Sunday, June 16 – Passengers!

Yesterday was opening day – our season has begun! I’m partnered with Richard, a good friend and experienced seaman who drove the Lake Queen II last year. I spent the morning helping out behind the front counter in the office, as there are no other returning cashiers from last year and the crew of newbies needed some moral support. Richard drove the first 3 (of 7) trips for the day then I made it out to the boat in time for the 2:45 trip.

Much has transpired since my last post. Our work schedule for the summer is finally finalized (is it okay to say that?): we’ll work Tuesday afternoon (basically 1:00 to 8:30) then all day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (8:00 am to 8:30 pm). Mary Ann’s schedule will vary somewhat within that window but that’s the essence of it.

The weather have been very erratic. Thursday evening we held a small gathering of some friends and coworkers for a fireside dinner at the fire ring in our backyard. The evening was sunny and pleasant, albeit a tad cool. Shortly after dinner the wind abruptly picked up, clouds rolled in, and it began to rain. Everyone scrambled, making it back to their respective RVs just in time for the rain to turn to sleet. A few minutes later snow began falling and a few minutes after that we had rain again. Twenty minutes later the sun was out so we headed out for a drive to look for bears.

small fire ring


Sunset over the Yellowstone River

Sunset over the Yellowstone River

Mary Ann’s favorite activity this year is looking for bears. And there has been no shortage of them. We’ve probably seen a dozen of of the critters, mostly grizzlies. On a rare day off last week (I don’t recall exactly what day it was) we decided to go on an organized photo safari. The company we work for offers several photo safaris to and from different locations in the park. As employees we are able to join these groups free if space is available. The group Mary Ann wanted to join met at 5:45 in the morning so we had the dubious pleasure of getting up at 4:30. Space was available so we were able to participate.

About an hour into the trip we spotted a grizzly by the northeast section of the lake, wandering up a hill. A few seconds later we spotted a coyote moving toward the bear… not exactly behavior one would expect to see. After a short time it became clear that it was a female coyote protecting her den and the bear was not welcome. The standoff lasted the better part of an hour and of course resulted in some awesome pictures.

small bear coyote

Another enjoyable activity in recent days was a hike up Mount Washburn, one of my favorite hikes. Richard and I went along with one of the fishing guides. We did this hike a few times last year a few weeks later in the season. It just so happens that this early in the year the trail is still covered with snow. A LOT of snow. Over about half the 3.5 mile (each way) trail. In places the drifts were at least 8 feet high. It made for a most challenging and enjoyable hike.

Of course it wouldn’t be Yellowstone without a few knuckleheads. We’ve had our share of drivers stopping in the middle of the road to photograph bison and folks getting up close and personal with elk, bison, and foxes. Yesterday at the marina the ugly side of “entitled” visitors was on display. When visitors rent one of our motorboats (these are nice 18 foot aluminum boats with 40 horsepower Honda four stroke outboards), as part of the safety briefing we instruct them to remain at least 300 yards from shore (to avoid damaging the boat on submerged rocks) and not to beach or get out of the boat (to avoid damaging the propeller).

Early in the afternoon one of our fishing guides reported seeing one of our rentals beached at the island about a 20 minute ride from the marina. An employee was dispatched to the location to advise the recalcitrant visitor to get off the island. When she got there the boat was longer beached but was in very shallow water. The visitor became indignant and told the employee they were fishing and needed to be in shallow water. They did later admit to having beached the boat because – get this: the wife had to pee.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Note to park visitors: Play nice. We’re all in this together.

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3 Responses to Sunday, June 16 – Passengers!

  1. Curtis says:

    Which is more wild; the native species or the visitors?
    Wildlife or wildwife… Hmmm – Just goes to show…

  2. Maggie says:

    John and Mary Ann: This is so awesome. I’ll keep watching. My cousin’s daughter is working in the park for the summer. They drove cross country non-stop from Cary, NC so he and his other daughter could see the park again. He worked in the park in the 80s. Lost a summer’s worth of pictures and wanted to recapture the experience. Take care.

  3. Jim says:

    I love the picture of the lake and the mountains. Absolutely beautiful.