Monday, July 7, 2014

Peak Season and Slow Internet

July 4th typically begins "peak" season in Yellowstone.  For the next several weeks, all lodging in Yellowstone will be full.  Every pullout along the roads will be full.  Every restaurant will be full.  At least Bill and I have a nice big site to retreat to after working long hours at the campground.

With all the masses visiting the park, slow internet is almost guaranteed.  Because of this, posting blog entries can be a challenge.  Bear with me as we get through this crazy time of the season.

Here are a few random pictures from the past couple of weeks:


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Working and Playing

Canyon Campground has been open almost a month.  The crew has gotten settled in nicely, but it hasn't been without challenges.  I had one staff member take a job in another department; I've had another staff member out sick and actually in the hospital.  I've had a couple fly home due to family emergency.  However, we're hanging in there, and things are working out.  On Thursday, we replaced the employee who jumped ship; today, the employee who was sick is back at work; and the couple who left due to the family emergency will be back in a few days.

I'm so thankful I have a crew who bellies up to the bar and is willing to put in extra hours when needed.

OK - enough about work.  Let's talk about playing.  Bill and I met friends, Gene, Joyce & Jan, just north of Yellowstone for a cross-country hike up to Dog Tooth Rock.

The five of us met at a log cabin located a few miles up a 4x4 road.  To be more precise, Gene met Bill, Jan, and me at a parking area just off Hwy 89 where we left our dually and rode up with him, since this road isn't all that dually friendly.  After about 30 minutes or so, we arrived at the cabin.

 After visiting for a few minutes, we all loaded back in Gene's truck, and we drove to the "trail head."  Once we parked, we headed across the sage covered meadow.  Thank goodness Gene knew where we were heading since there wasn't much of a trail.

The wildflowers were amazing!  Here are Shooting Stars, one of my favorites.  I didn't see any last year but sure made up for it on this hike.  They were all over the place.

 And the meadows of Balsam Root were just beautiful.
After a while, our destination came into view.  We had already been climbing up pretty steadily, and it looks like we have a little more climbing to do.

After a real climb, we came to a level area before the final push up to Dog Tooth Rock.  I was the first one to reach the level area, and I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I saw a picnic table.  Apparently it had been there a while, as it was barely holding together.

After catching our breath, we pushed onward and upward.  Here's the view from the top.
 And here's the picture of four of us.  Jan was playing photographer.

And what goes up must come down.  And down we went.....

 After getting back to the cabin, we grilled burgers and enjoyed the company of good friends.  We were happy that the afternoon thunderstorms held off until we were back at the cabin.

Today's hike took us through prime grizzly bear habitat, but the only wildlife we saw was one deer.  However, the drive home was a different story.  While we didn't see a grizzly, we did see the black bear with three cubs.  Here's mom with two of her cubs....

...and here's the third cub, looking for mom.

After getting through that bear jam, we saw this fawn with mom leading the way away from the crowd of people.

 But our wildlife viewing was not done.  How about ending the day with a cinnamon colored black bear?
 Today was one of those "perfect" kind of days off...a good hike, good food, good wildlife, and most importantly, good friends.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Slough Creek Trail

The best thing about weekends is that we get one every week.  On Friday, Bill and I headed out to hike Slough Creek.  Jan, a fellow campground manager, joined us.  Bill and I hiked this trail back in 2007, and it was even more beautiful than I remembered.  Jan seemed to really enjoy it as well.  She kept saying, "No matter which direction you look, it's simply beautiful."

The wildflowers are starting to bloom.

This pronghorn posed perfectly while we all got pictures.

The trail is actually a wagon road that is still in use.  There is a guest ranch just beyond Yellowstone's border, and this wagon road is used for access and to deliver supplies to the ranch.

 We hiked in almost 5 miles before we stopped for a snack.
Hiking out was just as beautiful.

 Yes, this is definitely what weekends are for.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Weekend...Well, Sort Of

The snow continues to melt in Canyon Campground.  In fact, we are in pretty good shape right now.  We have just 3 sites off the market due to snow, and these we can still sell on a case by case basis.  Folks just have to realize most of the picnic table is still under snow, and the area for a tent probably will not be ideal.

Bill and I were off this past Friday and Saturday.  But, as a Campground Manager, it is hard to take the entire two days off, and since Bill is such a good sport (and a good supporter), we went in on Friday morning and shoveled snow until lunch time.  We cleared tent pads and dug out fire rings.  That is one of the reasons we have just 3 sites off the market now.  Well, that, and the great group of Campground Attendants who have been shoveling for the past two weeks.

Bill and I had talked about taking a hike after we finished our shoveling responsibilities.  Well, after shoveling for three hours (and I had shoveled many hours in the days prior), we decided to go to the house and relax.  I must admit, I was worn out...physically and mentally.  Opening a campground is pretty stressful to me, so we took it easy and hung around the house all afternoon.

After a nice relaxing afternoon on Friday, on Saturday we hiked our first hike...finally!  We drove down to the Lake area and hiked Storm Point, one of our favorites.

 Wildlife sightings are almost always guaranteed...provided you want to see Marmots.

 This easy hike has lots to offer.

 And, yes, wildflowers are starting to bloom!
After a nice hike, Bill grilled delicious salmon and Brussels sprouts for dinner (yes, Brussels sprouts are delicious on the grill!)  And to complete the evening, we had our first campfire.  

Not a bad weekend at all, even if it was just 1 1/2 days.  The best part is knowing another weekend is right around the corner!

BTW, Canyon Campground filled for the first time on Saturday, and we've already had bears in the campground.  Today, all lodging in Yellowstone is full, including the campgrounds.  Yes, it's going to be a busy summer!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Open for Business!

This morning at 7:00, Canyon Campground opened for the 2014 summer season!  We checked in our first guest at 7:15 and sold our first shower before 8:00.

Although we couldn't have asked for better over the past couple of weeks, we still have quite a bit of snow in the campground.  I'm glad the guests have been understanding, as we work with them to find a campsite to suit them.

I am home now for a few hours and will head back around 5:00 and stay until closing at 10:00.  Yes, it's a long day, but time invested now means I will be getting my days off sooner rather than later.

I'm excited about the crew we have this year...a good mix of returners and new folks.

I just found out that one of our NPS campground host couples had to cancel due to health reasons.  If anyone is interested in living in Canyon Campground and volunteering for the National Park Service, please email your contact info to me, and I will forward to the Park Ranger.  Yellowstone is a wonderful place to spend the summer!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our Summer Home

Yesterday, Bill and I moved from the Lake area of Yellowstone National Park to Canyon Village, where we will be until mid-September.  It was a beautiful sunny day to drive the 16 miles north to Canyon.  

We knew there was more snow at Canyon than Lake, and boy is there!  Normally, Bill can back the rig into a site on just one try.  Yesterday, however, it took about 4 or 5 tries, and in between each try, we were shoveling snow.  The site itself was fine, but we had to clear snow from the sides of the road so there was room for the truck to maneuver.  It wasn't pretty, but we're here!
People often ask if they should buy a 4x4 truck.  My answer is always, "you never need 4x4, until you do."  Yesterday, Bill had to put the truck in low range 4x4 to get the rig into the site, as he had to back the rig up a slight hill covered in snow and mud.  We will always have a 4x4.

Before we left Lake, we had a little excitement in the neighborhood.  Bill noticed this Park Ranger pull up in front of our next door neighbor.  The Ranger got out and approached another neighbor who was outside.
See the neighbor...she's standing and pointing towards the forest behind our rigs.  Yes, you guessed it...a big grizzly bear.  I grabbed my camera but was too late.  We watched it run (quickly, I might add) through the trees.
Here's the Park Ranger keeping watch through the neighborhood.  If you look closely, you can see the shotgun in his right hand.  They shoot the bears with rubber bullets, encouraging the bears to leave the area.
 This time of year, there are always lots of bears around.  We have learned to look both ways before stepping out of the rig.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Day Off Together...Finally!

With my training schedule, days off vary from week to week.  Bill, however, is off on Saturdays and Sundays.  Well, this past Sunday we both had the day off.  I would love to say we spent a day playing in the park, but that wasn't to be.  With things starting to get really busy, we knew we had to drive to Bozeman and stock up on supplies.  Who knows when we will get the opportunity again?

We met our friends, Gene and Joyce, for lunch at Burger Bob's, a great place if you're in the mood for a good burger.  After that it was Costco, Walmart, Smith's Grocery Store, and a haircut for me.  Getting a haircut can be very interesting.  Fortunately, I got lucky this time, and actually received a cut I really like.

On Monday, Bill was working Mammoth, and I had to drive up in the afternoon to be here for training that starts on Tuesday morning.  I was given a room in the Mammoth Hotel for a couple of nights, so it's almost like a working vacation.  Last night, after enjoying the dinner fare in the employee dining room, we took a walk around "officer's row," which are former houses for the Officers in the U.S. Army, when they were in charge of Yellowstone, before the National Park Service was established in 1916.  (Speaking of Officers...Ryan, my West Point graduate nephew, was recently promoted to Captain.  We are so proud!)

Following our walk, we attended a talk in the "Map Room" of the Mammoth Hotel.  The talk was a slide show based on a 1902 scrapbook of a New York's couple visit to Yellowstone.  It was amazing to see how some things have changed so much in the park, while others remain the same.

So, while Bill and I are both working, it is nice to play tourist just a bit.  I'm hoping there will be another talk tonight.