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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nomadic friends.....


6:49 am - Thursday - 48º F, humidity 50%, wind 4 mph out of the east.....partly cloudy with a forecast high of 86º F.

Wednesday we had vague plans to get out early and do some more hiking, but then we found out that our good Newell friends, Richard and Rhonda (currently on a 6 month summer/fall trip in their Newell), were over in West Yellowstone for one more day.  We made an on the spot the decision to drive over to visit with them for the afternoon.

We were in the car by 10 am.....early for us.....driving south on US-89 through Mammoth Hot Springs, and over to the KOA just a few miles west of West Yellowstone on US-20.  We made a couple of stops along the way see, first, the National Park Ranger Museum located in the Norris Campground.....

......the National Park Service was established in 1916 and took over management of Yellowstone National Park from the Army.  It is a small museum with a lot of information, plus a little movie theater where you can view multiple videos about the National Park Service, as well as the Norris Ranger Station, where the museum is housed.

Our second stop was along the Madison River which parallels US-191.  We last drove US-191 back on June 15th on our way north to Gardiner, MT following our orientation in West Yellowstone.  We didn't have time that day to stop and enjoy the beauty of the river and the valley it flows through.......

 Looking west

 Looking east

....there were a couple of 'fly fishermen' where we stopped for about 10 minutes to capture a few pictures.

We had planned to arrive at the KOA where Richard and Rhonda were staying around 1 pm, but traffic was better than expected and we arrived around 12:30 pm.  The friendships we have formed as a result of owning our 1982 Newell were the unexpected blessing of our purchase.  Whenever we get near any of our Newell family we make an effort to connect with them.  We spent a lovely afternoon talking about family, friends, our love of the nomadic life and marveling at how we can be apart for two years, and pick up as if no time at all had transpired.....

 Sitting in Richard and Rhonda's 1999 2 slide Newell

.....Richard made beef tacos for lunch which we consumed as our never ending conversation took its normal twists and turns.  All too soon it was 4 pm, and we knew we were in for a long drive home through the afternoon YNP crowds so we said our 'until next times' to Richard and Rhonda to begin our 60 mile drive back to Gardiner.  

The return drive actually went quite quickly until we hit the 5 mile construction zone on US-89 about 26 miles south of Gardiner.....at this point we had covered about 35 of the 60 miles home in about an hour.  Usually there is about a 10 minute wait in a traffic line while opposing traffic makes its way through the construction zone, and then another 15 minutes to traverse the 5 miles of mostly packed dirt roadway, but this day it took almost an hour to get through the construction zone as we were only moving at about 5 mph for most of the distance.  Then we arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs where there was an immense traffic stoppage due to an 'Elk sighting'......I have written about this phenomenon where one vehicle will just stop in the middle of the road so the occupants can take dozens of pictures of an elk, antelope, buffalo, etc. stopping traffic for up to 10 minutes sometimes....

.......by the time we finally got through the Mammoth traffic jam and down the hill to YRVP it was after 6:30 pm......2.5 hours to drive a shade over 60 miles.....oy vey!  Nonetheless, we would not trade our few hours with Richard and Rhonda for anything.

Managed to capture this small sunset image for your viewing pleasure......

Well, it's back to work in a few hours (Thursday) for us......thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

100 Mile Club.....


8:34 am - Wednesday - 60º F, humidity 54%, wind 3 mph out of the east northeast.....with a forecast high of 89º F.....YIKES!

Our goal for Tuesday was to first stop off at the local YCERP (Yellowstone Co-Op Employee Recreation) office to register for the 100 Mile Club....a hiking club.  We like to hike, but it is nice to have some accountability to get us out there on our off days to get in some miles, and see some more amazing scenery.  It's been a little hot lately, and we need the motivation to get out there even if it is a little warm for our liking.  I filled up both 100 oz. Camelbacks with water and ice in preparation for some hiking, and we were off by 11 am for our first destination....Wraith Falls.....

 Wraith Falls

....from there I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the tail.....

Lava Creek Trail

Undine Falls


 View of Mammoth Hot Springs from Lava Creek Trail

 An 'usie' with Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces in the deep background

 Blacktail Trail

 Time for the reward!
 The owner is obviously a fan of 'Rusty Gold'

.....I heard some exuberant yelling from the river, so I peeked over the railing to see some rafters sailing by....

Rafters on the Yellowstone River as seen from the Ironhorse Bar and Grill

.....we had a splendid day of hiking adding 5 miles to our total mileage which now stands at 11.5 miles.......we'll do some more Wednesday!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Day # 33 - Yellowstone National Park


8:16 am - Tuesday - 57º F, humidity 81%, wind 3 mph out of the east southeast.......partly cloudy with a forecast high of 85º F today.

The name of the game here at Yellowstone National Park is rain the past few days.  It has rained almost every day for the past two weeks, but the past few days we have been getting hit with strong storm cells which  pass over us in as little as 30 minutes, but sometimes up to an hour dropping copious amounts of moisture accompanied by hail, one lightning flash after another with the attendant thunder shortly thereafter.  Monday evening we got hit by two of these storm cells about an hour apart.  All that being said, I am getting ahead of myself.

The morning temps Monday were just delightful, and the sky was cobalt blue with nary a cloud in sight.  I thought our site(s) looked idyllic in the morning light so I snapped a quick picture.....

.....the two trees you see provide us with shade for a big part of the morning and into the early afternoon, but the tree on the right is my continual antagonist when it comes to satellite TV reception in the evening.  As long as there is no wind things are pretty good, but if the wind comes from the south as it does a lot, then the moving branches and leaves reek havoc with reception.  Sometimes it is easy to get bugged by minor things, so I just keep reminding myself that it's really not that big of a deal in the over all scheme of life, right?  Besides, we are blessed to be living in such an amazing environment!

We reported for our 'MID' shift at 11 am (11 am to 7 pm) to find things relatively quiet for a Monday.  Over the past month we have been here Monday's have been pretty busy according to our co-workers.  Since we have not worked Monday's until this very day we have yet to experience a busy Monday, and this Monday was comparatively quiet.

The Mammoth Hot Springs General Store is getting ready for the annual National Park Service inspection.  Each year the NPS inspects all the General Stores (operated by Delaware North) to be sure DN is doing its job.  This year the 15 year contract is up for renewal, so this inspection is of particular importance as its results will have a direct bearing upon DN's chances of getting another 15 year contract.  Anyway, we spent part of the day being briefed on what needs to be done over the next few days to prepare for that inspection.  Our store always appears neat and orderly, but there are always a few more things to do to make it extra sharp in appearance.

The hours passed quickly once again, and before we knew it was 7 pm.....within minutes we were in the Beetle plunging down the Gardiner River gorge.  Since we have worked so many 'CLOSE' shifts we rarely get enjoy the drive home in daylight.  Oh, by the way, the tips from June were distributed Monday.....TLE and I each received $68 as our share.  I told TLE about 95% of those tips were earned by the 'Fountain' folk, but she didn't buy into it one single bit.  It is true, though, that about 95% of the tips received fall into the 'Fountain' tip basket.  A typical busy day will see us receive about $50 in tips there......sweet!

Getting home a little after 7 pm afforded us the opportunity to sit outside enjoying the early evening air and clouds from an approaching storm cell...... 

Looking eastward

....eventually the evening cold chased us indoors, but it was nice to sit outside for an hour, or so.  About an hour after we went inside the Newell the aforementioned storm cells passed through Gardiner depositing rain, and sometimes hail for about 30 minutes each.  The daily rains help keep the dust down, and also help tamp down the temperatures.  We are looking forward to our two days off (Tuesday/Wednesday) and continuing our exploration of YNP.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, July 17, 2017


7:11 am - Monday - 52º F, humidity 81%, wind 1 mph out of the east southeast......no clouds!  Forecast high for today is 83º F.

Sunday was an unusual day in so many ways.....as I related in yesterday's post I discovered, much to my chagrin, that the rain had gotten in through the open salon window Saturday afternoon while we were at work getting the throw rug under my recliner and computer desk somewhat damp.  Before I could do anything I had to get that rug outside to begin drying in the morning sun whilst draped over the picnic table in front of our trailer.  The rest of the morning was rather routine until we got to work.

As we entered the General Store around 1:15 pm I noticed my co-workers in the 'Fountain' were getting slammed.....the line of customers was about 25 deep and getting longer.  I thought....."Oh my, here we go!".  By the time I returned to begin my shift at 1:30 the store was virtually empty.  There were NO customers in the queue at the 'Fountain', and that is how the rest of Sunday went.....we had perhaps the slowest afternoon since we arrived on June 15th!  We would get small flurries of activity, but it never got really busy.  I think we served maybe a dozen customers in the last 90 minutes before closing the fountain.

All the while we got an unexpected rain/lightning/thunder storm that went on for about 4 hours.....at times the rain was torrential, and then it began to hail.  Suddenly the store began to fill up with people, but they were just milling around trying to get dry, while waiting out the rain/hail/lightning/thunder storm.  We did sell, unsurprisingly, quite a few inexpensive rain ponchos.

My Sunday 'CLOSE' shift partner was still out with the back injury, one of my other 'Fountain' co-workers offered to split their shift leaving around 3 pm, and coming back at 6 pm to finish the shift with me so there would be at least two of us.  As it turned out I probably could have handled everything by myself, but who would have known?  As a result of the unexpected rain storm the temperatures inside the store stayed quite pleasant and we actually were able to turn off one of the fans.

This coming Thursday through Sunday we have our annual Delaware North 'Employee Discount' days in which we get 50% off retail on everything in the store except grocery, liquor and 'Fountain' items.  I have my eye on a set of Nikon 10 x 42 binoculars.  I have never owned a high quality set, and have always been disappointed in what every I have bought in the past mainly because I really knew nothing about them.  All that changed when I met J.R. on our first shift at the General Store.  J.R. is an expert on spotting scopes, and binoculars so I spent a few days peppering him with questions about what would best suit our purposes, what would work for both TLE and I.  Ultimately I settled on the Nikon 10 x 42 which has a retail value of $183 meaning I will be able to obtain them for $91.50.....score!

Since business was so light my co-worker and I had the 'Fountain' cleaned by 8:50 pm, so I spent some time standing outside on the porch in the cool evening air waiting for TLE to finish her shift.  By the time we punched the clock it had stopped raining, and the temps had dropped into the high 50's already......sweet!

Well, today (Monday) will be our 6th day in a row working, but that is just a one time occurrence, thankfully. We'll be working 11 am to 7 pm and it will be nice to get off earlier, so we can get to bed earlier, and then get up earlier to go do some more YNP exploring!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, July 16, 2017


7:33 am - Sunday - 60º F, humidity 73%, wind 6 mph out of the southeast......light rain.....rained on an off since 6 pm last night.   From my vantage point here at YRVP the wind is gusting to 20+ mph and I see a wall of rain approaching from the south very quickly.  Satellite TV reception is non-existent.   We had a lot of lightning and thunder last night, but none so far this morning.  All that being said, the forecast high is 87º F for today in Garidiner, MT.....a little lower at Mammoth Hot Springs, which is 1,000 feet higher.

Saturday was a lot like Friday.....when 11 am rolled around it was time to turn on the A/C, and we left it on until we left for work, at which time we opened the windows and shut down the A/C.....leaving the salon window open turned out to be a mistake.....more on that later!

We lounged around until 12:30 when we began to get ready to drive into work once again.  We were in the car by 1 pm, and on our way up the Gardiner River gorge for another day at the General Store.  While there was a long line of vehicles in front of us we still managed to arrive at the General Store by 1:15 pm.

One of our co-workers injured their back on their off day.....they made a valiant effort to work, but scooping ice cream with a bad back was not in the cards so they headed off to the local YNP clinic and then home for rest of the shift.  This person also had the 'CLOSE" shift with me, so we had to scramble to move another 'CLOSE' shift person into the fountain.  I once again pulled my cashier drawer and acted as cashier for the last 4 hours of my shift.

It began to, unexpectedly, rain about 6 pm, and continued raining on and off all night.  It was accompanied by some pretty bright lightning flashes, and loud thunder rolls.  This, of course, helped bring the temperatures down into the 70's inside, and 60's outside making the rest of the evening much more comfortable.

Another of our co-workers in the store, someone I have not gotten to know yet, quit after being here since April, and that caused a shake up in the scheduling.  Like most of the hospitality industry, the only constant in life here is change.  It became necessary to juggle the schedule to make sure there were enough cashiers on duty, so our off days have been changed to Tuesday/Wednesday, and we now have two 'MID' shifts thrown in for good measure.....Monday's and Thursday's, otherwise we still have the 'CLOSE' shift Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday's.  So our new work week runs from Thursday through Monday each week.....I'm reminded of a David Bowie song entitles 'Cha-cha-cha-changes'......

'Changes' by David Bowie

Having worked in the 'hospitality' industry these past 4 summers we understand the fluidity of work schedules, and management's need to make quick adjustments to scheduling based on personnel availability and changing circumstances, so we have learned to just roll with the changes.  That is the nature of 'hospitality', right?  At our prior job at TVC we have always accepted the needed changes to our work schedule, however, a few of this year's crop of TVC employees (some of whom I was responsible for recruiting) would complain to our supervisors whenever the slightest change in scheduling occurred, and management would cave.  This was the beginning of the turmoil which eventually resulted in our resignations in late May.  I understand that as of today some 14 people, including ourselves, have quit TVC  this summer and moved on to other opportunities.  In the prior 3 summers we worked at TVC we had three people quit in total....TOTAL.  If people are happy, and management is doing its job 14 people don't quit in the space of 5 weeks.  Management may have a different opinion, but I believe the numbers speak for themselves.

We were on our way home by 9:40 pm with an extra passenger....we gave a ride home to the spouse of the person who injured their back and had to go home early.   We're just about finished watching the original 'Twin Peaks' series from 1990-91....there were just two seasons, and the second season had 22 episodes....we finished episode 21 and then went to bed.  Now the HBO continuation of this old series will make more sense.

On the open salon window mistake......when I sat down at my laptop this morning to compose today's missive I discovered the throw rug was damp......doh!  It's outside now drying in the sun, which just came out.

Another day in paradise.....thanks for stopping by!

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Saturday, July 15, 2017



7:04 am - Saturday - 56º F, 62% humidity, wind - CALM.....partly cloudy (as it almost always is these days) with a forecast high of 90º F.....oy vey......another hot one on tap for the General Store!

One of the things I have not talked about in my blog is how we get our mail forwarded to us.  For years I shared an office with my son, Chris, and since his mother and I began traveling full time almost 6 years ago he has kindly agreed to be our mail forwarding service.  My official 'home' address is his office, and I mostly have mail sent to his P.O. Box.  Since we (TLE & I) are mostly paperless, and pay all our bills online we rarely have mail that needs to be forwarded.  The primary things he forwards to us is registration renewal notices for our vehicles (Newell, VW and American Trailer), and Social Security stuff.  I then pay them online, and the renewal tags are mailed, once again, to his address.  I recently renewed the tags for the VW online, which expire in July, and he received them from the California DMV at his office within a week.  He immediately mailed them to me at our new P.O. Box here in Yellowstone National Park on June 30th.......the envelope just arrived on July 14th....

.....I just had to take a picture of the envelope showing our YNP mailing address, sans the actual box number, of course!  I was not expecting it to take 14 days to reach us, but there was that pesky 4th of July long weekend in the middle of it all.  At any rate, Chris probably forwards mail to us 4-5 times a year to wherever we may be at the time, and we are very grateful!  I am sure, at some point in the future, that we will begin to subscribe to a regular mail forwarding service, but for now it is nice to have family doing the sorting of our personal mail, and tossing out the junk.

We had the A/C on by 11 am Friday......until then it was quite pleasant, but within a few minutes it became uncomfortable.  It's almost as if someone flips a switch and within minutes it begins to feel hot.

We were on our way to work by 1 pm once again, and parking our car in the employee parking lot 15 minutes later.  The line at the North Gate rarely has more than 3-4 cars in it at 1 pm, which is nice.  When we did the 'MID' shift the line would sometimes stretch all the way back to the Roosevelt Arch.....about 1/4 mile!  Since we are employees we have a special road we can take which joins the main road just before the gate allowing us to skip ahead of the long, long line.  This is another reason why we love the 'CLOSE' shift.....very little traffic at 1 pm!

With the box fan we moved into the 'Fountain' Thursday still in place Friday, so the temp stayed quite comfortable all afternoon.  Please don't misunderstand....it was still hot....just more pleasant with the fan moving air.  I was able to pull my cashier drawer for the first time in a week, or so and spent most of my 7.5 hours as cashier giving my right arm a much needed rest from scooping ice cream!

TLE spent some time reading our employee handbook the other day and discovered that women of the female variety are allowed to wear blue denim skirts as long as they come to the knee, so when we were in the Goodwill in Bozemen the other day she found a blue denim skirt and is now wearing it to work......she says it is much, much more comfortable than jeans, and much cooler.  I wonder if I got a blue denim kilt they would let me wear it to work?  Hmmmm???

We were off work by 9:40 pm and making a stop at the Post Office where I found the aforementioned envelope waiting for me in my P.O. Box.  I was getting concerned about those renewal tags for the VW as we only have two weeks left before I would become illegal.

Okay, time to wrap up this installment and get to watching the finish of today's Tour de France leg.....thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, July 14, 2017


6:19 am - Friday - 49º F, 68% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the east southeast....partly cloudy with a forecast high of 89º F.....it's going to be hot in the General Store!

What a day!  Thursday was the hottest day so far at Mammoth Hot Springs General Store with inside temps hitting just over 90º F.  I am, however, finally getting acclimated to the higher temperatures of summer once again.  But, I get slightly ahead of myself.

In our original site here at YRVP we had a clear, unobstructed view of the southern sky, however, in our new site there is a tree off the left front corner of the Newell that partially blocks that view.  I thought I could live with a satellite signal in the 69-70% range, but after a month the tree has leafed out more, and my signal was down to 49-50%, so it was time to address the 'growing' problem.  On Tuesday I had actually gotten out my portable Winegard 'Carry Out' dish to see if I could find a better view of the southern sky within the two sites I occupy, but was not successful in getting any signal, so Wednesday I was determined to try another solution......move the Newell forward 2+ feet to get a better angle around the offending tree.

I had to disconnect the sewer, and take off the wheel covers before moving the Newell, and then figure out how far forward I could move without intruding into the 'street'.....that ended up being just about 2 feet.  After moving the Newell, and re-leveling I dialed in the Winegard crank up dish once again......victory!  I was able to get the signal up to 79-80%!  That is a big improvement!  How long until the offending tree's growth causes a problem again?  We'll see.

We left, as is our custom, for work at 1 pm.  We have been running our rear A/C on the Newell for about an hour each day as we get dressed for work, then shutting it off and opening up all the windows.  By the time we get home at 10 pm it is relatively comfortable inside.  Sometimes, however, we have to turn on the A/C when we get home for about 30 minutes to cool down the interior, but we don't see any point in leaving the A/C on all day while we are gone.

As I have written previously, there is no A/C in the General Store where we work.  There are 10-12 ceiling fans scattered throughout the store, and another half dozen portable fans to keep air moving on the main floor, but the last week, or so, it gets pretty warm from about 2 pm to 6 pm.  In the 'Fountain' we are surrounded by heat generating equipment.....two hot dog rollers, a chili cooker, a nacho cheese heating machine, an ice making machine that puts off heat, the main ice cream freezer which puts off heat while keeping the ice cream from melting, and finally the pretzel machine......we are encircled in this wall of heat that seems to cling to our corner of the store.  We have been gradually adding fans trying to disperse that heat......we now have 3 fans in our corner of the store, and it is now getting more tolerable.  Of course, as I mentioned earlier in this missive, I am also gradually acclimating to the higher daily temps.

We emptied 19 tubs of ice cream in the 'Fountain' on Thursday, and the line in front of the fountain did not begin to dissipate until 5:30 pm.  It was never a long line, but there were always 8-10 folks in line from 1:30 to 5:30.  TLE and I took our 'lunch' at 5:30 just as things were quieting down.  It never got super busy again, but the time still passed quickly.

Once again at 9:45 pm we were on our way down the Gardiner River gorge carving the turns, and enjoying the cool night air rushing in through our open sunroof.  Life is good!

As has often been the case with the numerous workamping jobs we have worked in the almost 6 years we have been nomads it always comes down to the people we work with that make each job worthwhile.  We are thoroughly enjoying the folks we work with each day, and that kind of pushes the hot temps into the background of our thoughts.  It is the new friendships that we take away from this current work experience that will hold a special place in our hearts for years to come.

Thanks for stopping by!!

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