Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Best of Greentangle 2010

Time once again for the annual list of my favorite posts. OK, so the previous three annual lists were all done in April of this year, but now it's an annual event. This was a year of big changes: I lived in five states and spent way too much time on buses and packing and unpacking, started the year in hell, spent the middle in paradise, and the end in a lovely waiting room of sorts. For the blog the big change was the addition of photos, and many of the posts on the following list are little more than photos of favorite places. A sense of place was perhaps the theme of the year--revisiting and leaving important old ones and finding an important new one. More changes will be coming to my corner of the blogosphere next week. Have a happy beginning to the new year, and thanks for reading.

Out of Place

Watching my grandfather die, and several of those places in one post.
Burn, Baby, Burn!

The green fire, that is. Here's a new link for info about the movie.
Monastery Life

A place of refuge and retreat.
12 X 12 > 350
The meeting of two books.
Monastery Photos

Scenes from a place of refuge and retreat.
I'm a Whale Watcher, Watching Whales Go By
One of my favorite Boston activities, repeated many times.
It's a Doover. I Mean, Do-Over.
The past becomes the future.
Photos from Minnesota/Park Point, my favorite Duluth hike.
Lovely Day
Photos from Jay Cooke State Park.
Searching for Hope
A black bear goes missing, a columnist is lost.
Scenes from the Terraces
Mammoth Hot Springs, constantly changing, and a place where I'll be spending a lot more time.
Your Mission: Find a Face or Name a Flower

Great Horned Owlets.
What's the difference between a magpie and a wolf?
Dining out in the wild.
Quoth the Ravens
Keeping track of deaths at a breakfast meeting.
Beaver Ponds Trail
Not really any great photos, but it's my closest new home hike, done with a new friend.
Road Trip!
To the Grand Tetons!
Norris Geyser Basin
Photos from one of my favorite Yellowstone places.
Shoshone Lake
Photos of the first waves I'd seen in months.
Old Faithful: The Two Hour Hike
And not a photo of Old Faithful to be found.
Elk, Wolf, Bison, Bear
One post, four species.
Seeing Eye to Eye

Clashing elk and other photos.
The Hounds of Hell
One of those bus trips I mentioned.
Lake with Ice
Superior Lake.
Harbor with Ice

Duluth Harbor.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Harbor with Ice

I've never had a more difficult time deciding which photos to post here. From variations on the same scenes to abstract moments to oddness I found oddly appealing, there were a lot of tough choices. It's hard to go wrong with such beautiful scenery.

I've finally started playing around a bit with what the camera will let me do as far as changing aperture and shutter speed. I'm still confused about the whole aperture/digital/zoom relationship, but I know switching to a very fast shutter speed for the next batch of shots would have been a good idea because this bird was moving. Maybe the water was cold. Actually, moving so fast that I couldn't even focus--I just pointed ahead and hoped for a swimming appearance--so maybe the shutter speed wouldn't have mattered. Anyway, my fingers were so cold that I didn't even think of it at the time.

Taking flight on this next one, which I don't think you'd figure out if I didn't tell you. Somehow the complete lack of focus makes it seem sort of painterly to me.

I've been having a lot of fun this week hanging out by the water, in the cold, taking these shots and reminding myself why I loved living here. Arrows are still flying in Duluth's woods until the end of the month, but I'll try to do some winter hiking next month. It's been good for my mind and spirit if not my feet which I'm thinking of calling a doctor about before I leave civilization again. Good rumors of how long that next sojourn is going to last but I haven't seen a contract yet--I'll let you know when I do.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lake with Ice

One of the many things I love about the Lake is how changeable it is. I took these photos on Wednesday--most of the ice covering the water in them was not there Tuesday or Thursday. The last salt water ship came in yesterday--still a month to go of the lakers.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lake at Dawn

I got down to the Lake a little after seven this morning, just as it was getting light enough for a little color and steam to show up. I'll try to make it a little later tomorrow.

Later in the morning, there was a great looking ghost ship coming into port through the steam but I didn't have my camera with me.

My employment dates are being talked about at Yellowstone. And I had an idea for an April post after my return there assuming Nature cooperates. Ha! You're gonna laugh!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Timing's Off

A bit of last night's sunset through a window. Of course, five minutes earlier as I'd been walking home from the bus the entire sky was a mix of pink and orange and blue.

Still not doing much walking since everything is covered with snow turned into ice, and my current gait is left heel, ow, right knee, grumble. Living on the third floor of a building with no elevator isn't helping the knee at all. I'll try to save what's left of me for hiking in Yellowstone. After a month sleeping on the floor (more accurately, the floor covered by thick carpet, a foam sleeping pad, a folded blanket, and my sleeping bag), my back finally convinced me to buy an air mattress which got its first use last night. When inflating it, I was really tempted to explode it, but I resisted the urge.

I heard from Yellowstone last week, wondering if I'd be interested in coming back to work now because some people hadn't shown up. I'd be incredibly damned interested, but it's not possible because I prepaid a four month lease here and am working on resolving a number of issues. But I still said, damn, damn, damn. Yellowstone in Winter. Why didn't you just hire me in the first place when I filled out the winter application? Damn, damn, damn. Hopefully next year.

I spotted a full time accounting assistant job with the Yellowstone Association just outside the park in Gardiner (Which incidentally is the only town I know which misspells its own name--it's named after Johnson Gardner, but there was an error by an early expedition which the town never changed. So we have the town of Gardiner on the Gardner River.) which I considered applying for--much better pay, health insurance, security, a place of my own, etc.--but decided that in my circumstances, I'd rather live in the park and have access to the many group hikes and events. Also, difficult as it is for me to believe, I actually started liking some of the people I met this summer. It's not your average American who decides to work in Yellowstone, and non-average people are the kind I need around me. Back to the Association, there are however interesting volunteer positions with a minimal stipend in and out of the park which I might apply for as a way of getting between work seasons in the future depending on how things work out.

I also noticed the Unabomber's land is for sale. Hmmm.

I was planning to be out early this morning because the sun was going to visibly rise, but didn't make it because I was awake for a few hours in the middle of the night. But if you enlarge this photo from when I finally got there, you can see the Lake still steaming a bit, and ice on the rocks.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Greyer Shade of Pale

Since I’ve been here, the weather has usually looked like this:

Here’s Yellowstone Corner in my apartment:

I need a name for my new pet if you have any suggestions.

I may be 1000 miles away but I don’t think a day has gone by without some sort of Yellowstone related activity, from email and checking weather (three feet of snow in Mammoth where people told me they don’t get much snow) to news and forums to reading about or planning hikes. I have a nice 12 mile loop planned from the dorm, evenly split between trails I’ve done before and trails new to me. I also read a mystery set in the park, looked at lots of photos, and requested the two related dvds the library has.

A couple I knew in the park is now teaching in Honduras. In Yellowstone, they complained they’d brought too much stuff with them; now they’ve reduced their possessions to two suitcases and two carry-ons. I think there’s going to be a lot more of this going on in the near future; at least we’re doing it voluntarily. Although in my case, that’s voluntarily due to circumstances—despite the fact that I’ve always been drawn to a life of extreme simplicity, I would have lazily gone on as usual if it had been possible. But now that I’ve been forced into the situation, I find it more of a relief than a hardship. I finally get to start being who I wanted to be anyway. I’m not quite ready to give up everything I can’t carry at once, but maybe I will be by the time that day gets here.

There have been a few times I’ve planned to go out hiking in the morning despite my aching feet (bad shoes and I suspect also walking on all this cement after five months away from it) but when I wake up and see the latest grey day, it seems unappealing. I was going to photograph a series of Lake sunrises, but there haven’t been any. So other than using the library’s wifi, I spend most of my time in or on my sleeping bag, reading or listening, getting rid of more stuff. Time has become largely irrelevant to me except for library hours. I’m often up in the middle of the night, or asleep in the middle of the day. Because the apartment never really gets dark due to outside lighting and often not very bright because of the weather, I sometimes wake up unsure of what time it is. Groggily reaching my watch, I see it’s 5:00. Now, is that AM or PM?


Monday, November 15, 2010

Job Opening

In case anyone would like to come live by Yellowstone: Wyoming Director

I'm in Duluth, slowly getting settled in, already working on reducing my possessions inventory (although I had to buy some new temporary ones so I can cook), had some weekend snow, there are ships on the Lake, nice brief views of sunset upper skies from my third floor apartment.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Here I Come, Lake!

Tomorrow morning I'll be turning my seven boxes over to UPS. That's down from the ten I had in storage--threw out my concert cdrs, sold 75% of my remaining cds for $96.25 (I still have all the music on the computer), unsuccessfully tried to sell four Eastern field guides (I'll miss the species, but not the books), crammed more clothes into my duffel bag. Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be heading for Duluth so I can get there before the boxes. I'm about 1/5 through The Fool's Progress and this is probably the perfect book to read for this trip and this point in my life. That's not necessarily a good thing, but it's quite a parallel mix of laughter, disgust, rage, and melancholia.

I need to go on a shopping spree when I get to Duluth--a phone (because that's the only way I'll know when UPS comes), and restocking a kitchen from scratch. I'm really looking forward to being able to cook again for the first time in over a year, even though I'm hoping to lose up to thirty pounds by spring. There won't be any furniture; I'm basically just setting up camp for a few months in an apartment--maybe I'll even set up the tent!

I don't expect to post very often from Duluth because I'm not planning on having internet access in the apartment. I'll be spending a lot of time on the computer though--one of those seven boxes is filled mostly with my journals and I plan to copy what I want to keep onto the computer so I can eliminate another box. I'll also be rereading the books in other boxes and getting rid of most of them along with reading a couple dozen new books from the library--I've already gotten in the request line for the most popular. (Maybe I'll also rejoin Netflix for a few months also to see what movies I've missed over the past year.) And I expect I'll be selling the few remaining cds and dvds before leaving Duluth--no market for them in Yellowstone. In December, I'll probably find out the date for returning to Yellowstone--I'm hoping for early March. I might be down to three or four boxes by then.

Unfortunately, the angry whitenecks have largely taken over the upper midwest in the recent election but I'll just be passing through for a few months, and it's probably unlikely I'll ever live there again either. I try not to think about the fact that I'll now live mostly in Wyoming. I just live in a big open space with lots of critters. Better to live in a state of mind than a state anyway.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Hounds of Hell

Chicago is hell. An example is the undersized overcrowded bus station, but we'll get back to that. Let's start with the traffic jams. Probably just elk, I figured. But damn, I didn't even see any elk--just a whole bunch of cars stopped for no reason--not even pulled over to the side, and no one even taking photographs. Weird.

I was almost part of all that once, engaged to a Chicago suburb college girl. We didn't know what the hell we were doing--it just seemed like the next required step on the way to living like everyone else. We finally came to our senses, she realizing I was too much like her father who spent his life careerless, working jobs as available and needed; me realizing the life of commuter trains, suburban houses, and city jobs was no life for me. So she traded me in for one of our best friends from college and they had the life I wanted to avoid. So I recalled as the trains passed the bearless jams.

On the way to hell, I had seen some wildlife but almost all of it was dead. And yet there seemed to be plenty of potential bison, grizzly, wolf habitat all going to waste. What an odd country.

I saw the towers in the sky, filled with rectangles of light, all the self-imprisoned. I used to live that way in another circle of hell, until I found I'd had the key all along.

Lines of luggage at the doors staked out our places in our various migration routes, all hellish, all the wrong way. A local demon with a sense of humor called me Jerry Garcia. When I was younger, it was Harrison or Lennon. I guess it doesn't matter when they're all equally dead.

I was scheduled to suffer 3 1/2 hours in this circle but it turned into five with no explanation. Which then led to spending six hours sitting in the Cleveland circle with no locker large enough for my duffel bag and thus no visit to an internet spot. Oddly, in this circle of hell, I seemed to be surrounded by God freaks chanting gospel songs.

And then heading for the New York City circle where I'd spend three hours in the middle of the night surrounded by people sitting with their coats stretched over their heads, others having conversations with vending machines, and someone who gave an angry speech from a movie but then reassured those staring at him that he was just giving an angry speech from a movie, not trying to be a tough guy.

But before all that, riding the hound, came the cell phone circle of hell, heavily populated by those loudly not speaking English, probably for one reason or the other not comprehending the driver's instructions about cell phones. I had my usual fantasy of ripping the thing from a hand and stomping on it, and thought about how nice it had been to live in a place where, although it's unfortunately changing, the damn things didn't even work.

Somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania, I woke up with the bus stopped on the side of the highway, with the driver standing in the aisle yelling about cell phones. He looked at one guy wearing headphones and holding a little black rectangle, who then said, "Why are you looking at me?" which turned into the two of them standing in the aisle with thrust out chests yelling at each other. What stupid apes humans are! The driver said if people kept talking on their cell phones and distracting him, he'd stop driving and we'd be sitting there a long time until a new driver got there (apparently the one sitting in the front seat who'd driven the previous four hour leg didn't count--one woman suggested that if he was so distracted, he should let the other guy drive). I laughed at the notion that a bus full of people going to New York City in the middle of the night would sit there waiting for a new driver; more likely they'd throw him off the bus and drive themselves to New York. When we finally did get to New York, the two apes started in on each other again beside the bus.

One week from now, I'll be living Part 2, and I doubt I'll ever return to this area. I no longer care about visiting my old neighborhoods, I have no possessions or important relationships left here, and it's too far from where I'll be living and too populated. I'll have to learn to love the Pacific and its whales instead. I did enjoy the Boston Veggie Fest yesterday. Know how much actual meat is in a fast food burger? 2-14% according to analysis.

A Yellowstone coworker is visiting national parks on his roundabout way home and has sent links to his photos from Glacier, Banff, and Jasper which was especially stunning in its snow-covered beauty. I want to visit them all, and expect to see photos from parks in the Northwest I'll also want to visit. Banff would take a little effort, but Glacier and Jasper are easily accessible by train.

I've started researching my list of parks other than Yellowstone as potential workplaces, but haven't found any strong contenders yet. Different companies operate in different parks with different rules--no beards in one, no transportation to another, no meals in a third, office jobs not in the park at another. At Yosemite, new employees live in tents--warm sleeping bags advised. Even though it's the North I love, what I probably really need to find is a southern park for the late fall/winter season when Yellowstone and the other snowy parks have the fewest jobs.

For the first time since starting this blog, I've changed the quote up top. I found that Abbey sentence early in The Fool's Progress which I pulled to reread during Hell Part 2. It seems very appropriate both to how I'm living these days and to how the blog has changed from an emphasis on the opinions mentioned in the Turner quote to more of a personal lifestyle journal.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Back in the good old days at Yellowstone, I provided a link to the employee photo contest winners which included the winner in the wildlife category: an injured bison being chased down a snowy road by a grizzly.

That photo and the story behind it is now getting more publicity, including a sequence of 14 photos of the chase. The accompanying story says the bison had been burned in one of the geothermal areas, escaped the grizzly, only to be killed by rangers the next day.


Monday, October 18, 2010

"Sure Is Flat Here."

So I said to myself when I woke up somewhere in Minnesota Saturday morning. On the positive side, after five months in Yellowstone, climbing the hills of Duluth seems much easier than it used to. And it was nice to see some hardwood forests along the way, even with most of the limbs bare. But the couple who'd just met performing a variety of sex acts under the blanket across the bus aisle was a little odd. I think I'd probably have had a more satisfying relationship back in Yellowstone if I'd been that casual, but too late now.

Back in time in Bozeman, the lecture/slides evening about wolves in Yellowstone was very interesting. Wolves are a huge issue out there now--on the list, off the list, planned hunt, hunt stopped, mix and repeat. The evening was a reminder that as cool as Yellowstone is as a place to live, it's not complete freedom for the animals but only for as long as they don't interfere with human interests. Along with the elk and bears which were harassed by rangers while I was in Mammoth, I learned in Bozeman that a wolf had been killed near Old Faithful in 2009 (?) (out of sight of tourists) because s/he had followed people. And a pack who moved in and were killing elk right in Mammoth (also in 2009 if I remember correctly--the info is packed) were hazed out of the area. The folks who reintroduced wolves to Yellowstone are in favor of hunting them in the surrounding states as the only way to placate those (ranchers, hunters, etc.) who don't want them there at all. It may all be very practical, but just as Yellowstone isn't legally wilderness, it shouldn't be thought of as a complete sanctuary for animals either, just a relative one.

That final morning I'd stopped by the office and said my goodbyes, in some cases the last time I'll see those people. I left a box of my stuff tucked away by my desk. A coworker gave me a ride to Bozeman and we had a good talk all the way about the place and people--it was a good way to end it for now.

So here I am in Duluth. The Lake is still pretty; it's a great Lake, superior to any Yellowstone lake. But all the cars and houses and people (and not people I recognize from my little Mammoth community)--it feels like such a strange way to live now. But I've seen a couple friends, and had some good food (my old favorite "mock duck" in garlic sauce twice already), and oh yeah, I'm a Duluthian again. I signed a four month lease to live in the building next to the one I lived in for eight years.

I'll be back riding the buses early Wednesday to head east for a couple weeks to reduce my earthly possessions again and ship the remainder here, and to go to the veggie food fest in Boston. I'm leaving another box of my stuff here so I don't have to carry it back and forth, and can carry different stuff back instead of paying to ship it. I'm spreading myself out around the country like a long distance hiker caching supplies. I think I'll reunite us all in Yellowstone in the spring and see what happens from there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Last Night in the Park

I took a few of my usual local walks today, looking around with as much wonder and delight as the first time I saw it. Actually, that's not true. I looked with more wonder and delight now that this place has become a part of me. This evening I kept getting restless in the room and going outside to see it all one more time. Yellowstone is a very difficult place to leave. Or as I put it during my work review today, "I'm only leaving because you're making me." If things work out as several people are planning it, I'll be back here to work in March.

I'll spend tomorrow in Bozeman and had checked to see if anything interesting will be going on. I discovered that Dr. Doug Smith, head of Yellowstone's Wolf Project will be speaking at the museum. So I'll have a bit of a transition evening there as well as the chance to try a new and highly recommended Thai restaurant.

Then on to Duluth to see friends and hunt for a place to live for four months. If I have no luck, I'll probably take the bus back to Bozeman and look there.

One last Yellowstone item--I'd like to introduce you to two of the people I met here. I don't like to link to pdf items but this one is worth the exception. Scroll down to page 8 and the very well-written article about a 68 year old woman who took her first hike ever here and went on to walk over 500 miles this summer, five years after breaking her hip. The pictured author is one of the folks who led hikes, trips, and other employee recreation events.

"We'll always have Yellowstone."


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Short Attention Span Wrap-Up

I finally made it to the brink of the falls and Artist's Point for the stunning view of the canyon, but I didn't have my camera. Maybe next year.

I won't be in Yellowstone this winter. I will be back in May barring unforeseen events (which is not necessarily the same as unlikely events).

Four elk jousted with clicking antlers beside the hotel, hoping that next year they'd be big enough to be in charge. Occasionally they'd swap opponents.

The guest cabins at Mammoth extend to the bottom of the hills. A couple days after they were closed for the season and became a low activity area, a beautiful coyote came strolling out a few feet away from me as I walked home from work.

I hear Bozeman has a great new Thai restaurant downtown which I'm looking forward to trying in a week, and the coop plans to open a smaller downtown branch with deli. An appealing town.

There is one less odd but lovable cat in the world tonight. There's nothing more I can say about that. Now the best thing I have to look forward to is Duluth's library (assuming I can find a place to live there) and the more than two dozen newly published books which I've added to my to be read list since I've been here.

I believe the Antelope Creek fire is out. The last update I saw said it had burned 4400 acres, but the heavy sight and smell of smoke in the air here has been missing for the past couple days.

I never did hear a cause of death of the large grizzly whose body was found and after a rapid start to the season, the number of both bear and human fatalities here stopped rising quite a while ago.

Most of my stuff is packed, and I've started accumulating the paperwork I need to leave in good graces next week. It's been a mostly good experience in a fantastic location, and now that I've learned the newbie's lessons I think a second season would be better if it happens.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More Falls

One of my first posts from Yellowstone was titled Falls, but there weren't any waterfall photos in it. This one has some, but there are more falls too.

First, a little housekeeping. I told you recently about the magpie who was repeatedly jumping up from the sidewalk to pick bugs off a truck's grill. Sunday I heard a thud at my window and with all the elk action recently, my first thought was that it was an elk. But no, it was a magpie clinging to my screen during a bug meal.

In thinking of my current vagrant life, I've been wondering how I could turn my boxes of stuff into something more portable which wouldn't require a storage unit or apartment. Since half of those boxes are books, I thought a Kindle might be a good idea--carry those five boxes with me wherever I go. So I checked into it by pulling up my spreadsheet of books in boxes and investigated to see how much it would cost to replace them all. I didn't get far: Abbey, Edward--apparently the only one of his books available on Kindle is the one novel I sold. Clearly not a workable idea.

Nothing new on the possibility of working here this winter.

Today some of us from work took a five mile drive and half mile walk to a couple waterfalls--Wraith:

and Undine:

Monday night I learned the sad news that the cat who lived with me for my last five or so years in Duluth is dying. I'm not sure if I'll make it to Duluth before he dies; I've considered leaving early or going for a weekend and would do it if I thought my company would be any comfort to him, but based on his apparent lack of recognition when he saw me in May I think my presence would just be an additional stress to him. I haven't told this to anyone here yet; I don't think I've said much of anything for the past couple days. I'm telling you to explain in advance what may be a lengthy absence as I deal with this news, finish up the next couple weeks here (no more hikes or events currently planned anyway), visit Duluth to apartment hunt, and hopefully get to Boston at the end of October for the vegetarian food festival and to ship my stuff.

Until the next post from here or somewhere out there in the other world . . .