"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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Elk Moving Day

Shoey moving the elk out of the storage area
 A couple of weeks ago Jerry had an incredible find in our warehouse.  The first time I layed eyes on them it was quite startling but then our excitement grew.  We had stumbled across, with only the aid of flashlights, a life-sized elk stuffed animal much like the moose at the Canyon store.  And along with the elk we also found a grizzly bear and a larger-than-life howling wolf.  We knew the elk had to be part of the store so today became Elk Moving Day at the Mammoth store.  But first we had to get it out of the warehouse, move it up the road to the store and then into the store.  Not an easy task when moving a life-sized elk.
Shoey and Jerry move the elk into the back of Shoey's pickup.

The ride down the road became quite a head-turner for visitors armed with cameras.

The elk had to moved into the store via the front door.

Jerry and LouAnn pose with the elk
 Though there was not room in the store for the bear and the wolf we decided to include them on this moving day.

Jay, Preston and Shoey move the 7 foot tall bear through the employee entrance.

Preston and Jerry move the bear through the employee living room.

The bear is now a permnant resident of the employee area. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fishing on Yellowstone Lake

Bridge Bay Marina
This past weekend I got to have one of those 'first time' experiences.  I got to be on a boat on Yellowstone Lake.  Earlier in the week we launched the boat.  While Patrick ran the boat motor I was assigned the job of backing up - Patrick had to place it perfectly straight because I am absolutely unable to backup a trailer without it zig zagging all over the place with the end result being an unintentional jack-knife.  My next job (which I assigned myself) was to slurp on a green apple slushie from the Bridge Bay YGS.

On sunday, with a bit of fishing in mind, Patrick, myself, Andrea and Buddy (a dog) boarded the Park Robyn and took from the marina toward the blue waters of Yellowstone Lake.
Lake Hotel

Fishing off from Stevenson Island
Our destination was Stevenson Island.  Andrea and I spent the early afternoon fishing.  Casting and reeling in......but not one bite.  There was a bit of excitement between us when we saw a fish jump behind the boat.
We fished on every side of Stevenson Island, enjoyed the beauty of the scenery and located familiar landmarks look so very different from the perspective of the lake.  And no fishing excursion would be complete until someone says:  "Hey Robyn, you have a hook on your butt."  A persons dignity does become lost when you stand there with a Jake's lure hanging off your behind.
View from Lake Butte Overlook

Robyn and Andrea
Andrea and I laugh at ourselves because of the fact that most of the shirts we own say Yellowstone on them. 

The Park has been incredibly busy this past week.  During my breaks at work I will sit on the porch in front of the store and watch the people and cars pass by.  The temps have been warm, somedays it gets into the 90's.  We always look forward to a nice breeze to help cool us down and keep air flowing through the store.

Even though I travel on a regular basis through the Park my wildlife sightings have been rather slow.  I did see two foxes running on the road north of Fishing Bridge the other morning and then in Hayden a coyote jogged off the edge of the road.  Most of the bison that I have been seeing have been lone bison and not the large herds that I have been accustomed to seeing the previous summers.  I have been seeing herds of elk.  The other morning at 5:30 I noticed something bobbing in the Yellowstone River between Canyon and Hayden Valley.  After studying it for a moment I realized that an elk was swimming madly across the river.
Next week my good friends Lyle, Denise, Levi and Leah are coming to Yellowstone to see the sights and visit me.  I am so excited that I will be seeing them and playing tour guide for a few days.  Denise came back with me from Minnesota two years ago and spent a couple days in the Park and now will be accompanied by her husband and children.  Good friends and good times lay ahead.
Hayden Valley in the morning

Saturday, July 23, 2011

High Water

Grizzly Overlook on any given evening

The Yellowstone River from Fishing Bridge

Celebrities in Yellowstone

A typical sight in Mammoth Hot Springs

 On Tuesday evening Jeremy and Tina hosted an evening of food and fun for Kim, who's final day at the store was Friday.  Jeremy and Tina smoked and cooked a brisket and the rest chipped in with other delicious items.  Everyone from the Mammoth General Store who could make it came and socialized.  What a great group of people!
Kim, LouAnn and Brenda

 I finally hit the mother of all jams in Hayden Valley Thursday night.  The road was clogged from Alum Creek up to Grizzly Overlook.  And what was causing such a stir?
 The sow grizzly with two cubs.  They were a distance from the road but I could see the 3 brown bumps moving through the brush.  I hadn't seen a bear in a couple weeks but with the very slow moving traffic I was able to watch them and actually get a picture of them........though it is from quite a distance.
 Yesterday a cinnamon black bear was spotted on the hill behind the store.  We all rushed for our cameras and I was able to capture a few shots of her.  She has been a regular in the Mammoth area for a few years but this was my first sighting of her.
I include this picture I took by Canyon Village as something people should NOT do.  Bison are lightening quick and this fella could rise to his feet and charge and send a person airborne before there was a chance to push the shutter button.  
Lately I have been watching a new show in tv called:  Attention.  Aquiring Satellite Signal.  Please Wait.  I've been watching it for days.  Not much of a plot.  So if something interesting is happening out in the world I know nothing of it.  Yellowstone has its share of famous visitors.  This past week Andrea got the opportunity to wait on a celebrity herself.  An actor from the show True Blood came into the Adventure Store (I didn't recognize the name of the actor but she definately knew him!).  Last year Georgette Engel came into the Mammoth General Store (Mary Tyler Moore Show and Everyone Loves Raymond).  I would have loved to seen her and Judy said she is as nice in person as the characters she has portrayed.  Faye once helped Michael Jordan at Old Faithful, Kenny Rogers once ate at Fishing Bridge (but had to leave his meal when he was bombarded with fans) and last summer John Cusak was reported to be seen in Gardiner.  With my limited tv viewing I guess the biggest celebrities I could hope to see in Yellowstone would be those people from The Weather Channel.  Jim Cantore, Yellowstone is waiting for you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yellowstone Time

I am currently sitting in my apartment in Mammoth contemplating my next posting all the while considering how cruel the world is with my eating 1/4 lb. of lasagna and gaining 3 lbs. of body weight.  But this was 'Minnesota Lasagna'.  Patrick likes to differentiate the difference between my lasagna and his real-deal Italian Lasagna.  I would like to think that the Scandinavian/Minnesotan delicacy Lutefisk is the secret ingredient that makes mine so darn tasty but that would be an outright lie.........it's the lefse.  My Minnesotaness has been somewhat of a topic lately in the store.  I apparently say "Oh, yaaaaa" on a regular basis which causes the workers in the fountain to "Oh, yaaaa!" me right back.  Uff dah, what's a gal to do?  

On Wednesday night Patrick invited a few of his workers over for dinner.  I considered my driving time from Mammoth to Lake in 'Yellowstone Time'.  Yellowstone Time is a complicated mathematical equation that uses the figures from what driving time should be going 45 mph (and lower in appropriately marked places) and adding on 10 hours because of bison/bear jams.  I left Mammoth in what would normally be a good time with consideration to the for mentioned.  All was well until I got to almost Hayden Valley.  A very, very long line of cars.  Inch by inch we moved.  Cars came from the other direction sporadically which told me that there must be a bison in our lane heading in the same direction as us.  And no phone service to call and let anyone know that I was possibly going to be late.  The bison finally moved off the road and up Mary Mountain Trail.  

The next place to tackle was Grizzly Overlook.  Every evening there is a huge line of vehicles moving by, pulling into parking spaces, pulling out of spaces, people running across the road, car doors being flung open, etc.  It is a very busy area and not one where eyes should be taken off what is happening in front of your vehicle.  I made it through.

Then came the Mud Volcano Area.  Another huge line of vehicles.  And this time I could see ahead of me that people had exited their cars and were all over the road.  This is a sign that you may be sitting there a very long time.  I started fidgeting and repeatedly looking at my clock.  If I was there long enough the guests could show up and find no food (that delicious Minnesota Lasagna), no beverages and no Robyn.  And since I had sorted through my CD collection on a previous jam I had nothing to do but sit there and tap my fingers on my steering wheel.    Tick tock, tick tock.
I finally made it to Lake with just enough time to spare to prepare the lasagna (the sauce was made the previous evening), make a salad and some garlic bread.  And that is how a dinner gathering in Yellowstone goes.  It's one of the only places that the hostess may have the excuse that they were late because of bison blocking traffic.

My morning drives still are one of the best parts of my day.  Though Hayden Valley is extremely foggy in the morning I am able to peek out at the landscape when I come by Grizzly Overlook and I am over the fog bank.  I can look down and see the fog rise up over Alum Creek and blanket over parts of the valley.  There is still a patchwork of snow to the west of the valley but that is melting quickly.

This morning I needed to be in West Yellowstone for ServeSafe certification training.  Andrea had also signed up for the training so I picked her up in Canyon along the way.  I miss seeing her on a regular basis so our morning drive to West (locals shorten West Yellowstone to West) was filled with our old familiar laughter.  The ServeSafe training took all day and it ended with our testing.  We will receive our results in abut ten days.  No worries, though.  All employees are required to take a shortened version of ServeSafe as part of their new employee training but we decided to further our training and be certified.  Learning more or something new is something I have always valued.  We ended our day with a grilled cheese sandwich at the Canyon General Store fountain........and more laughter.  We have also decided that we would go to the pig races near Red Lodge together.  

And a special message to my dear friend Judy:  We still are the 3 Amigos!  You are always in our hearts!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Park Robyn

How do you know when life is good?  Well, one way to tell is when a boat is named after you.  Patrick's career in the park service has included many dimensions, one includes using a Park Ranger boat on Yellowstone Lake.  When one of the boats he had used in the past was retired from the park service and put up for auction he lept at the chance to own it. 

Patrick is now the proud owner of the boat and I am the proud person that it is now named after.  We are hoping to have the boat back on Yellowstone Lake in August and doing some touring and fishing.  So if you are out on Yellowstone Lake and you see the Park Robyn cruising by just wave, I'll be the one on it with a big grin.

The Bighorn Mountains

My weekend included a picnic in the Bighorn Mountains.  It is an incredibly beautiful and scenic drive.
 By Medicine Mountain is the archaeological site of Medicine Wheel.  Since it was a three mile hike on foot we had to pass that up this time but it is on our list of things to do in the future.  I would love to try hiking and camping in this area.
 We stopped at Burgess Jct. and then proceeded down a back road.  We picnicked along a small river and then enjoyed the sites.
 One of the sites was this beautiful vista, complete with a moose!
 And later on we came across a moose cow with her young twins.

 They made their way across the road.  Mama moose found a great grazing area while her young'uns found themselves on the wrong side of a fence.  They would pace back and forth, contemplate a leap over the fence, think twice and pace some more.  They eventually crawled through the fence.

Our time in the Bighorn National Forest ended with a drive through Shell Canyon.  It was indeed a perfect and beautiful day.  I saw a total of five moose and some of the greatest pristine mountain forests in Wyoming.  I will definately make a trip back here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


As you may have heard there was a fatal grizzly attack near Canyon Village yesterday.  This hits the Yellowstone community very hard.  The loss of life is not taken lightly.  This is an extremly rare case that involved hikers on the Wapiti Trail near Canyon Village Wednesday morning, July 6.  Please see the NPS site for further and up-to-date information on this incident.

I first heard of this yesterday afternoon when Patrick showed me the NPS press release.  The media showed up in the store today looking for an on-camera statement (denied).  What I will say here is that I am very extemely sorry for the family that a Yellowstone experience ended in this way.  No one should ever leave Yellowstone in sorrow.

4th of July in Yellowstone

6 Foot Sub to celebrate the 4th at the Mammoth General Store
Independence Day in Yellowstone was nothing less than spectacular.  Though I had to work I enjoyed the day.  The Mammoth General Store spent their lunch hour feasting on a 6 foot sub and part of their work day helping guests who were spending the 4th of July in Yellowstone.  Though visitation is down from the previous couple of years it was a wonderful day watching happy people relaxing on their vacations and experiencing the wonders of Yellowstone.
I got to partake in a Lake Village tradition:  the 4th of July Parade.  It is the only location in Yellowstone that has a parade and I proudly participated by sitting in the Resource Management vehicle that hauled the live bear trap.  And who was following us?  The Delaware North vehicle with Sandy, Cathy, Josh and a few other DNC employees.  We were all in the spirit of the day.
Bill, Patrick, Mitch and Bill
While Patrick drove the vehicle and Bill manned the PA system I was supposed to be in charge of the sirens.  However, nothing goes as planned.  Bill is a genius at entertaining those who lined the parade route, and even though I have somehow mastered the act of chewing gum and walking I could not work the siren and laugh at the same time.  No, there was not a pair of chipmunks in the bear trap, yes there was a spare tire in the bear trap.  And the siren........well, not so much a siren sound but the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  So while I laughed, took pictures and listened to those singing along the parade route (which was lead by a cardboard cutout of Michael Jordan in Margie's truck) Patrick drove the truck, watched out for the elk antlers attached to the side of the truck adorned with red, white and blue balloons that could snag a visitors and worked the 'Dumb and Dumber Most Annoying Sound Ever' siren (this was a unanimous vote amongst Mitch, Bill and myself) I laughed.  
Bill on the PA system convincing the crowds to sing

The parade in front of the Lake Lodge

The parade in front of Lake Hotel
For future reference, while in Yellowstone National Park on the 4th of July please watch the Lake Village parade.  As always, this parade was followed by the Medcor potlock:  hotdogs, casseroles (or hotdishes if you are from Minnesota)) and Wilcoxson's Ice Cream.  The barbecues needed to be moved a couple of times since a helicopter was coming in to transport a patient.

And since I mentioned this in my previous blog about buying helicopter insurance I need to mention that an employee of Mammoth was extremely grateful for purchasing this insurance.  He needed to be transported to the Idaho Falls Hospital via an airlift this past Friday.  This ended in a positive way but it reinforced the idea that working in Yellowstone and purchasing helicopter insurance was indeed an excellent idea. 

This also a good time to reiterate the theme of Yellowstone Delaware North employees:  we are not only employees but we are family.  Even though we may only work together for a few months a year we care deeply about each other and form life-long friendships.  I came face-to-face with this fact this past week.  My dear friend Jackie left to go back home to Branson , Missouri for an excellent job opportunity.  Jackie, her husband John, and myself started together over two years ago at Canyon and we have been friends ever since.  My loss of my good friends in Yellowstone hit me hard.  Though I live in Yellowstone year-round most of my friends are seasonal employees and I often wonder at the end of the summer season if I will ever see them again.  I have lost friends to death (Barney and Mickey), moving on from temporary jobs (Grant Village) and saw friends leave to find national park employment elsewhere.  My wish for all seasonal Delaware North employees that I have come to know is that we will all meet again. After all, we are family.

I miss you Jackie and John!  Good luck in your new position.  And I will be here waiting for your visit, in Yellowstone National Park.