So, if my summer experience at Yellowstone was so challenging, just why exactly do I want to return? Simple…all the blessings I received.
They started with my 1650-mile drive out there. I love getting behind the wheel of my car and striking out on a trip. This one featured amazing countryside, and how could I have not felt blessed when I was able to stay with family and friends, enjoying great company AND free lodging?
Typically, however, my trips don’t include dipsy-dos through interstate mediuns, as this one did on I-70 in Junction City, Kansas. Not only was a high-speed crash avoided, neither I nor my car suffered any damage. I also got to see a lovely, quaint small town as my brand-new GPS directed me to the nearest Firestone so I could make certain my 100,000 mile Focus was indeed okay. (I’d resisted buying a GPS prior to this trip. Glad I listened to that little voice urging me to get one.). Oh, and the fellow who started the whole thing because he didn’t notice me passing him at 75 mph as he yielded for merging traffic into my lane? He actually pulled onto the shoulder and waited to see if I was okay. What a thoughtful, kind gesture, and it greatly eased my aftershock.
Now, about the amazing scenery…wow.
From the windmills in Kansas, to the Rockies in Colorado, to the red rocks of Wyoming, to the vistas of the Gallatin National Forest, to the magnificence of the Grand Tetons, and to the geysers, terraces, canyons, rivers, meadows, hot springs, mud pots, valleys, caldera, waterfalls, lakes, and mountain ranges of Yellowstone, the variety and beauty of terrain and geology provided unceasing daily blessings. These were enhanced as the the vibrant green of summer changed to the subtle bronze, burgundy, straw and mocha of autumn.
The cloud formations, sunrises, sunsets, moon and stars were glorious. One of my more unique experiences was during the Perseid meteor shower when several of us were stretched out on the benches at Old Faithful listening to the geyser erupt as we gazed at the stars. Even more memorable was an exquisite double rainbow I witnessed as Old Faithful erupted. And then there was my awe while driving early the morning of August 31, watching both the blue moon set in front of me and the first blush of color from the rising sun in my rearview mirror. Wow, wow, and wow!
And then there are the critters! Though I didn’t see lions or tigers, I did spot a grizzly (bear, not NBA player), as well as coyote, moose, elk, deer, bison, bald eagle, osprey, heron, pelican, swan, big horn sheep, pronghorn sheep, badger, ground squirrels, butterflies, lizards and snakes. Hearing the coyotes howl at night was haunting, and having bison wander pretty much anywhere they wanted was unexpected. I wish I could post the video I took of a large herd of bison fording the Lamar River, but a picture will have to suffice. It was straight out of a John Wayne movie.
Speaking of history (Old westerns are history, right?), I love both history and science, and Yellowstone is all about history and science. Thanks to nightly ranger talks, I learned about the discovery of what was to become the Park, the saga of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians, how Park management has evolved over its 140-year history, the role the railroads played in its development, how tourism in the Park has changed over time, what makes Yellowstone’s geology so unique, and the intricacies of its ecology.
Being able to work in the Old Faithful area was also wonderful. It meant that I lived and worked in the most visited area of the Park where I was never bored. I had a multitude of geysers, hot springs, trails, and educational opportunities to explore. Given that I was initially assigned to another location, I realize how blessed I was by the convoluted turn of events that coalesced into my working at the perfect spot for me.
I was also blessed by my work colleagues, the guests I served, and the folks with whom I lived and played. I was fascinated by our differing backgrounds and reasons for being in Yellowstone. Despite my fear of being judged and looking stupid, pretty much everyone with whom I dealt was kind, supportive, patient and respectful. Plus, we shared lots of lots of laughs, good times, and adventures.
Without a doubt, my most precious blessings were the visits that I had from friends and family. The most unexpected was discovering that a friend from decades past has a second home not far from the Park. How heart warming it was to reconnect and visit with her! Even better, though, was having my sister visit for a week. Remembering her time there and having her show me her favorite places was priceless.
Of course I want to return to Yellowstone! Though next summer won’t be a repeat of this one, I trust it will be as special in its own right…and also filled with many blessings.
P.S. Shoot, I almost forgot one. While traveling I-70 through Kansas on my way home, I was pulled over by a local yokel cop (what is it about me in Kansas?) for doing 10 over and driving in the left lane. BUT, he gave me only a warning. Woohoo!!