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Thursday, August 31, 2017

I'm not old enough........

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7:40 am - Thursday - August 31st - 50º F, humidity 67%, wind 3 mph out of the east northeast....partly cloudy with a forecast high in Gardiner, MT of 78º (40% chance of rain), and for Mammoth Hot Springs, WY 72º F.....a slight break in the mini heatwave.  Today is the 45th birthday of our firstborn, Chris.....I have to say that typing this sentence is almost surreal to me......intellectually I understand I have a 45 year old son, but I don't feel old enough to have a child that old.  TLE and I are so proud of him and all he has accomplished.....he is a good man, a very good husband, and a wonderful father.....Happy birthday Chris.  In addition, today is also the birthday of my oldest grandson, Christopher, born on the same day as his father 17 years past....WOW....17 years old today!

As is oft the case whenever I sleep in a new bed, in an unfamiliar location I don't sleep very well, and that is how it went for me Tuesday night/Wednesday morning......a little tossing and turning.  At any rate I was awake by 6 am, but stayed in bed until after 7 knowing I needed to be back in Gardiner for my haircut at 10 am.  Ultimately TLE and were packed and on our way home by 8:30, arriving a little after 9 am, and I was on my way into Gardiner for my long awaited haircut.  Usually I get a haircut every 4-5 weeks, but it had been about 7 weeks since July 10th and my hair was getting quite unruly.  There is only one person in Gardiner who cuts hair and that is Cari Theurer, and she only cuts hair 3 days each week (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday).....I contacted her about 10 days ago and Wednesday at 10 am was the first opening she had, so I took it. There was no way I was driving to Bozeman (72 miles distant), or even Livingston (52 miles away) just for a haircut!

I arrived at Cari's salon (located inside the 'Wash Tub Laundromat') just a few minutes before 10 am and was on my way out the door 25 minutes later after having secured another appointment for September 28th.....need to be sure my hair is presentable for my son's wedding on October 7th.

We had the 'CLOSE' shift Wednesday and subsequently reported for work about 15 minutes ahead of our start time (1:30 pm).....the store was pretty quiet, and it remained so for the rest of the day.  Yup, we have turned the corner and the tourist trade is beginning its annual decline.  Effective Monday, September 4th, the store hours will change from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm to 8 am to 8 pm......we are awaiting the new work schedule to see what shift we will have.....one thing we know is we will be reducing our work days down to 4 per week, with 3 days off each week.....now we can really begin to explore the southern reaches of YNP!

As can be expected with the end of the season in sight our co-workers are beginning to talk about their winter plans.  Over the next month we will begin to disperse to the four corners of the world heading for new adventures.  As for me, I am trying to stay focused on the present.....we have 5 wonderful weeks left in which to explore more of Yellowstone National Park.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A memorable anniversary celebration......

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10:01 pm - Wednesday - August 30th - 69º F, humidity 39%, wind 4 mph out of the southwest.....I'm about 14 hours behind in writing my blog post about Tuesday....had too much fun last night.

Back in July I began planning our 46th wedding anniversary celebration for August 29th.  My initial thought was to travel down to the Yellowstone Lake Hotel for dinner, and to spend the night there before returning to the north entrance.  Unfortunately, I was to learn that I should have been trying to make a hotel reservation a year in advance as every hotel in the park except for the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, was booked for the night of August 29th.  I was able to get dinner reservations for 8 pm on that date, but the thought of having to drive 70 miles back to Gardiner, MT after 10 pm, so I began working on plan 'B'.  

Plan 'B' ended up being a spa day at Chico Hot Springs (Pray, MT), dinner in their world class dinning  room, and spending the night in their hotel.  TLE booked 1 hour massages for us at the Chico Hot Springs Spa, and I took care of the dinner and hotel reservations.

So, Tuesday was the day we headed north on US-89 for Chico Hot Springs where we had visited twice previously.  We left the Newell around 8:55 am to make the 30 minute drive to Chico and arrived there just before 9:30 am.....TLE had the first massage at 9:45 am, so she dropped me off at the hot springs to secure 5 lounge chairs for us including three of our friends who were joining us later in the morning.....


The big pool at 9 am....very uncrowded!
 

......TLE was back from her massage by 11 am just about the time our friends (Roscoe, Geni and Dodge (Kristen) began to arrive.....by this time I had been soaking in the hot pool for about 45 minutes.......


......my massage appointment was for 12:15 pm so around noon I began my walk up the hill to the spa.....Melissa was my masseuse, and for the next 60 minutes she worked her magic.....by the end I had fallen asleep.  I rejoined my friends for the afternoon alternating between the hot pool (104º F), and the cooler pool (98º F) whilst carrying on a non-stop conversation.  

Around 4 pm we convened to our room in the 'Warren Wing', which is a newer wing with California King beds.  I took a nap, and around 5:20 pm got up to take a shower, then get dressed for our 6 pm dinner reservation....we met our friend Roscoe around 5:50 pm in the lounge just outside the dinning room, and at 6 pm we were seated......


.......here we are seated at our table for the evening.....we ordered two bottles of their Steele Vineyards Pinot Noir (we eventually ordered a 3rd), and then set about ordering our entrees.......as it turned out the owner of Steele Vineyards happened to be visiting Chico Hot Springs and he stopped by our table to introduce himself after learning we had ordered 3 bottles of his Pinot Noir......how cool is that?

This picture was taken by our server using Roscoe's Nikon camera....left to right: moi, Roscoe, Geni, Dodge, and TLE

 My 'usie' taken using my Samsung Note 5 phone camera

I, as I am want to do, ordered their Gorgonzola Filet Mignon......OMG....OMG!  One of the top 5 restaurant filet mignons I have ever had the pleasure of eating......I am so glad I am a carnivore......

 This $36 filet mignon was worth its weight in gold!
  
.......we had a lovely 2.5 hour dinner filled with interesting conversation.  We talked about how one of the most memorable things about working seasonal jobs was the people we befriend along the way, and Roscoe, Geni and Dodge perfectly illustrate that point.

After dinner we retired briefly to our rooms to change back into our bathing suits, then rejoined everyone at the hot pool for about a 30 minute soak before finishing the evening playing card games, and drinking some of Roscoe's bourbon.....he is a bourbon guy.  We played, and talked until almost 11 pm (closing time).  We were in bed by 11:30 filled with good feelings about our wonderful day spent celebrating 46 years of marriage (50 years of knowing each other)!

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Behind...

I'm a little behind today and haven't had time to write a post about Tuesday.... I'll get to it after work. Thank you for your patience@

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

46 and 11

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6:47 am - Tuesday - August 29th - 44º F, 62% humidity, wind 2 mph out of the east southeast.....partly cloudy with a forecast high for Gardiner, MT of 85º F, and 81º F for Mammoth Hot Springs.......and today is the 46th anniversary of our wedding.

Beginning Monday we still had about 21 miles to hike to reach our goal of 100 miles of hiking in Yellowstone National Park, a condition of our membership in the 100 Mile Hiking Club.  As you know we only hiked 4.2 miles the week before when we re-hiked the Bunsen Peak trail to watch the solar eclipse.  We want to finish the 100 miles by September 4th so we can hand in our mileage sheet to YCERP who is the sponsor of the club and get our commemorative patch, and free t-shirt.  TLE is the hiking planner, and after consulting our trail guide for Yellowstone she chose the Hellroaring Creek Trail.

We were on our way to the trailhead by 8:40 am....a little later than we had planned....and began hiking around 9:30 am......



.....the mileage sign does not come into view on the trail until the .1 mile mark....from there it is a 1 mile hike down to the suspension bridge which takes you across the Yellowstone River.....


.....within 5-10 minutes we come within sight of the Yellowstone.......



 

...... and about 10 minutes later we are actually crossing the bridge......



.....at the 1.5 mile mark we come to a fork in the road.....we continue to the left as our goal is the Hellroaring Bridge crossing.

.....within 10 minutes we sight an antelope running by us.....our first wildlife sighting in 84 miles of hiking (other than birds, lizards, and squirrels).......very cool.......

 

.....even though it is hazy due to the continued fires to our north the views are still magnificent......


....about 11:30 am we reach the Hellroaring foot bridge and cross over to the other side of the river to continue our hike back the same direction we just came, but on the other side of the river.....hate hiking the same ground twice!



.......around 12:30 pm it begins to get quite hot, and we find ourselves in a long stretch of trail with no tree cover, but we continue on.....our goal is to cover at least 11 miles this day.....


.....in order to get back to the Hellroaring trailhead we must find a place to cross, or ford Hellroaring Creek to get back to the Yellowstone River Trail.....this might mean we will get our feet wet......




.......and that is exactly what happens....we managed to get about 2/3's of the way across the river hopping from rock to rock, but eventually we ran out of rocks and had to take the plunge.....I went ahead of TLE and filmed her crossing the last 30 feet of the river.....



.....we found a pine tree with enough shade to sit and take off our shoes to let them dry out a tad, and also change into dry socks.  We rested for about 20 minutes before putting our shoes on once again....obviously they were not yet dry, but at least we had dry socks to begin the final 2 miles of hiking back to the trailhead.......after we crossed the Yellowstone River suspension bridge once again we still had 1.1 miles up uphill hiking to reach the trailhead and our VW, and that was a grind!  We kind of hiked from shady spot to shady spot where we would catch our breath and continue the uphill.....we reached the car about 2:35 pm (5 hours and 4 minutes of total elapsed time!).  Our actual moving time was 4 hours and 1 minute (give, or take a few seconds).....we covered EXACTLY 11 miles, burned 1,988 calories, and had elevation gain of 1,690' over the course of the 11 miles......WOW!  On top of that we average just under 3 mph for the entire hike (20 minutes per mile would be 3 mph....we averaged 21 minutes and 48 seconds per mile).



After taking off our still damp hiking shoes and stowing our hiking gear in the VW we began our drive home which took around 35 minutes....it was over 90º F at our Newell so we turned on the A/C ate a snack and then relaxed for a couple of hours.  What a great day of hiking, and I am so proud of TLE for enduring the heat and that 1.1 mile climb in the heat of the day back to the trailhead.....she never complained.....not one time, and I know she was suffering.

Tuesday we will celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary with an overnight trip to Chico Hot Springs where we will get 1 hour massages, spend a few hours soaking in their hot pools, and cap it off with an anniversary dinner in their on site restaurant.....stay tuned!

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Don't wait for the world to come to you.......

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6:50 am - Monday - August 28th - 44º F, humidity 64%, wind 4 mph out of the east.....partly cloudy and hazy (smoke from fires to the north.....still)....forecast high for Gardiner, MT is 90º F (whoa doggies!), and 84º F in Mammoth Hot Springs, WY....it's going to be a warm one!

It seems I'm getting back into a regular exercise routine....for the third successive day I managed to get on my bike (attached to the trainer) and do a 30 minute workout.

Well, the brief burst of activity at the General Store Saturday was short lived......Sunday we were back to the steady decline in foot traffic, which we had seen occurring most of the past week.  In fact several co-workers were allowed to go home early there was so little to do.  This is a two edged sword for me.....I like not being so busy, but when we are not busy time seems to run backwards.

For the past month, or so I have been working with two young men from Ghana, a young lady from Thailand, and another young lady from Texas who all work for Xanterra at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.  They are working 20 hours per week for us to earn extra money.  Anthony and Peter are from Ghana, but are attending a university in the Czech Republic near Prague......Anthony is majoring in  International Finance, and Peter is majoring in Forestry.  Pang is here from Thailand to work and explore Yellowstone, and the USA afterwards.....she sends money home to her mother in Thailand every two weeks.  Taylor calls Austin, TX her home, but she follows the seasonal work road wherever it leads her.....she loves to visit new places and meet new people, and with the money she earned this summer she is going to fly to Italy, France and England between jobs.  These kids are all younger than my oldest grand child who is 24, and yet they are out exploring the world, and not waiting at home for the world to come to them.  All four are very hard workers, punctual, and wonderful cleaners.....I'm a little OCD when it comes to cleaning, but they make me look like a piker.  I say all that to say this....here are four young kids who all come from very modest beginnings who are not letting their origins hold them back.  Anthony, Peter and Taylor, who are all black, do not think they are oppressed, or being held down by anyone, and neither does Pang who is Asian.  They are all out in the world overcoming obstacles like the rest of us, and making their way through life successfully......they think America is an amazing country with unlimited opportunities......they give me hope, and I am proud to call them friends.

Ultimately TLE and I were allowed to go home early, also....well, we left the store around 9:15 instead of 9:40.....we hadn't had a customer for almost an hour!

It's time for me to wind this up and get ready for another day of hiking in Yellowstone....we hope to put in 10-12 miles today which will leave us with about 10 miles next week to reach the century mark.....right on schedule!

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Friday on my mind......

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8:01 am - Sunday - August 27th - 43º F, humidity 74%, wind 3 mph out of the east southeast.......sunny, but hazy.

I've been a little lax lately about getting exercise via my bicycle as US-89, while scenic, is not a great road on which to ride a bicycle.......the shoulder is covered with sand, and other road debris.  When riding this highway I ride mostly in the traffic lane, but when traffic comes from behind I move to the shoulder until the car, or cars pass.  In order to move to the shoulder I must cross a 'rumble strip' going to the shoulder, and once again crossing back to the highway.  Additionally, due to the debris on the shoulder I am more likely to be the recipient of a punctured tube, which happened two rides ago.   I haven't had a flat tire for almost a year.  The mountain biking opportunities are limited here where 95% of the local trails are designated for hiking and/or horses only.......I have done a couple of rides, but the trails are mostly flat and I lose interest after a couple of rides, so I have not ridden as much as I would like.  I do have the bicycle trainer I bought whilst we were in South Lake Tahoe, so I attached my Cannodale Bad Boy to it once again the other day and have begun to do 30 minute 'rides' on that.  At any rate, I have managed to get in two 30 minutes 'rides' lately, and hope to continue that routine several days per week....need to keep the metabolism elevated to burn calories, and maintain my boyish figure......😁

We had the 'CLOSE' shift once again Saturday, and arrived at the General Store around 1:15 pm.....based on the total lack of traffic at the North Gate, and all the way up the Gardiner River Gorge, plus very little traffic in Mammoth Hot Springs we thought we might be in store for another slow day.......just when you think the season has turned the corner you get Saturday which, while not crazy, was quite a bit busier than Friday.......hmmmm.

The same goes for the weather......10 days ago the temperatures all seemed to be trending downward as we drift into Fall, but suddenly we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a minor heatwave beginning Saturday and extending into early September if the weather guessers predictions are accurate.......



......see what I mean?  For what it is worth I do seem to have finally acclimated to the warmer temps in the 80's, but I really prefer them to stay in the 70's which is much more civilized if you ask me.

Things began to slow down around 6 pm, and from then until we closed the fountain at our usual 8:30 pm it was more like Friday again.  We were home by 9:55 pm relaxing and looking forward to our 'Friday'......

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

It is a choice.......

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9:06 am - Saturday - August 26th - 51º F, humidity 83%, wind 4 mph out of the east southeast.....sunny with no clouds.  My L.A. Dodgers have reached 91 victories faster than any Dodger team in history, and are now 55 games above .500.....what an amazing season they are having!

Friday was a continuation of the rapid decline in tourist traffic since the eclipse.....we had the one big day on Wednesday, and then the number of customers just dropped off the proverbial table.  In conjunction with that we got a notice from our manager that effective 9/4/2017 when the next work schedule is published, the store hours will be shortened from the current 7:30 am to 9:30 pm to 8 am to 8 pm.  We will also be losing a number of co-workers over the next 2 weeks as their contracts expire and they head back to university, to travel, or on to other seasonal jobs.  This is the part of the nomadic experience to which I do not look forward......saying our 'until next times' especially when we know there are some we may never see again.

Also, just over the horizon of this current weekend will be the celebration by TLE and I of our 46th wedding anniversary on Tuesday..............I have to just sit here a few moments letting that amazing truth sink in to its fullest........46 years together through thick and thin.........ups and downs........through one adventure after another......and now we find ourselves in the midst of the grandest adventure of them all as 'Vagabonders Supreme' (a phrase coined by 'Tioga George' back in the year 2003).  For those who have only begun to read our blog recently we began living fulltime in our 1982 Newell February 1, 2011, and traveling fulltime February 1, 2012.  With each passing month it feels as if this is the way we have always lived.....our former 'sticks and bricks' workaday life seems almost surreal in retrospect.....almost like someone else's life....we are different people than we were then.  We had no idea, really, into what we were getting ourselves, but we went forth anyway.  Our five children, 6 grand children, and one great grand child are mute testimony of that life we once lived, and are, frankly, our greatest accomplishment.  

Liberating ourselves from most of our physical possessions back in 2011, which kept us anchored in one place for so many years, and becoming 'Vagabonders Supreme' is our second greatest accomplishment.  We attempt daily to live what remains of our lives to the fullest extent possible, and cherish every minute, every hour, every day we have left together.  The recent passing of our friend Michael has reaffirmed the importance of living every day, every moment as if it were our last.  Life is fragile enough to begin with, and now in our advanced years has become even more fragile as we see a steady stream of people we have known for decades passing one by one.  We must not allow anger and unforgiveness to steal our peace, contentment and happiness.  The easy path in life is to passively stew in these negative feelings.......it seems odd to say, but I am convinced one must actively, daily choose to be happy......fight for it, if you will.  As Abraham Lincoln famously said...."Folks are usually as happy as they make up their minds to be.....".

Periodically our Mammoth Hot Springs General Store friends Geni and Roscoe have the 'CLOSE' shift with us on Friday nights.....on those occasions we choose to stop off at the 'Rusty Rail' for an after work drink, or two with them.....it makes us happy.  On this particular Friday we were once again paired on the 'CLOSE' shift, and once again we stopped off for a drink.......makes me happy just thinking about it.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

'Christmas in August' Yellowstone Style

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7:07 am - Friday - August 25th - 45º F, humidity 84%, wind 4 mph out of the east.....partly cloudy....forecast high for Gardiner, MT is 79º F, and 73º F for Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.

I only became aware of the annual 'Christmas in August' tradition a few days ago (you can read about its history here).  Apparently each August 24th the staff of all concessionaires in Yellowstone National Park renew this annual tradition.  If you work for Delaware North you were given a t-shirt like the ones my 'Fountain' co-workers (Adelaide and Roscoe) are wearing in the picture below.....for those of us who work in the 'Fountain'  who must wear hats to prevent hair follicles from contaminating any food we serve Santa Claus hats were provided......



 Adelaide donned a Santa costume for about two hours as she walked about the store singing Christmas carols.

......TLE and I worked our 'MID1' shift (11 am to 7 pm)......the General Store was closed early (7:30 pm) so we could set up tables to feed our 38 employees a catered Prime Rib dinner provided by the chefs at the Xanterra restaurant located next to the General Store......

My 'usie' contribution

Our store manager, Kristal Leonard, contributed this 'usie' to the many pictures which were taken on the front steps of the General Store.

 My buddy Peter from Ghana  and I waiting for the gift exchange to commence.....yes, I am wearing Mardi Gras beads.

.....our customers got a kick out of the 'Christmas in August' theme, and really got into the spirit wishing us all a Merry Christmas......our European visitors especially enjoyed our antics.....those crazy Americans, right?

We got hit with a few bus loads during our shift, but they came one at a time instead of the three we got hit with all at once this past Saturday.  There would be a waive of people for about 30 minutes, and then it would get quiet once again.

Around 5 pm one of the floor supervisors ('Dodge') came by to show me a picture (below) of a small SUV which was driven off a large curb just outside the General Store by its inattentive driver.......


.....it wasn't until close to 7 pm that a tow truck arrived to rescue the poor motorist......



......it took about 1/2 an hour for the tow truck operator to winch the SUV off the curb without causing more damage.


August 25th is the 101st anniversary of the creation of our National Park Service which I am sure will be a focal point of our work day on Friday.

We had a lovely dinner and gift exchange and were home before 10 pm with smiles on our faces.  As is oft the case here in Montana/Wyoming it rained once again Thursday for about 20 minutes.  The almost daily rain is helping clear the air of the ever present smoke from fires to our north.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Yesterday's gone.....


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6:45 am - Thursday - August 24th - 52º F, humidity 69%, wind 6 mph out of the east.....cloudy....forecast today high for Gardiner, MT is 77º F, and 72º F in Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.

I just got news of the passing of another good man, and friend before his time, and I am sitting here at my laptop stunned.  He and his wife were on vacation, not that far from we were are right now, when he succumbed to a massive heart attack.  He and his wife had just retired within the past couple of years, and had moved to Arizona to their dream home near Prescott, AZ.  It just brings home, once again, what I tell people everyday......don't wait too long to live your dreams.  No one knows when their number will be drawn.....live like there is no tomorrow.....please, please, please!  RIP Michael!

It is so easy to become complacent.....yes, even in this amazing nomadic lifestyle we embrace on a daily basis......too focused on the past disappointments, or future hopes.  News like this tends to help one refocus on the here and now......to focus on the friends and family I love so much.  If you are thinking about someone, give them a call.....it's so easy to think "I'll see them soon, or I'll send them a text, or I'll call them tomorrow"......maybe they won't be there tomorrow......maybe they'll never see your text, or receive your call.

In spite of the reality being that the older I get the more likely it is that I will awake on any given day to the news of someone I know having passed.  It doesn't mean I have to accept it, or like it.  I don't know how many days, months, or years I have remaining......at 68 years of age I have already outlived my father by 14 years.  I think I'm in good health, and past physicals seem to indicate that I am, but I'm sure Michael thought he was in good health, also.  I'm sure he was making plans for his, and his wife's future, but that was yesterday, and yesterday is gone.....

Chad and Jeremy - Yesterday's Gone

.....it almost seems trivial to me at this moment to recount our Wednesday working in the Mammoth Hot Springs General Store, but let me give it a shot.  We had the 'CLOSE' shift Wednesday (1:30 pm to 9:30 pm), and we were there a little before that time.  I worked as a cashier at the retail desk for my entire shift, and that is the first time I have ever done that.  It happened to be a pretty busy day as we did just over $29,000 in sales.....just a couple thousand shy of the store record achieved just this past Saturday.  Our store also won the blanket selling contest, so each employee was given one free.......very cool.  We were home just before 10 pm, and in bed by 11 pm.  Yes, it does seem trivial now, but life does go on, and I am sure I'll feel more effusive tomorrow.....

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Extras

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8:35 am - Wednesday - August 23rd - 52º F, humidity 62%, wind 3 mph out of the east.....partly cloudy, but very little haze from the fires to the north!  Forecast high for Gardiner, MT is 81º F, and 79º F for Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.

So, Tuesday was to be our added work day this week giving us 6 straight days of work through this coming Sunday.  Our shift was the 'MID2' (9:30 am to 5:30 pm) for which we arrived around 1:15 pm.  TLE had been complaining of a sinus headache before work, but thought she would be okay.  We both clocked 'IN' at 9:30 am....it was very quiet in the store, and according to our co-workers Monday had been even quieter than 'Bizzaro Sunday' had been.  

Nonetheless, around 12 pm business began to pick up and by 12:30 pm (our scheduled lunch break) a large tour bus had unloaded in front of the store.....the queue for the 'Fountain' was overflowing.....lucky me, because we had plenty of extra workers, enabling me to take my 30 minute lunch break on time.

When I joined TLE back in the lunch room she said her headache was getting progressively worse in spite of taking a few Ibuprofens earlier.  While I ate she went to lie down on the sofa in the other room.  Within 20 minutes she decided she needed to go home to 'sleep' off the headache.  At 1 pm I decided to drive her home, and our floor supervisor said she would check with the store manager to see if I needed to come back.  About half way down the Gardiner River Gorge TLE got a text from the floor supervisor advising I need not return.....YAY for our team!  When we clocked out for lunch we had both worked just 3 hours of our 8 hour shift.  A number of employees had volunteered an extra day of work this week just in case the post SE crowds were too overwhelming.....as it turned out Tuesday was just a normal day, so the extra manpower (or should I say 'person' power?) was not needed after all.

I was still tired from not enough sleep Sunday night, or the previous couple of nights, so after TLE  was settled I sat down in my recliner to take a nap.....boy did I need that!  I slept for about 90 minutes and felt quite refreshed.  TLE and I both think the smoke from the fires to our north have begun to affect us, and I agree.....I did not feel 100% Tuesday either, and am glad I was able to return home.  We turned on the A/C as soon as we got home, and did not turn it off until almost 9 pm.  I think having the A/C scrub the air of the smoke we have been breathing for a week, or more helped tremendously!

We spent the evening watching 5 more episodes of 'Mad Men', and we are really getting into it.....the term 'Mad Men' was an abbreviation referring to the Madison Avenue Advertising agencies back at the beginning of the 60's when print, radio and TV advertising was really taking hold in American culture.  We both highly recommend this series which ran from 2007 to 2015 (7 seasons)....IMDB gives this series 8.5 of 10 stars.

We hit the sack just before 11 pm knowing we have the 'CLOSE' shift (1:30 pm to 9:30 pm) on Wednesday......will be nice to sleep in!  Thanks for stopping by!


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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Great American Solar Eclipse!

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(CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE)

7:02 am - Tuesday - August 22nd - 41º F, humidity 69%, wind  2 mph out of the east southeast.....no clouds....forecast high in Gardiner, MT is 83º F and 81º F in Mammoth Hot Springs, WY.

We were in bed Sunday night a little after 11 pm and up Monday morning a little after 6 am......TOO EARLY!  We had plans to depart YRVP* by 8 am in order to be at the Bunsen Peak trailhead no later than 8:30 am.  There were to be three vehicles in all.....our VW, Roscoe and Geni's Chevrolet PU, and 'Dodge's (Kristen) Dodge PU.....we planned to continue hiking after the eclipse.....Roscoe and Geni did not.....'Dodge' had to be at work by 1:30 pm.  At 8 am Dodge was no where to be seen, so we began the 20 minute drive up to the trailhead by ourselves hoping Dodge had gone on ahead......the drive up the Gardiner River Gorge and through Mammoth Hot Springs saw very little traffic......even less than we would normally expect that time of day.

We arrived at the trailhead parking lot at precisely 8:20 am to find 'Dodge' there in her Dodge PU saving parking spaces for us......if she had not gone on ahead we would have been parking on the highway, or down the road a ways.....thank you Dodge!

We were on the trail by 8:30 am hiking the 2.1 miles to Bunsen Peak......you never know what to expect in Yellowstone crowd wise, but my intuition told me most people had headed south towards Jackson, WY where there would be 100% totality for the solar eclipse.  Nonetheless, as we began our hike, we did not know what to expect at the top.  TLE and I made it to the top in one hour and ten minutes (9:40 am) to find we were the first ones there.....so my intuition was correct! Within 20 minutes another 25 or so people arrived and gradually spread out along the ridgeline to await the beginning of the solar eclipse.....it was not crowded at all.....


On our way up to Bunsen Peak at 8:30 am

.....the rest of our gang arrived by 9:50 am, and we settled in to wait for the start of the solar eclipse at 10:15 am.......

The girls playing cards while we wait for the big show to begin

We had great cell service atop Bunsen Peak.....😏

.....the eclipse began just a tad after 10:15 am.....the solar eclipse viewing glasses our employer, Delaware North provided free of charge, worked quit well.....


.....from the beginning of the solar eclipse until we achieved 98.5% totality would take around one hour and ten minutes so we occupied ourselves with card games, and a little vino with cheese.....

Of course....wine and cheese, right?

This little chipmunk seemed oblivious to all the hoopla

Geni held up a cracker and we got a dozen eclipses at one time

It's getting close!

Left to right:  Roscoe, Geni, Dodge (Kristen), TLE and moi....all wearing our Yellowstone General Stores eclipse t-shirts

.....I wasn't able to get very good eclipse pictures with my phone camera, but a fellow Yellowstone worker (Chris Winchester) got these, which is exactly what we saw through our solar eclipse glasses....

As it looked at 98.5% totality

The temperature also dipped down to 55º F....had to put our jackets back on for a few minutes.....seriously

Past totality 

.......as we reached 98.5% totality it began to look like dusk, and then we all noticed it was getting quite chilly.....when we arrived at the top the temp was in the 60's, but by the time the eclipse hit 98.5% totality the temp had dropped to a chilly 55º F.  Once the eclipse had begun to recede around 11:30 pm we began our 2.1 mile trek back to the trailhead parking lot.

I have to say, in retrospect, that the solar eclipse experience exceeded my expectations by a 1000%......of course, enjoying it with good friends, and throwing in some wine and cheese didn't hurt, but seriously, we had a blast.

On the way down the hill TLE stumbled over a rock stubbing her big toe, and by the time we reached the VW it was hurting, plus she needed to get it cleaned and bandaged, so we cut short our hiking plans and began the drive back to YRVP*.

As we passed by the USPS building in Mammoth Hot Springs I decided to stop and check our mail....we were delighted to find the wedding invitation from Tim and Laila in the P.O. Box......can't believe it is only 6 weeks until the magical day!




We spent the rest of the relaxing....since we only have one day off this week it seems wise that we chose not to add on another 10 miles of hiking, and take care of TLE's injured toe instead. By the way, she reports it is not hurting that much, and is well on the way to recovery for hiking next week.

Thanks for stopping by!

* YRVP = Yellowstone RV Park


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