Sunday, July 14 – Half Over!

As we were discussing future activities this weekend we realized our summer adventure is already half over. We arrived here on May 19 and we leave on September 10. So we’re 8 weeks in with 8 weeks to go. In fact, in just 2 weeks we’ll begin ratcheting back our cruise schedule. Since opening on June 15th, our daily schedule has included 7 one-hour trips beginning at 9:15 in the morning with the last trip leaving at 7:15 in the evening. The first week of August the 7:15 trip will be dropped (not enough daylight) and a week later the 5:45 trip will go. It seems so soon!

That’s my view, anyway. I suppose for some of our visitors it might not be soon enough. In the Lake Area, where we live and work, time in some respects continues to stand still. We don’t have cell phone service and the only way to get broadband internet service is via satellite. We do have a brief, roughly three minute window out on the lake during our tour where cell phone signal bounces off a cluster of magic beans or something and we wondrously are temporarily re-connected with the world. This week some of our passengers found this so exciting that they not only ANSWERED THEIR CELL PHONE out on the lake when it rang during our narration, they even placed a call! I observed some other guests playing games on their phones during the tour. Really? Why take the tour?

Among the special people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting during our Yellowstone adventures is Richard. Richard is a good friend, mentor, co-worker, next door neighbor, and hiking buddy. He’s also a machine. Last weekend on Saturday we went on an 11 mile hike together. From the road between Canyon Village and Norris we hiked to Cascade Lake and then out to Observation Peak and back. This is essentially two hikes in one and the portion to Cascade Lake is easy.  Our wives accompanied us and stopped at Cascade Lake for a little fishing, while Richard and I went on. The Observation Peak portion, however, is strenuous, gaining 1400 feet in 3 miles. I hadn’t anticipated this part of the hike and didn’t have my good hiking socks so by the end of the hike my feet were ready to disown me as I hobbled the last half mile back to the truck. Richard could have gone back out and done the whole hike again.

Two days later (Monday) we were at it again, this time on Avalanche Peak, which boasts a 2100 foot elevation gain over about 2 miles! This is not a hike for the faint of heart and it kicked my butt last year when Richard and I hiked it. This time Susan, Richard’s wife, joined us and I was feeling pretty good about getting to the summit and back without feeling quite so whooped as last year. Until I remembered this: on Sunday while I was letting my legs and feet recover, both Richard and Susan had hiked Mount Washburn, completing the trek in under 4 hours! Truly a mental butt kicking!

I guess no season at Yellowstone would be complete without some drama. Last year it involved fishing. This year it was people quitting in the middle of the season. During a recent walk down to the laundry room, Mary Ann and I observed one of our neighbors hooking his truck up to his trailer – not behavior we typically see for a seasonal worker in the middle of the season. A little while later his wife walked by while I was washing our truck. When I asked her what was happening she explained that they were moving to a different campsite. This was reasonable so it didn’t seem peculiar a short time later when I saw their rig heading up the road. A couple of hours later when his co-workers arrived back in the campground the whole place was buzzing about how they’d skipped out, abandoning everyone in mid-season.

And so it goes.

Note to Richard: Thanks… I needed that.


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