"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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Random Pictures

Robyn and Andrea

Thermal Feature

Bison by Fishing Bridge Jct.

Bison Herd in Hayden Valley

Lake Hotel

Yellowstone Lake

Canyon Junction

Nymph Lake

Roaring Mountain

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Moose at Willow Park

Coyote by Gibbon River

Swans on the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley

Coyote and Swans

Famous Last Words

Coyote and Swans on the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley

Life is full of famous last words. My famous last words were: "reliable internet". And of course when someone utters some profound statement life comes along and proves you wrong. I have a bunch of great pictures I have been trying to upload and I keep losing my 'reliable' internet connection and I have to start over again. Since I like to think of my pictures as a storyboard to along with a narrative I certainly like to include some semi-interesting pictures to go along with what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, I can only load one picture, a picture that would be smack in the middle of my story.

Anyway, here goes my story (which would be so much more semi-interesting with some pictures). Patrick had to move his work vehicle and his personal vehicle up to Mammoth for the winter. His next exit out of Lake will be on a snowmobile. He needed to get back to Lake so we took my vehicle to drop him off. So I grabbed my camera and we were off.

My famous last words for today were: "I've never seen moose in Willow Park." The words weren't out of my mouth 10 seconds when Patrick says, "There is a moose." This is an area where I don't mind having the opposite of what I say happen. Sure enough there was a moose. And after looking closer it turned out to be a cow and a young bull. This is where, with your minds eye, you can insert an award winning photograph of 2 moose taken by yours truly. In reality you would see a post of an average picture of 2 moose. Thrilling none the less.

We watched a couple bison and a mousing coyote by Gibbon River. I waited for the pounce but gave up after getting a cramp in my arm holding my camera to my eye as I waited in anticipation. He cocked his head back and forth for awhile and instead of pouncing he just stuck his head in the snow repeatedly.

Our next thrill was making it up Blanding Hill (east of Norris). I usually have a sigh of relief when getting to the top, and I sigh twice when coming down safely.

We got quite a treat in Hayden Valley. We were watching the swans in the Yellowstone River when a coyote came trotting down the opposite side. He finally ran after a few swans that were near the edge, kind of a half hearted attempt. A couple swans sat a few yards from the edge tempting fate as the coyote watched them. It was interesting to watch and fun to listen to. The swans really put up a ruckus as the coyote watched them.

There were quite a few bison in Hayden Valley, and a few on the road by Fishing Bridge Jct. on my return. I followed a couple galloping bison past Obsidian Cliff but my return to Mammoth was much less eventful. I tried out a couple famous last word statements: "I've never seen a mountain lion." "I've never seen a mountain goat." I guess famous last words only work if there is someone else to hear them because as of yet I have not seen a mountain lion or a mountain goat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And Yet More Snow

Outside the Mammoth YGS this Morning

Andrea Dreaming of Alabama

I'm looking at about 3 feet of snow in Mammoth now. It just keeps coming. But a good dumping of snow cannot stop a Taco Tuesday from commencing. After a feast of tacos most of the NPS employees were sent home, except for a few essential employees such as rangers and snow plow drivers. Betty and Judy were unable to make it to work today so it was only Andrea and myself. With a lack of people moving through the Park it wasn't all that difficult for the two of us. Quite a few NPS employees braved the snow and wind to come for tacos but once that was over we closed the store once again. Andrea and I will open up tomorrow for NPS employees who will be in Mammoth but we are not expecting much activity.

The Gardiner school closed early and had to follow a snowplow up the canyon to the Park to drop off their precious cargo. The only people in the Park at this time are the NPS employees who live here, a few Xanterra emplyees and 3 YGS employees. It's very silent outside except for the sound of the wind and the snowplows as they come dragging their plows by. Interior roads were closed to Admin travel. This ex-Minnesotan is loving it but Alabama Andrea has had enough. Thank goodness she keeps getting her car stuck because I'm sure she would be driving off to Alabama with all this snow in her rear view mirror.

For Linda


This is for my friend Linda, whom I worked with at Canyon General Store in 2009. She is a wonderful woman who has a new title: Cancer Free!!!!!!!

I am so happy for you and I look forward to your next excursion to Yellowstone National Park. Next time you will not only get a high-five but a huge hug!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Misc. Adventure Store Fall Activities

Tubing down the sidewalk of Canyon Village

The Adventure Store Pumpkin Carving Contest

The Taco Belles

Mammoth General Store after 2 feet of snow

Coyote out my window

Bull Elk on the Blacktail Plateau

Snowy-Faced Bison on the Blacktail Plateau

Mammoth really got hit with the snow during this last storm. We've had about 2 feet of snow. It really started coming down Friday afternoon and when the NPS employees started leaving work early the store was closed at 4:30. With the snow continuing the next 2 days the store stayed closed Saturday and Sunday. Not much was moving around the Park this weekend except for some elk that walked below my window. The younger elk would squeak while wading through snow that was up to the bellies of their mothers. And the fun is not over. Another 1+ feet are expected by Tuesday night. Thank goodness I love the snow. This is Andrea's first winter in the north (she's from Alabama) and she is pretty much tired of having to clean off her car and/or being snowbound. And it's only November, plenty more winter ahead of us.

This afternoon I happened to look out my living room window to see a coyote, which appeared to have a case of mange, wandering around the parking area. I took a picture of him (I took it through the window screen, thus the distorted look of the picture). His tail is hairless and his hind quarters are in about the same nearly hairless condition. He walked with his hind end slumped down and I thought what a long and hard winter this will be on him.

With a break in the snow and the roads being plowed I decided to head out for a little drive this afternoon. I headed toward Blacktail Plateau. I came across a herd of bison slowly making their way down the road. The travel for them is much easier on a plowed road than pushing their way through 2 feet of snow. I followed them for awhile before they moved off to join a small herd pushing their massive heads through the snow for their dinner. I saw quite a few elk on my travel, a few being huge bull elks.

It's been about 7 months since I've really gotten out and taken pictures. It felt good to get my camera back in my hand and snap a few shots. The wintery white made everything seem so fresh and new. The trees were draped with huge piles of snow and I could make out all of the paths that the wildlife were making.

Since it gets dark before we get off work it was decided that a fun winter activity was needed for in the evenings. So Judy, Andrea and myself decided to join a Wii Bowling League for this winter. A local establishment has 3 tv's and had been looking for at least 6 teams. So team Taco Belles is the newest to join.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mammoth Here I Am

The Adventure Store Boarded Up For The Winter

Mousing Coyote by LeHardy Rapids

Yellowstone Lake

Snowy Sylvan Pass

I am currently sitting in my apartment in Mammoth reveling in all the things that most take for granted: fairly reliable internet connections, cell phone coverage and satellite tv. I pretty much gave up on the internet at Canyon and I found that I could possibly get one bar on my cell phone if I stood in one certain spot on the sidewalk in front of the Adventure Store, but that was unreliable and I found myself bundling up against the elements (ok, it was actually a mild October) trudge outside and I would pace the sidewalk in search of that one bar popping up on my phone.

And since you are reading this post you may now realize that I didn't fall off the face of the earth. The last couple of months have been quite busy. When the Canyon General Store closed at the begining of October the Adventure Store staff found themselves immersed in serving hungry guests hot dogs, soup and chili. We were having over 500 transactions a day (the highest this summer was in July with 362 transactions). With the spectacular fall weather the guests kept coming and we kept serving. At one point we had guests lined up from our fountain counter, around the store and out the door. As overwhelming as it was we all actually enjoyed it.

It was also store inventory time and nothing screams "Fun!" like having to count every single item in the storerooms. Matt and Mike were the lucky ones who got to count the flies (over 3,000). This was all taking place as I spent some down time transferring my belongings to my new apartment in Mammoth.

Us at the Adventure Store spent a few busy weeks...........then Dunraven Pass closed and everything came to a screeching halt. Canyon Village was practically deserted with the exception of some NPS personnel and the hardy crew of the Adventure Store. And how did we entertain ourselves? With a pumpkin carving contest (Morgan and David won), tubing down the sidewalk of Canyon Village, tubing down the road on Dunraven Pass, a game night of Apples to Apples, and an eye opening Adventure Store game show night entitled "How Well Do You Know Your Co-Worker?"

The Adventure Store closed for the 2010 season on November 7 at 12:00. I stayed until the 8th to finish up some odds-n-ends and made my final departure at 10:00 AM in a Winter Weather Advisory. Snow started to fall and I found myself heading back to Mammoth to start my position as Floor Supervisor at the General Store there. I'm back with Judy, Connie, Betty and with new winter employee, Andrea (who was a Floor Supervisor at the Adventure Store this past summer). I started last Tuesday on the first Taco Tuesday for the winter season. I'm seeing all the people I got to know last year when working there. And after only being here in Mammoth for a week I already got my phone call from HR for my 2011 rehire as manager of the Adventure Store. I was offered the position of manager for Grant but I declined to position. I guess the Canyon area pulls at me.

There is one sad part about working at a seasonal job: having to say goodbye to good friends. John and Jackie are back in Missouri, Dave is in North Carolina and will shortly be heading to California, Morgan is back in Washington, Matt is in California, Kem in Texas, David in Colorado, etc. Some of those people I have bonded with over the summer season are people that I will not see again for months and some are heading out to other venues and I will possibly never see again. But there are new friends to gain in the future and I think we are all the richer for having had these people in our lives for even a short moment in time.

And at this moment in time those of us who make Yellowstone National Park our home are awaiting a snow storm. We have had a series of storms move through this past week but the forecast for the next few days is quite a whopper. Areas of the Park may expect up to 30 inches of snow with high winds. Being a snow-lover there is a bit of a thrill for me.

Last Friday afternoon I was heading to Wapiti through the Park via Sylvan Pass. I made sure that at least two people knew where I was going and by what route. So Patrick was notified when I left Mammoth and I was able to text Andrea when I got to Hayden Valley. I told her to give me 2 hours to get over the pass and to a place with cell coverage where I could call her. I was then immediately held up by a herd of frisky bison congregating on the roadway in Hayden. I moved slowly around them all the time mumbling, "Please don't butt my car. Please don't butt my car." None did. Then I stopped to watch 3 coyotes just past LaHardy Rapids. The road was snow covered but there was one set of vehicle tracks I was following. When I turned toward the East Entrance at Fishing Bridge there were no tracks. I drove those miles up and over Sylvan Pass knowing I was the only one out there. I pushed a bit of snow going up the pass and only had one moment of sliding going down. By the time I made it to the bottom the back end of my car looked like a snowy turtle shell.

Driving through the Park after the roads are closed to the public is an adventure. The wood chips are piled up in areas (Golden Gate and by Nymph Lake) to be spread out for the snowmobiling season which starts in December. The piles take up one lane of the road so if you come across a vehicle coming from the other direction someone will be backing up. The wood chips cover up the roadway where the snow tends to melt because of thermal features or to protect the roadway such as at Golden Gate.

And now with the 2010 winter season here I am hoping to continue on and update my blog on a more regular basis. I have my camera out and ready. And now I will turn my attention to the Weather Channel.........old habits die hard.