"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

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.