Government shutdown! National Parks closed! I was sort of hoping they’d make us stop working, throw us out of the dorm, and give us a bus ride to the other side of the gate so I’d have to try to find a seedy motel room to hole up in in Gardiner, assuming any of them are even open. But alas, it’s business as usual here.
That business, as far as the new job, is a mixed bag—there are aspects of it I like and aspects I don’t. Don’t know if I’ll apply to do it again—if I do, it will be mostly because of a combination of wanting to live in the park in winter and not wanting to live in the outside world anymore. Oh, I’d be perfectly happy to spend my time on the internet at the Duluth library and watching the Lake until my money runs out, but looking for a job at my age and with my attitude toward human civilization—no, I think I’m at the end of the road as far as being functional and able to cope with all that again. I’m also considering volunteering here with either Yellowstone Association or Buffalo Field Campaign as other options—time will tell.
Yellowstone: “If you don’t see any animals, we have buildings you can take photos of.”
Like last year, I’ve been sick most of my first weeks here. As soon as I recovered from the first cold, a second one hit. I called in sick one day last week because I was coughing so much and so congested it would have been impossible for me to spend the day on the phone. Half the people I had spoken with the day before had commented on my cold.
But the good stuff remains very good—I had to pause on the way to work one morning because a herd of bison was making their way down a hill and across the road to munch on the hotel lawn, and after breakfast another morning I couldn’t get back to the dorm because bison had me blocked in one direction and elk in the other. And one night this week, I got a ride to the big city of Gardiner from a coworker and attended a showing of the just released on dvd The Rise of Black Wolf, filmed here in Yellowstone and introduced by the filmmaker. There was a large crowd there which probably didn’t include the person who shot a wolf in the area a month ago. There’s a reward poster in the post office offering $2500 for info.
For now, I’m looking forward to a few perks over the next couple months—a couple free meals to give the staff practice before the two restaurants here open for the season, a trip around the park to look at lodging when the roads open up (so we have a better idea what we’re talking about on the phone), and a practice wagon ride and cookout before Roosevelt opens for the season. And in five weeks or so from now, the employee recreation programming will start up again so I’ll be able to get around the park, and in another four weeks beyond that, I’ll be back to my job from last year.
From what I can see, stupidity seems to be reaching a peak in the country’s various governmental bodies. In Montana, there’s been a long list of gems such as nullifying the Endangered Species Act. Some possible hope there in the form of two newspaper polls in which about 85% have rated the legislators’ performance as poor. In Idaho, a wolf disaster emergency has been declared! According to them, the world is no longer safe for hunters, berry pickers, and pretty much anyone else who dares set foot outside. It’s amazing there’s anyone left alive in Minnesota considering how many more wolves have been living there for so many more years. Back in Minnesota, they’re more concerned about logging black walnut trees in state parks so they don’t go to waste—a couple people have brought that one to my attention.
Fortunately, the snow keeps falling and all is white again. Well, at least everything from the top of my hiking boots on down. As usual, other areas of the park have gotten much more during the past few days.