Monday, August 17: Less Than a Month Left

Our contracts end September 14 or exactly 28 days from this writing. My last day on the tour boat will be the 11th. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly this season flies by! Our college-bound youngsters have already left for the real world so our staffing has been reduced on the fishing boats, the docks, and the front counter, the latter now having to work 5 days a week instead of 4. Today I went in and worked Mary Ann’s shift for a few hours so she could get caught up on some of her other work.

Looking ahead to next year, the National Park Service will celebrate its centennial and I’m bemused at the contrast between the run up to this event and that for its 50th anniversary. In 1956 the federal government launched “Mission 66”, a ten year project to upgrade the infrastructure of the national parks during which $1 billion was spent. Visitor centers were built and our marina was constructed among the myriad upgrades to the park. For the centennial the park service has invested in a new logo, a centennial logo, buttons for the rangers (that the rangers are instructed to coat with clear nail polish so the ink doesn’t come off), and a road improvement project that features chipsealing, a process where a thin layer of oil or asphalt is sprayed on and then covered with pebbles. I looked  up chipseal and learned it is “typically used on rural roads carrying lower traffic volumes”. We have close to 4 million visitors come through the park, mostly during the 3 summer months. I wonder what would be considered high volume.

Yesterday we got up early, packed Braeten into the truck and drove out to Island Park, Idaho, population 286. Seriously. We stopped at the Johnny Sack Cabin, a homestead built on land leased from the forest service by a German immigrant in 1929. Johnny built by hand the cabin and all the furniture in it. It was really fascinating to take it all in.

From there we drove south a short distance to the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, the highlight of which was upper Mesa Falls. It was not only beautiful but the overlook was no more than 15 feet from the rim and utterly breathtaking! What I found fascinating was learning that it is actually part of the Yellowstone caldera system. What an awesome day.

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