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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Good news!

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7:24 am - Wednesday - 51º F, 80% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the east southeast.....partly cloudy (personal observation), with a forecast high of 69º F.

Our Jello plan had been to do some more exploration of YNP, but the Jello jiggled, and we got periodic thunder/lightning storms passing through our river valley all day long, so we opted to remain home and just enjoy a laid back day of doing nothing in particular.......well, I did....TLE was very ambitious.....she prepared a number of work 'lunches' in advance, did some cleaning, and then hemmed up two pairs of jeans I had purchased back in SLT to serve as my required Delaware North uniform (blue jeans, and navy blue shirts).  She is a magician with a sewing machine, and although the task undertaken was difficult for her due to the thickness of the material she successfully completed it, and I now have 3 pairs of jeans to rotate for the duration of our time here at the Mammoth Hot Springs General Store.

The direction of the wind continued to switch from one point of the compass to another all day long....sometimes the periodically sideways rain would come from the passenger side of the Newell, and then it would switch and come from the other side.  There was the intermittent sound of distant thunder.....we never saw any lightning.  Nonetheless, it was delightful to watch the various storm cells sweep up and down the valley all day long from the comfort and warmth of the Newell.  It is nice not to have the time constraints of a 2, or 3 week vacation where you must keep site seeing no matter what the weather is as you have a finite amount of time to see 'everything'.....we still have over 3 months to see 'everything', and even then I will be surprised if we actually see 'everything'.  I'm pretty confident, however, we will see 'everything' that is important to us to see.

According to the weather guessers we will get some more rain on Wednesday, so we'll see how much, if at all, that affects the foot traffic in our store.  It appears, if the 15 day forecasts are accurate, that we will have about 12 days of mid to high 80's temps beginning Saturday possibly getting into the low 90's once, or twice.....


We continue to get reports here and there about the goings on at TVC since we left......one piece of good news is the person whom I wrote about here has left TVC to work somewhere else for the rest of the summer.  I hope they haven't been 'promoted' to another 1,000 Trails park to torture another hapless group of nice folks, but who knows?  When you are dealing with a corporate culture that is loath to fire anyone, is more concerned with advancement up the corporate ladder, and which refers to 'demotion' as 'promotion' you just never know.  The only thing that matters to us right now is that we have peace of mind, the sleepless nights have slipped into the past, and we love our current working situation and fellow co-workers.....and we love not being in charge!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"YNP is the main attraction...."

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6:58 am - Tuesday - 59º F, 66% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the north northeast....heavy cloud cover with an 80% chance of rain today.

So Monday was our third day off since we have arrived and we planned to make the most of it, and that we did.  We began with somewhat modest plans for the day around 11 am, but as the day evolved we kept adding one thing after another to the list.  By the time we arrived back home at 6 pm we had covered a lot of ground.  The first thing on our list of things to do Monday was to hike a portion of the Rescue Creek Trail which begins just a mile south of the north gate.....


We hiked to the point where the red arrow is placed....about 1.5 miles in

.....this is a pretty long trail, and we had determined before we began the hike to only hike about 1.5 miles in making it about a 3 mile out and back hike.  By the time we began the hike it was approaching 11:40 am......



.....we stopped briefly on the bridge which spans the Gardiner River to take our first 'usie' of the day.....this creek has been running at full capacity since we arrived 11 days ago......

 You can see the bridge we crossed in this picture

.....the initial portion of the trail crosses a sun parched plain, and the double track trail across it seems impossibly long......


Glad I brought my 100 oz. Camelback®

....we came across some flowering cactus.....there was actually quite a lot of this cactus......


.....eventually we did cross that plain, gained some elevation to drop into this much greener valley.......


.....eventually we reached the 1.5 mile mark where we could just barely make out the Yellowstone River in the distance.....

The Yellowstone River is just below the red arrow....:-)

.....when we turned around we could see the town of Gardiner and the Roosevelt Gate.........


......we were back in view of the Gardiner River by 12:30 where I captured this great panorama shot..... 


.....next up was taking another 'usie' at the sign along the Gardiner River marking the half way point between the North Pole and the Equator....I think this is the second such picture we have taken over the past few years.....the last one was a couple of years ago in Oregon, also next to a river.....


......we've been working on our bronze level 'Yellowstone Adventure Guide' designation, and one of the things we need to complete the requirements for bronze is to visit another Delaware North General Store, so we decided on the spot to drive back to the Roosevelt Lodge to get our paperwork signed by one of the employees there, and then have lunch in the lodge.......

Sipping a glass of huckleberry lemonade

....I ordered their Elk Sliders to go along with my huckleberry lemonade......TLE had a trout dish.....the Elk Sliders were sooooo good!


On our way back we once again added one more thing to our to do list and stopped off to view the 'petrified tree'......apparently one of the volcanic eruptions a few million years ago covered the area in ash resulting in the petrification of some redwood trees which once flourished here......


.....originally there were three redwood trunks, but souvenir collectors had mostly destroyed two of the three trunks by 1906 when a fence was finally put around the remaining trunk.


About half way back to Mammoth Hot Springs we stopped at the 6900' elevation mark to capture this wonder view of the valley below......


.....and the ubiquitous Yellowstone River running through it.......again adjectives fail to provide an adequate description of the beauty which surrounds one everywhere in YNP........


.....the final stop on our way back to Mammoth was this self guided tour along a long circular boardwalk (the boardwalk is to protect the flora).......


.....as we came back around to the starting point we could see a storm building in the distance.....


......the wind and the rain caught up with us just as we parked the VW back at the Newell....it was a brief squall lasting about 20 minutes, and then the sun returned until sunset.

We had another wonderful day exploring YNP, and still cannot believe we have just barely nicked the YNP surface of things to see.  A friend who has worked in YNP previously gave us good advice recently.....she said "Remember, the job is not the main attraction....it is living in and exploring Yellowstone National Park that is the main attraction.....".  Each day we remind ourselves we are not here for the job, we are here to experience Yellowstone!

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Monday, June 26, 2017

'Friday' on my mind......

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8:44 am - Monday - 59º F, 57% humidity, wind 4 mph out of the east......cloudless skies for the second day in succession.  No work today....slept in until 8:30 am......yeah! Forecast high for Monday is 87º F!

So, once again Sunday was our Friday.  The days are beginning to pass by quickly before we know it we will be in the midst of the 4th of July weekend.  I love waking up to soft zephyrs wafting through my open window then washing across my face as the sun gradually begins to light up our bedroom.....such a pleasant way to awake to another day.  Since I still had about 5 hours before work I spent some time attempting to remove the grime on the coach resulting from the rains we drove through on our way up to YNP.  I worked in the shade on the passenger side of the coach....no point in working in direct sunlight if one does not need to do so.  I managed to get most of the front, passenger side, and part of the rear done before it was time for lunch, and a short nap before getting dressed for work.

We arrived at the Mammoth Hot Springs General Store around 1:20 pm to find the store jammed with vacationers......


.....I managed to get this pano picture, and then it really got busy!  The next 5+ hours were a blur and then it  was 'lunch' time (6 pm on this day).  After our 'lunch' it slowed down considerably, but for a while between 1:30 and 6 pm the line for the fountain was almost to the door at the front of the store.  I didn't notice how long the line was as I was just focusing on the next person in line.....that's all you can do when it gets that busy.....one customer at a time.  If you don't approach it that way you will wilt under the pressure.

For the first time since last Saturday I pulled my cash drawer and acted as cashier for the last two hours.  I'm still loving working in the 'Fountain' as it offers more variety than simply standing in one place at the cashier desk scanning customer's items.  I need variety to make the time pass and make the job more interesting, and the 'Fountain' provides that in spades.

We were home by 10 pm relishing the thought of two days away from work, and doing some more exploring of YNP!  Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

YNP - 10 Days In......

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8:28 am - Sunday - 52º F, 66% humidity, wind 2 mph out of south southeast......blue skies from horizon to horizon.....forecast high will be 80º F.

As reported we were back to the 'CLOSE' shift, which I think we prefer.  I realize that they tend to move you from shift to shift, but I would not be unhappy if they left us on the 'CLOSE' shift the rest of the summer.

Since we didn't have to leave for work until 1 pm I took time to do a hand wash on the VW as it was looking pretty sad, and then vacuumed out a few weeks of sand and other debris.  I'm starting to feel at home and develop new routines.

We were at work by 1:20 pm....since I work in the Fountain my shift begins at 1:30 pm and ends at 9:30 pm while TLE's shift as a cashier begins at 1:45 pm and ends at 9:45 pm.  The fountain closes at 8:30 pm and the store closes at 9:30 pm......it takes about 40-45 minutes to clean up the Fountain after a day of slinging ice cream, chili dogs, nacho cheese, etc. so I still have 15-20 minutes at the end of my shift before I 'clock out' for the night.

When we arrived the afternoon rush was in full swing and I was immediately busy salting and heating pretzels to refill the pretzel machine, and from there until 5 pm (lunch time) it seemed like a blur.  Suddenly TLE was there reminding me it was 5 and time for lunch......

Sitting outside after lunch enjoying the sun for a few minutes

......for the rest of the shift the Fountain traffic was steady, but never overwhelming.  Soon it was time to begin cleaning up the Fountain and get ready to head for the barn one more time.....

TLE 'counting down' her drawer

.....we were home by 10 with our feet up and sipping cocktails.  Our feet are slowly adjusting to being stood upon for 8 hours, and we both are comfortable that we now know the parameters of our jobs.  We were in bed by midnight.

Mean while, back at the 'ranch' more of our fellow co-workers are coming to the point where they may be leaving TVC, also.  The working environment continues to deteriorate, and many are not happy......just reconfirms our decision to leave when we did.  

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

The pay off......

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7:35 am - Saturday -  43º F, humidity 75%, wind 1 mph out of the south southeast....clear blue skies from horizon to horizon......forecast high for this day is 71º F.....a great day to be in YNP!

As of Friday we have now been at YNP for 9 days, and 8 in Gardiner/YNP, and we have been gone from TVC for 2 weeks......seems like much longer since so much has transpired in that time.  Friday was also our first payday here in YNP....we will be paid each Friday, which is cool.....nice to see dollars flowing into your bank account on a weekly basis.  It feels good to be just a 'worker bee' once again, and just be told what to do.  We are privileged to work with people who have a strong, moral work ethic.  Those who are in charge maintain a distinctly professional decorum in the store, and I cannot tell you how much that is appreciated.  There is something about the way Delaware North is run that is head and shoulders above a couple other leisure and hospitality companies out there.....they (the couple others) pretend to be professional....even appear to be professionally run at first blush, but in reality fall far, far short of that mark as our recent experience has taught us.  

So today I thought I would give you a pictorial tour of our work environment........


Moi....I don't know where that goofy smile came from.....:-)

......here I am working in the 'Fountain'....I know my smile looks goofy, but my new job and environment make me feel just a little bit giddy right now......


.......I spend a lot of time restocking the 'Super Pretzel' machine.....these things sell like 'hotcakes'! Another big seller is ice cream.....do we sell a lot of ice cream!  Our flavors are (top row, left to right) 'Graham Slam' (Graham Crackers and Vanilla), 'Montana Moose Moss' (mint chocolate), Vanilla, Strawberry Cheescake, (bottom row left to right) 'Chocolate Runs Through It' (obvious), Huckleberry, Peanut Butter Chocolate, and 'Stuck In A Rut' (French vanilla with caramel swirls, and caramel drops dipped in chocolate)........


......then comes the ubiquitous 'Nacho Cheese' machine, and soft drink dispenser........


......next to the Pretzel Machine is the chili cooker....people actually order chili cheese dogs for breakfast here........oh my!


.....somehow I missed a picture of our two hot dog roller machines where we cook our all beef hot dogs and bratwurst.....


.....looking eastward across the store you can see TLE in the middle of the picture scanning items for a customer prior to purchase.....on her right is our new friend 'JR' who has really helped us settle into our jobs.....he is just another 'worker bee' as we are, but he really makes an effort to help the 'newbies' get acclimated......


......and finally a 'pano' of our work environment looking east from the 'Fountain'......


.....just a quick note......I refer to 'JR' as a friend.....we just met him 8 days ago, but have become more than just acquaintances in that short time, and that is the way it is in the nomadic community......you move from mere acquaintances to friends in such a short period of time.  It is one of the enduring qualities of this lifestyle which we cherish on a daily basis.

The morning part of our 'OPEN' shift was slow, and that is to be expected.  By 1 pm things were going full throttle, and the remaining portion of our 'OPEN' shift passed quickly.  We were on our way home just after 3:15 pm feeling a little more energetic than prior days......as we settle into our new routine and things become more familiar we feel a little less drained each day.  The one thing we are both STILL getting used to, however, is standing on our feet for 8 hours a day......each day is a little better, but it does take a couple of weeks for your feet to stop 'barking'.

We just got the schedule for the next work week beginning this Monday and see that we are both on 'CLOSING' for that time period......kind of nice to settle into a routine.....we actually like this shift the best as we can sleep in, and don't have to be at work until 1:30 pm....gives us more time to do things in the morning.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

The 'OPEN'.....

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5:44 am - Friday - 35º F, 75% humidity, wind - CALM - clear skies (they are not blue at 5:44 am), with a forecast high of 71º F.

Thursday was our first 'OPEN' shift meaning we had to be on the floor and ready to work by 7:15 am.  Getting up super early is not one of my favorite things, but knowing you also get off work super early (3:15 pm) is a good incentive.  Another added benefit is that on this shift things do not get busy until around 1 pm when you've only got 2.25 hours of work to go.

Since it was not busy early on I got to run the cash register  for an hour, or so.  Most of the items we sell in the 'Fountain' do not need to be scanned.....you just hit one of the 'hot item' keys such as 'Coffee', 'Soft Drink', 'Pretzel', 'Ice Cream - Single Scoop', etc.....believe it, or not, we do sell a surprising amount of ice cream before 10 am!  At any rate, there is a new menu to learn for the 'Fountain' so I was happy to be able to learn it with no pressure of long lines.

The daily high temp might have been around 70º F......the 9 degree reduction from the day before  made a big difference in the temperature inside the store making it a much more comfortable day.  Things did eventually get quite busy around 1 pm as expected and the last two hours passed by quickly.

Nothing much more to report about the day......we were off promptly at 3:15 pm and headed over to the Visitor's Center with two of our fellow workers to begin our 'Adventure Guide' program.  You begin at the 'Bronze' level by paying a visit to a 'Visitor's Center', visiting another Delaware North general store, and then attending some sort of a Ranger led program and then passing a written test.  Eventually you pass through 'Silver', 'Gold' and finally 'Platinum'.....the goal is to get you out and visiting different parts of YNP.

We were home a little after 4 pm relaxing.....nothing like sitting in your recliner and getting your tired feet off the ground!  As we sat there relaxing we could hear the daily wind out of the north coming up the canyon.  Some days it is not too bad, but Thursday it was getting up to the 20's......now we know why NO ONE ever has their patio awnings deployed!

Around 9 pm we caught another beautiful sunset......


.....always a nice way to end any day!

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Shifting shifts......

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5:39 am - Thursday - 45º F, humidity 50%, wind - 2 mph out of the west.....clear blue skies from horizon to horizon....I think that's the first time since we have been here....forecast high today is 71º F.

We were back to work Wednesday doing the 'MID' shift thing again (11 am to 7 pm).  It was to be another warmish day......warm is a relative term.....when you are used to temps in the 50's and 60's it takes a while to acclimate to temps in the 80's.  Right now 80º F feels like 100º F to me.  The sun at this latitude (we are half way between the north and south poles) is pretty intense, especially when there are no clouds.  Needless to say it was a little warmer inside the store Wednesday.....there is no A/C, so the only way to cool it down it to open all the doors, which we do.

My job for the next 5 days is working in the Fountain where there is not only a pretzel machine putting off heat, but also the two hot dog 'rollers' putting off heat, which look just like this.....these babies are set at 165º F to initially heat up the hot dogs, and then stepped down to 135º F to keep them warm.......

Ours have the sneeze guards

.....we are in a corner of the store where there is not a lot of air circulation so you can imagine it gets a little warm.....then throw in 4-5 bodies putting off 98.6º each and it gets pretty warm at times.

Each 'General Store' is given a daily revenue goal based on prior seasons and our store has been exceeding that revenue goal by 25% each day.  We are told that it will get busier and busier as the summer progresses, which makes sense.  In the 'Fountain' we sell hot pretzels (with and without salt), nachos, hot dogs, chili dogs, chips, soft drinks, ice cream, & coffee.  When I say we sell ice cream I mean we sell a LOT of ice cream!  Each tub holds 3 gallons of ice cream.....we offer 8 flavors, and we go through about 20 tubs a day (20 tubs @ 3 gallons  = 60 gallons) right now.  Of course, the hotter it gets the more ice cream we sell, as one might imagine.

The store was pretty busy all day long, and when you are busy the time goes more quickly, and before we knew it 7 pm had arrived and we were on our way home.  Once again it was necessary to turn on our A/C, but within a hour the outside temps had cooled sufficiently allowing us to turn off the A/C.

Well, that was our Wednesday.....not very glamorous, except for the setting which is beyond spectacular.  Beginning Thursday we will have two consecutive 'OPEN' shifts in which we report for duty at 7:15 am.

Thanks for stopping by!

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