opening of the road to Grant and said goodbye to some great friends. I spent 2 days working in the Adventure Store (also known as the Outdoor Store and Sporting Goods Store) helping with the overflow of hungry people who went there when the Fountain closed on Wednesday. The Adventure Store is also owned by Delaware North who owns the General Stores in YNP. I did make it back to the General Store in time last Friday at noon to witness the official 'locking of the doors' for the season.

I left YNP last Saturday at 4:40 am for my 14 hour drive back to Minnesota. On my way out of the village the moon was very full and I could see a herd of elk laying in the field with the bull elk standing amongst them. Goodbye noisy bull elk. I looked for Bob as I crossed over to Norris (I saw him earlier in the week). Goodbye Bob. I drove carefully from Norris to Mammoth and kept my eyes open for the Magnificent One and the army of bison that was amassing with him (a small army of about 6). Goodbye Magnificent One. I drove through the north arch at 6:00. Goodbye Yellowstone National Park. Maybe instead of goodbye more appropriate words would be "I'll see you again."

Driving across Montana a joke occurred to me:

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A: To prove to the Montana deer it could be done.

Goodness, there are a lot of dead deer on the highway in Montana!

One of the first things I had to accomplish in Minnesota was to find a reliable vehicle capable of handling snowy, windy and steep roads. I was driving a Chrysler 300 this summer, which rides low and does not have front wheel drive. Yesterday I bought myself a 2005 Chevy Equinox. I feel safer now. It should do just fine when I cruise on over to a wintry Lamar Valley to watch the wolves.

Canyon 2009 has come to an end. Mammoth in Winter will start in a few days. And Canyon 2010 is just a few short months around the corner. I'm looking forward to continuing working and living in the worlds first national park. And I am excited about continuing my blog and updating everyone on what is happening in the YNP and with myself. I'll include my happiness, frustrations, whining, the mundane and the sheer enjoyment and excitement of life in Yellowstone. Thanks for reading!!!!! Oh, and everyone from Canyon this summer: I miss you and I hope we'll meet again next year. It's not 'goodbye' it's 'I'll see you again."