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Friday, September 22, 2017

Last day of 'Summer'.........

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7:42 am - Friday - September 22nd - 33º F, 94% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the north by northwest......heavy cloud cover......snow on the ground......


.....and it is beginning to snow again......forecast high for today is 48º F in Gardiner, MT, and 43º F in Mammoth Hot Springs, WY with more snow over the next few hours.

Thursday began wet and cold, and continued that way all day, into the evening and all night long.  Fortunately here in Gardiner any snow that fell did not stick, but some of it did up in Mammoth Hot Springs, however, by the time we arrived it had melted.  Nonetheless, it was quite cold up there all day never getting into the 40's on the last official day of Summer.

We had the 'CLOSE' shift Thursday which had us arriving at the Mammoth Hot Springs General Store around 11:15 am.  We arrived to a very quite store......very few customers, and for most of the day the employees outnumbered the customers.  I was the cashier in the 'Fountain' for my entire shift and did not scoop a single scoop of ice cream for my entire shift.

We said our 'until next times to three more of our fellow co-workers with 5-6 more leaving in the next few days.  We are now short timers too.....our last work day will be October 2nd which is just over a week away.....WOW!

I worked most of my shift with my good friend Roscoe, and we spent a lot of time talking about our summer, and the friendships we had formed.  This was the first workamping experience for Roscoe and Geni and in the end they came to the same conclusion we did years ago.......in the end it is the people we meet and befriend along the way which is the best thing about this nomadic life.

We were on our way home shortly after 8 pm and by 8:15 were enjoying the sound of rain on our aluminum roof......wondering if we would wake up to a fresh snowfall.....thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cooting out......

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8:12 am - Thursday - September 21st - 35º F, humidity 99%, wind - CALM......rained all night, and is still raining as I write......forecast high is 48º F in Gardiner, MT and 41º F in Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.

Wed-nes-day was another day of relaxation......another day of doing pretty much nothing, but that's okay.  Sometimes you just need a couple of days in a row where you just read and nap, and maybe even watch a few hours of  'American Pickers'......I call it 'cooting out'.  I love watching Mike and Frank find cool, old, crusty stuff.  We topped off the day watching a few more episodes of 'Mad Men' on Netflix......we have wonderful Verizon broadband here in Gardiner, and then it was off to slumberland once again.  Apparently there were 8 'Mad Men' seasons and we are somewhere in the middle of Season 2 now.....a long ways to go.

I'm beginning to make lists in my head of what needs to be done before we can roll our wheels, and for a change it is not that much.  We haven't deployed a lot of stuff this summer, so it should not take an inordinate amount of time to put it away.  Our plan is to be ready to roll our wheels the morning of October 4th up to Livingston, MT where we will plug in the Newell in a local RV park, then drive into the Billings, MT airport on the morning of the 5th to catch a flight south to SoCal for our son Tim's wedding.

There is not much else to report other than the weather is getting colder and wetter day by day......the wet part is nice as the rain has been steadily washing all the dust and dirt accumulation from the summer off the trailer and Newell.  It rained on and off most of Wednesday and the ground is getting saturated.

Time to begin to get ready for another day of work.....we have the 'CLOSE' shift.....beginning Monday the store hours will change from 8 am - 8 pm to 9 am - 6 pm, and there will be just one shift called 'OPEN/CLOSE'.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Night and day......

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8:19 am - Wednesday - September 20th - 37º F, humidity 68%, wind 6 mph out of the south southeast.....feels and sounds more like 10-15 mph.....heavy cloud cover....forecast is for 50% chance of rain and a high in Gardiner, MT of 52º F, and 46º F for Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.  Got down to 50º F inside the coach last night......perfect sleeping weather, no?  As of today, Wednesday, we have precisely 2 weeks until we roll our 14 wheels (Newell = 6, trailer = 4, VW = 4......total = 14.....not putting the VW in the trailer for the 52 mile jaunt up to Livingston) north to Livingston where we will leave the Newell and trailer whilst we drive into Billings to catch our flight south for our son Tim's wedding.

Tuesday was probably the first off day in a long time we have not gone anywhere, or done anything.......I personally dedicated Tuesday to finishing up my 2016 tax returns (state and federal) so I can file them by the extension deadline of 10/15/2017.  Since we travel full time not all the documentation we require to complete our tax returns catches up with us by April 15th each year so we have always filed for a 6 month extension, and I almost always put off finishing my returns until the last minute.  In past years it has taken me the better part of a day to do finish them, but now that we no longer have dependents, no more 1099 income, and no more mortgage interest to claim it has become much less complicated.  I was able to complete our state and federal 2016 returns in less than 3 hours from beginning to end, and that included going into ADP to print down our W-2's from TVC (Equity Lifestyles, Inc.)......as has been the case for the 3 years we worked there our W-2's are never mailed to us.....thank goodness for ADP, right?

While I was in the middle of 'tax season' TLE did her workout, and then went to the Gardiner Market to do a 'small shopping'.  By the time she returned it was just a matter of us signing and dating the returns and then getting on with our day.  I spent some time reading (finished the 4th book of Stephen King's 7 volume Dark Tower series and began the 5th.....way better than the movie!).  There were, of course, a few naps thrown in for good measure.  Finally around 4 pm I got around to doing my workout (stationary bike, pushups, situps, lower back exercises, etc.), and then it was time for 'Happy Hour'.  In all I stepped outside the Newell twice Tuesday.....once for my workout in the trailer, and the second time to dispose of our trash.....otherwise I spent all day inside the Newell.

In closing I have a few thoughts to share regarding our three months working for Delaware North.  From our very first contact with them back in early June until today I have been very impressed with the professionalism of every single person I have come in contact with from our HR representative, to the staff which conducted our 6 hour orientation class, to the managers of the various General Stores within Yellowstone.  To a person they all hold themselves to a very high professional standard without fail.  It is obvious to me that the upper management folks who hire those with whom we have had contact know what they are doing, and are good judges of people.  This professional attitude is not just here in Yellowstone, but has continued in our contacts with a completely different Delaware North HR office which handles the Grand Canyon General Stores.  Every e-mail is answered promptly, and every phone call is returned promptly.  The information given via these two communication mediums as well as their website has always been spot on accurate.  There are never any broken promises, and their managers return year after year to work for them.  A good example of this loyalty is our manager here at the Mammoth Hot Springs General Store.....she has worked for Delaware North year round for almost 17 years.  She leads by example.....doesn't micro manage her employees, and keeps her word.....when there is an employee problem she deals with it promptly, professionally, and effectively......I cannot ask for more.....would you?  Contrast this experience with our three years working for Equity Lifestyles, Inc........night and day....and that is all I have to say about that.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wild life......

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8:18 am - Tuesday - September 19th - 43º F, humidity 95%, wind 3 mph out of the north by northwest......heavy cloud cover.....rained ALL night long.....suweet!  We are off today and Wednesday......double suweet!

Monday we had the 'MID2' shift (10:30 am to 6:30 pm).......we were hoping for a moderately busy day, but got something more in line with Saturday......very, very unbusy.  So, what do you do during an unbusy day?  Check out the local wild life, of course.......




.......this bull elk took up residence about 100 yards from the employee parking lot in the rear of the store, and remained there all day long......we spent time photographing him throughout the unbusy day.

We were expecting rain again by Tuesday morning, however, the front moved in earlier than expected and it began to sprinkle around 5:30, and that continued until a little after 7 pm when it began to rain steadily....never very hard.


So, there you have it.....another unbusy day.....things are beginning to wind down.  The funny thing is we get comments from our customers asking how we can deal with the store being so 'busy'.  We kind of chuckle, knowing it is not even remotely busy, and say....."we can handle it because we are professionals!"  It's all a matter of perspective, I guess.

We were on our way home by 6:30 pm slipping down the Gardiner River Gorge one more time.  It was difficult to watch satellite TV due to the heavy cloud cover and wind that was causing the trees on either side of our site to block what satellite signal we were getting, so we watched a recorded episode of 'Last Ship'.  We tuned into 'So You Think You Can Dance' after that, but the signal was pretty poor.  We were headed off to slumberland by 11 pm looking forward to 'sleeping in'.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunday fun day.......

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7:01 am - Monday - September 18th - 41º F, 66% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the south.......cloudy with a 50% chance of rain.....forecast high for Gardiner, MT 59º F, and 59º F for Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.

Sunday was the complete opposite of Saturday in almost every conceivable way.....it was sunny, warmer, no clouds, no snow, no rain, and a lot more customers....a lot more customers.  For me that was a good thing, not a bad thing.....more customers means we stay busy, and when we stay busy time passes more quickly.

My buddies (Roscoe & Patsy) and I held down the fort most of the afternoon.....business was steady and it felt good to be processing customer orders and purchases on a regular basis.....Roscoe and his wife, Geni, will be departing YNP in a week, so Saturday is their last day at the General Store.....Patsy's last day was Saturday, and she is leaving this Tuesday....I will miss them both a lot.....

Me and my buddy Roscoe

......I told TLE at 'lunch' (taken at 3:30 pm it feels more like an early dinner) that I finally felt like I was 100% again after feeling below par for about a week.  

Even with more customers it never got to the point where I would characterize us as being 'slammed'......it was just steady, and steady keeps us engaged in what we are doing.....we never felt overwhelmed.  I guess it's all a matter of perspective......there were times early in the season when the number of customers we had Sunday would have seemed overwhelming as we were all still learning our jobs, and getting used to being cashiers....now we are 'old pros' and pretty much unflappable.....we just take one customer at a time.....we just focus on the person in front of us and ignore the long line.  Before  you know it the line has disappeared and you have a chance to step back and clear your head once again.

Roscoe left for home at 5:30 pm when Taylor arrived to help me close out the shift......TLE and I were on our way home just before 8 pm with another day in the books.  I had set the Cowboy vs. Denver Broncos game to record so I could watch it when I got home......what a game it was.....well, it was a great game for the Broncos who won handily 42-17.....it wasn't really that close.  Sunday was a fun day!

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Snow day........

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8:16 am - Sunday - September 17th - 35º F, humidity 82%, wind 6 mph out of the east southeast......partly cloudy.....forecast high for Gardiner, MT is 59º F, and 55º F in Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.

I fully expected to wake up Saturday to snow covering the ground around the Newell, but there was only a slight dusting on top of our picnic table, however, there was quite a bit of snow visible up the mountain towards Mammoth Hot Springs.

We were on our way up the Gardiner River Gorge by 11 am, and pulling into Mammoth Hot Springs by 11:15 am to a winter wonderland.......

 The Yellowstone National Park Post Office at Mammoth Hot Springs.....my post office.....all the green grass is covered with snow!

 TLE snapped this great picture of a bull elk

 The General Store from the employee parking lot

The hot springs are steaming

.....as a result of the snowfall the only way north to Mammoth Hot Springs from the south end of the park, Dunraven Pass, was closed for a number of hours which resulted in a library like atmosphere at the General Store.....very few customers....so we made our own fun.....

Somehow I managed to miss being in this picture (whew!)....these are my zany co-workers sporting silly hats, many of which we actually sell in the General Store (picture taken by one of our customers)

 Taylor and I 'winding it down'....first time I've worn my company issued jacket all summer.....it was chilly in the store!

 Patsy.....one of my favorites....always cleaning....I love this woman!

.....we spent about 85% of our time laughing and talking Saturday.....I don't think we got very busy until around 5 pm, but even then it was not that busy.  TLE and I had the 'CLOSE' shift Saturday, and were on our way home by 7:30 pm.....one more week of 8 am to 8 pm store hours, then we shift to 9 am to 6 pm with the 'Fountain' closing at 5 pm each day.

Just as we were getting in the VW for our drive home I snapped this picture of Bunsen Peak.....it was only a few weeks ago that we were at the top watching the solar eclipse.....now it is covered in snow.....

Bunsen Peak shrouded in clouds and snow....we were up there on 8/21 for the solar eclipse

......we were home before 8 pm relaxing.....me watching the Texas vs. USC game.....it was much closer than it should have been, and USC came close to losing the game, but they prevailed in the end winning in the second overtime period 27-24 on a 42 yard field goal by their freshman 'walk-on' place kicker.

Time is becoming more precious as this coming week 10 of our co-workers/friends will be departing for new adventures leaving about 9-10 of us to hold down the fort.....by mid October there will be 5-6 left.  

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

It would have been nice......

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7:53 am - Saturday - September 16th - 32º F, humidity 100%, wind 3 mph out of the west northwest.....heavy cloud cover and a sprinkling of snow on our picnic table.....the power went off again around 12 am......got down to 48º F inside our Newell.....power came back on at 5 pm.....this morning would be much different if we still had no power.  Forecast high today in Gardiner, MT is 46º F, and 39º F in Mammoth Hot Springs, WY......I can see snow on the mountains to the south of us, so there is probably snow on the ground in Mammoth Hot Springs.

We had the 'MID1' shift (9:30 am to 5:30 pm) once again on Friday......the temp at Mammoth Hot Springs never got above 37º F.....all the doors and windows were closed all day, and there were no fans running.  It was the first time in over 2 months I was happy to be surrounded by heat making equipment.

Friday was, by far, the slowest day this summer in the General Store.  We stood talking about this and that, and on the rare occasions when a customer approached the 'Fountain' it was almost irritating that we had to interrupt our conversation to conduct business.....😊


It rained all morning and into the afternoon, and around 4 pm it began to snow......



......I had been seeing posts on Facebook from friends around the park and saw it was snowing at Old Faithful, Dunraven Pass, and West Yellowstone......as the title to yesterday's missive declared.....'And Summer becomes Winter', winter seems to have arrived in Yellowstone National Park with no courtship, and certainly no apologies......just a week ago it was 90º F.  The snow never stuck to the ground, but it did begin sticking to our VW just before the end of our shift.

We said goodbye to two more co-workers Friday.....Anthony and Peter who are from Ghana, and are returning to university in the Czech Republic.  We enjoyed their work ethic, and we enjoyed getting to know them over the course of the last 5, or 6 weeks.....they will be missed!

We were off work at 5:30 pm, and home by 5:45 pm turning on heaters to take the chill off the interior.  I also switched out my fresh water hose for the heated water hose I bought last April when we arrived at TVC to freezing temperatures at night.  We will have mostly sub 30 temps the next two weeks, with a few nights in the high teens, so we are quite happy we bought that hose.  It would have been nice to have a few weeks of Fall weather prior to our departure on October 5th, but that was not to be.

As I write, we have lost power again (around 8 am) and have been running the big 7.5 kw generator to power our electric heaters for the last 45 minutes.....hoping power is restored before we leave for work today at 11 am!

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