Sunday, August 31, 2014

No Vacancy Once Again

            Well, surprisingly, Jackson Lake Lodge was sold out last night. I guess I didn’t even think about the fact that it was Labor Day weekend until I got to work at three yesterday and saw that we were at full capacity. That definitely also had to do with the fact that we had 238 check-outs expected today. I’m sure Cristina and Nate have been very busy at the desk this morning taking care of those.
            Despite the fact that we were sold out last night, it was actually a pretty easy shift. The majority of the check-ins were taken care of pretty early, and by 8:30 we were down to less than twenty remaining. Jen, Sofi, Felix and I just browsed the Internet and talked to each other for most of the time after that. Those are actually all the same people that I’m working with tonight.
            I just got back from having lunch at the EDR with Nate, Maggie, and Alyson. Maggie’s also working this morning, and she told me to prepare for a slow night. When I looked at the schedule last night we only had 108 check-ins to take care of tonight, and Maggie told me that the morning shift has already done a few of those and inevitably will do some more before I go into work at three. I’m sure that at least one of the desk agents will go home early tonight.
            Rob was making the schedule when we arrived at work yesterday. Thankfully, on my last morning shift, a week from today, I have the morning shift like I asked. Soon I’m going to get a couple of boxes from the bellmen and ship some of my stuff back home. After being here for almost four months, it’s crazy to think that a week from tomorrow, I’ll be home. It’s been an amazing few months, but I’m ready to be back in San Antonio.
            The weather here today is cold and kind of rainy. When I woke up this morning I could hear the rain coming down outside my window. By the time I stepped out to go to lunch it had mostly stopped, but was still really cloudy and pretty cold. It’s about 46 degrees outside right now, and almost one o’clock in the afternoon. This place has probably the strangest weather of anywhere I’ve ever been. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I Will Remember You

            I just got back from having lunch at the EDR with Nate and Alyson, who works at the activities desk. They’re both working this morning, and said that it’s been pretty slow so far in the lobby. It will probably be an easy shift later on as well. As I said yesterday, we have 190 check-ins scheduled, but as long as housekeeping has the rooms ready in time, we should be fine. The earlier shift should actually be able to take care of some of those check-ins before I even get there. Nate also mentioned that we have a Backroads group coming in today, and maybe a few other tours as well. I think our time of really busy, hard shifts at the desk is over.
            Today Rob’s making the schedule for next week. When I go in at three I’ll have to make sure that I get the morning shift on the seventh, which is my last day at work. I’ll miss having Rob as a boss; he’s pretty fun to work with. Pretty much everyone here is nice to work and hang out with. I definitely miss my friends at the zoo, though, and can’t wait to be with them again.
            There are a lot of great memories that I’ve made here in this park over the summer. Kayaking on Jackson Lake, cliff jumping into the Gros Ventre River, and camping out the night before the fourth of July are just of the experiences that I’ll never forget and will be very special to me. More than anything, though, I’ll take the friendships that I’ve made this summer with me wherever I go. I hope that, when I say goodbye to these people in eight days, that it’ll be only a temporary goodbye and that, in whatever circumstance, I’ll see them again sometime. Whether that be back here in a future season, or somewhere else in the world, I’d really like to see my friends here again sometime, especially Cristina, Jesse, Tanner, and Nate. They’ve come to feel like family in the few short months since we met. We all come from different areas: Cristina from Florida, Nate from Arizona, Jesse from Michigan, Tanner from Virginia, and me from Texas. Different ages, different families, different backgrounds, yet we’ve become so close to each other since we moved into this spectacular place in May. And even if next week’s goodbye is a permanent one, and I won’t get to see them again, those four people especially helped to make these last few months the best summer of my life.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Closing Time

When I arrived at the desk for work at about seven this morning, there were only ninety departures scheduled for the day. I don't remember ever seeing the number of check-outs being that low. I didn’t feel fully awake when I got to the desk, but it didn’t really matter since the lobby was so empty. Cristina, Rebecca and I knew it was going to be a long, slow morning, especially considering the fact that quite a few people don't even come to the desk to check out, but just leave the keys in their room. The only thing that occasionally makes check-outs a little more difficult is if there's a problem with the bill, but even that doesn't happen very often.
By the time I went to lunch the number of departures remaining had dropped from ninety down to about twenty. The rest of the shift was mainly just the three of us browsing the internet on our computers and occasionally checking people in that came in early. It was a very easy shift.
Cristina and I left at three, came back to our room, and relaxed until about 5:30, when we headed to dinner. We met and sat with Nate, Tanner and Brian in the EDR. They’d all had the day off, and had spent most of it going for a long hike over in Paintbrush Canyon. They looked a little worn out, but also happy.
Tomorrow I go into work at three, which I’m happy about. If I had to choose between being at the desk at seven in the morning or eleven o’clock at night, I’d prefer the latter. Both shifts have their typical busy times and slow times, and overall I’d say that the later shift is busier. I still like it better though. When I looked at the schedule I saw that we have about 190 expected arrivals for tomorrow, which is more than we’ve had in a while, but not overwhelming. Hopefully we have at least a couple of tours coming in. Sunday looks really easy for the later shift, with only exactly one hundred check-ins to take care of. Cristina and Nate, who work the earlier shift that day, will be really busy though; there’s about 230 check-outs scheduled. Even though check-outs are easier, I think that their shift that day will be harder than mine.
It definitely feels like the season is very close to its end. I can tell that some employees have already left; the EDR doesn’t feel as full at meals anymore. There are also a few signs up in employee areas asking if anyone wants to stay a few extra days to help the lodge close up for the winter. The end is definitely near…
 I work with Jen, Felix and Sofi for the next two days. Then on Monday I work with David, Maggie and Jen, before beginning my next and last weekend here in this park. I have nine more full days here until I head back home. Yes, I’m pretty much counting down at this point. I still love this place, but I’m ready to be back in San Antonio. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Happy Ending

            Today overall went very similar to yesterday (not that that’s a bad thing). I relaxed out on the back porch that I love so much, went to the pool for very possibly the last time, and called a few friends back home. It was a good day. I’m not certain that today was my last day at the pool. Tomorrow I work the earlier shift at the desk, so if the weather stays as nice as it was today, I may go back there for a while after work.
            My schedule this week looks pretty easy. It’s another four day week, with my next days off being Tuesday and Wednesday. As I said, I work the earlier shift tomorrow, then the later shift the next three days. That will be my final “weekend” to enjoy here in this awesome park. In total, it looks like I have ten more full days to spend here before I board a plane out of Jackson Hole bright and early on the morning of the eighth. I’m honestly not sad about that though. The excitement for going home is definitely overpowering the sadness of leaving. I’ll miss this place, of course, and especially these people, but mainly I just want to go home. It turns out I’ll be home just in time for the animal handling update training at the zoo. I’m really glad that I’m not missing that, like I thought I would.
            Tonight is actually the docent recognition dinner at the zoo. This time it’s being held in the new restaurant in zootennial plaza, instead of in Africa Live. It makes me kind of sad to be missing that- reminds me of the feeling I got the night of bowling for rhinos at the beginning of the season. That was the first one of those events that I’d missed since I first started at the zoo, so missing it was hard. I can’t wait to go back to the zoo and see the docents, staff, new baby gibbon, and everything else about that place that I love so much.
            Last night I went and hung out at the Whistle Pig with a few people from the activities desk, and other staff that I know. I’ll miss having that place to go play pool in, put music on the juke box, and just relax and hang out with other employees. I’m really glad the company gave us a place like that.
            Tomorrow I’ll be working with Cristina, Rebecca, and Rob. It feels like a while since I’ve actually worked with Rob, since he almost always works the earlier shift, and I’m usually working the later one. He’s pretty fun to work with though, as are Cristina and Rebecca. Cristina and I also don’t work together very often, but of course we still see each other every day. One thing that I think makes Cristina and me work together as roommates so well is the fact that neither of us feel the need to constantly be talking to each other when we’re in the room together. Especially at night, when we’re tired, we’re both perfectly content to just sit on our beds and read or be on our laptops instead of talking. Now, there are times when we’ll choose to talk to each other as well, of course, but sometimes it’s nice to just sit in silence without it feeling awkward.
            I just got finished spending some time out on the picnic table on the back porch with Cristina, Tanner, Jesse and Nate. I’m going to miss the four of them more than anyone else that I’ve met here. They’re a lot of fun to hang out with. I don’t think I’ll go to the Whistle Pig tonight since I have to get up early for work tomorrow, but I’ll probably go there for at least a couple of nights this week after work. I’m sure I’ll also spend a few mornings up on Lunch Tree Hill, enjoying the amazing view up there. I want to enjoy those kinds of things as much as I can, while I still have them. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pocketful Of Sunshine

            Today was a very nice and relaxing beginning to my next to last weekend here in Grand Teton National Park. It’s been pretty cold and rainy the past few days here, but thankfully the weather today cooperated enough to let me spend some time in the pool this afternoon. It was nice and sunny, with the temperature in the low seventies. It’s predicted to be the same tomorrow as well, so hopefully I can go back to the pool. The water felt absolutely great, as it always does.
            Yesterday I got off work a little early, as I kind of expected to. It was another slow evening at the desk with me, Sofi, Maggie, and Emily. We’d had a couple of groups come in, and so by about nine there were less than twenty check-ins left, which is when I went home. I also got a tip at work yesterday from a couple that was here for their anniversary that I upgraded from a classic cottage to a mountain view room. Since we’re not sold out anymore, we’re able to do that kind of thing a little more, which is nice. Front desk agents almost never get tipped, so it was nice to get one.
            Rob was back at work yesterday, so he heard that I’d put in my two weeks notice. I asked him if I could be scheduled to have the earlier shift on the seventh, which will be my last day. Seeing as how I’ll also have to turn in my bank and uniform that day, and I have to leave the lodge at five o’clock in the morning the next day in order to get to the airport on time. He said to remind him again later in the week, and he’ll make sure I get the earlier shift.
            Today Jesse and I both headed over to the EDR for lunch at the same time. He didn’t go into work until this evening. When I told him that I was planning on getting a taxi to the airport on the eighth, he offered to drive me instead. I told him that I’d have to leave really early, but he said that as long as he wasn’t working really late the night before, he wouldn’t mind getting up early to drive me. I was pretty surprised that he actually offered to do that, but thought it was awesome. Hopefully Steve, his boss, doesn’t make him work the previous night.
            Well, I don’t really have any other news from today. I think I’ll head over to the Whistle Pig tonight. I really love that place, and don’t really have many more opportunities to go hang out there. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Someday Soon

            Well, thankfully I didn’t have to jump out of bed early this morning to catch the shuttle into town again. As I said in yesterday’s post, hanging around Jackson was actually pretty fun, but it was nice to be able to just sleep this morning. The rest of last night’s shift at the desk was very easy and slow, like the last few have been. Looking at the schedule of arrivals last night I saw that we have about 125 check-ins to take care of today, which will also be really easy. It’ll be me, Sofi, Maggie, and Emily working the desk for this shift. I think there’s probably a decent chance that I’ll get to leave work early this evening simply because I don’t think they’ll need all of us there the whole time, especially if we have any groups coming in. That always makes it easier. Also, since we haven’t been sold out in a while, housekeeping has been getting the rooms ready ahead of time every day, so we’re always able to get people into their rooms by four, or usually earlier.
            I’m definitely happy that today’s my Friday. Even though it’s only been a four day week, I’m ready for a couple of days off. The sun’s out today, so it’s a little warmer than it’s been the past few days- it’s in the low sixties right now. The next few days it’s supposed to get into the seventies, so maybe I’ll be able to go to the pool again. It’ll close up for the season right before I leave. If I don’t do that, I’ll at least have to go for a hike or something like that. I want to really enjoy my last few days to myself in this beautiful park.
            Rob’s been off the past few days, but he’s back today, which means today’s the day he’ll probably find out that I’m leaving early. I’ll try to find time to talk to him today to ask if I can have the earlier shift on the seventh, which is my last day. I’ll also have to turn in my uniform and bank that day, and finish packing up, not to mention I have to leave here at about five o’clock the next morning to get to the airport in time for my flight. Considering all of that, I’d really like to not have to be at the desk until eleven that night. If I tell him all of that, I think he’ll agree to give me the earlier shift that day.
            It’s really nice to think that, two weeks from today, I’ll be sleeping in my own bed back home in San Antonio. Just that in itself is something I’m looking forward to. The mattress I have here in my dorm room takes “firm” to the next level. I’ve woken up many, many morning with a sore hip, shoulder, or both because the mattress I’m sleeping on has almost no give to it. I’m definitely ready to be back in my own, soft bed back home. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

All By Myself

Well, I think this is the first time I've worked the later shift at the desk when I haven't posted a blog update earlier. In fact, I'm currently writing this post as an email note to myself while standing here at the desk. Normally I'd have no trouble updating my blog before coming into work, but it's already been a really full day for me! I'd been needing to head into town to pick up a few prescriptions and other things at the Albertson's there, but I hadn't been able to find anyone I knew that was going. Yesterday at work I grabbed a shuttle schedule and printed out a schedule for the bus that goes around the town since I knew that I had to pick up the prescriptions today. Thankfully, both the shuttle around the park and the town bus are free and pretty easy to use.
After getting up as quietly as possible to avoid waking Cristina, who's off today, and grabbing breakfast in the EDR, I got on the shuttle in front of the lodge at about 8:30. After making several stops in between, we got to the edge of town a little before ten, and just a few minutes later I was on the town bus heading for the Albertson's. Thankfully the bus dropped me off pretty much right outside the parking lot of the store, since the temperature was in the thirties. The sun was fighting to come out, so it eventually warmed up a little, but not too much. After grabbing my prescriptions in the pharmacy, I picked up a few other things, then ordered a small cup of coffee from the Starbucks that was inside the Albertson's and sat at a little table by the fireplace to relax for a bit. Yes, you read that right- there's a fireplace right inside the grocery store. And, even crazier, it was lit and burning brightly in August! It was insane for me, but here they seem to actually need it. It definitely felt good to warm up there by the fire with the coffee. When I was finished with that I left the store and walked a few blocks over to a small fast food place to grab a quick lunch, since I knew that by the time I got back to the lodge, the EDR would be closed. As I was eating lunch, I realized it was a little strange how comfortable and at ease I felt. I was on my own, with only the buses for transportation, in a town that I'd only known for a few months. Yes, Jackson is a pretty easy to navigate place, but it still surprised me how at ease I felt, especially considering that I had to be back at the edge of town by 12:30 to catch the shuttle back to the lodge. Despite being alone and on a time limit in a fairly unfamiliar town, I didn't feel at all rushed, lost, or unsafe. At one point I actually thought to myself, does this mean I'm growing up?
I ate lunch, got the town bus to the edge of Jackson, and caught the park shuttle, getting back to the lodge at about two. Cristina's been feeling a little bit sick the past couple of days, and when I got back to our room she was sound asleep. I put away the things I'd picked up and had just a few precious minutes of relaxation before getting ready to head into work.
So I've basically been running around since I first got up this morning, which is why I haven't been able to write a blog post yet. Using the shuttles to get both to and from town, as well as around inside it, was surprisingly very easy. Looking at the schedules at work last night I thought I might be a bit rushed to get back to the edge of town by 12:30, but it wasn't hard at all. The first shuttle actually dropped us off in town a little earlier than the schedule said, so I was able to get an earlier bus to the Albertson's, which definitely made me feel less rushed.
The weather today has made it pretty clear that summer here is over. When I headed out this morning it was 36 degrees outside, and stayed that way for most of the morning since it was mostly cloudy. While I was eating lunch the sun started fighting its way out, so it warmed up some this afternoon, but not much. I think it might've gotten into the mid fifties at some point this afternoon, but now it's gone down again. Right after I got into work it started raining. The downpour didn't last long, but while it did, it was strong!
I currently have about an hour left of tonight's shift, and there are already less than ten check-ins left. I've been working with Sofi and Maggie. Jen was here for a while at the beginning of the shift, but she left because she wasn't feeling good. Thankfully it's been a really slow night, so Maggie, Sofi and I can easily handle it. I think tomorrow I'll probably sleep in since I wasn't able to do that this morning. I go back into the desk at three, then I have Wednesday and Thursday off. Today's been a busy day, but hanging around Jackson by myself this morning was actually pretty fun. Don't get me wrong, it's fun to hang out there with friends too, but sometimes just being independent is nice.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

We Always Find Our Way Back Home

            Last night’s shift at work was really slow and easy. When Nate, Rebecca, and I arrived, we had about 115 check-ins to take care of. We were also expecting three groups, two of which we could batch check-in, which made it a lot easier. Since we didn’t have as many check-ins today, housekeeping was really on top of things, and had most of the rooms ready even before four o’clock. We didn’t have any problems with any of the rooms or guests, making it a very simple, easy shift, even though it got really slow for the last few hours of the night.
            Today I work the same shift with Nate, Sofia, and Jen. When I looked at the schedule yesterday, I saw that we had a lot more check-outs than check-ins today; about 250 check-outs and 160 check-ins. Hopefully housekeeping will do as good a job as they did yesterday, and we can start getting people into clean rooms by four, if not earlier. One hundred and sixty check-ins is more than we had yesterday, but we’ve certainly taken care of more than that pretty easily, so this shouldn’t be a bad shift either. We weren’t sold out last night- I think we ended the night being at about 94 percent capacity. Today we’ll be at considerably less than that since we have so many more people leaving than arriving. The good thing about that is we’ll be able to take in walk-ins, which we haven’t been able to do in quite a while.
            Now that I’ve already told Nate, Jesse, Tanner, and Cristina this in person, I guess it’s safe to announce this to everyone else on here. Today I officially put in my two weeks notice with my manager. I love everything about this park, except for the fact that it’s not home. I love waking up to the almost unreal beauty of the mountains, seeing the neighborhood foxes running around near my back door, the beautiful smell of rain mixed with pine trees that could never be recreated by people, and the wonderful friends that I’ve come to be so close to in only a few months. But, despite all of that, deep down I’ll always be a Texas girl, and I’m ready to come home to the city and the people (and, I’ll admit, the food) that I love so much. I’m really glad that I got a change of scenery this summer- I think that it’s just what I needed- and I don’t regret one second of being here. That being said, with my notice at work put in and plane ticket already booked for September 8, I’m counting down the days until I’m back in good old Texas! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bitter End

            Well, the temperature’s still in the forties here today. It’s not raining anymore, but it is still really cloudy so I doubt it’ll warm up much. I just got back to my room from having lunch in the EDR with Nate. He also goes into work at three today, along with Rebecca and Jen. He was working last night as well, and when I asked how it was he said it’d been really slow pretty much the whole night. We saw Haley in the EDR, who’s working the morning shift today, and she said it’s been really slow so far today as well. Our busy season is definitely ending. Tonight should be very easy; I don’t know how many check-ins we have to do, but probably not very many. Nate said that when he came in yesterday, there were less than a hundred check-ins to do. It hasn’t been that low since the beginning of the season.
            This will be a four-day week for me since Rob gave me my normal Wednesday-Thursday weekend back. I just looked at the schedule, and all of my shifts this week are the later ones, which is fine with me, especially since I doubt we’ll be sold out any of those days. Today is actually Haley’s last day here at work. She was using this job as an internship, and she needs to head home to get ready for school to start back up. I know several other people who have also already left, for school or other reasons. It’s sad to see them go, but it’s just another sign that the season is coming to a close. I think that the summer weather here is completely over now, which is part of the reason that our occupancy levels are going down. Not as many people want to come out here in this weather. I don’t mind it, but that’s mainly because I was also here in the middle of summer, when it was almost constantly in the low seventies. I learned recently that the swimming pool here at Jackson Lake Lodge was the first swimming pool in all of Wyoming, and I think my time using it is over. It’s not officially closed just yet, but I don’t think anyone’s going to want to go swimming in cloudy, forty-five degree weather. It’s supposed to clear up a bit tomorrow, but even so, the high is only predicted to be about sixty. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Colder Weather

            This will be a short post since there’s not a whole lot to say, and yesterday’s post was one of the longest ones that I’ve done. The temperature’s been in the forties here all day, and it’s been raining on and off, so I’ve had kind of a lazy day. Thankfully I did quite a bit with my day off yesterday, so I can kind of justify not doing too much today, especially considering the weather. I think that “summer” here is pretty much over. It’s expected to stay in the forties and fifties until at least Tuesday. It might warm up a bit after that, but probably not much. This weather feels especially weird knowing that the temperature is still in the triple digits back home. I woke up last night feeling pretty cold, so I pulled an extra blanket up over me. Cristina and I will probably go back to turning the heater in our room on at night soon, like we did at the beginning of the season. The weather here seems to be the total opposite of home, what with having such a short summer and long winter. And even what they call summer here would feel more like spring or fall back in San Antonio. I’ve actually heard that you could pick any day on the calendar, and sometime in the past 100 years there’s been snow in this park on that day. I definitely remember the crazy feeling of looking out the window on the morning of June eighteenth and seeing it actively snowing. Cristina and I both thought it was insane.
            I go back into work tomorrow at three. It’s felt really weird, but nice, having so much time off this week. What with schools starting back up and summer weather ending, our busiest part of the season is coming to a close. Most employees are getting more time off than the past months, and the overall stress of being constantly sold out is starting to fade away. I’m honestly not sad that this season is coming to a close. There are things about this place that I’ll miss, for sure. But there are also so many things about home that I’m missing and looking forward to returning to. It’s been amazing to get a change in scenery this summer, but I’m glad that this adventure was temporary. It’d be really hard for me to move away from Texas permanently. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Midnight Sun Where The Hot Springs Blow

The obligatory picture by the sign

One of the hot springs we saw

Old Faithful in all its glory

Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River

The stunning Lower Falls surrounded by the beautiful canyon walls that gave this park its name 

            Okay, first of all, I just have to say that this lyric has always kind of annoyed me because hot springs don’t really “blow”. Geysers do. But, anyway, it fit for today’s post. Yesterday I mentioned that I had an activity planned out for today that I was pretty excited about. Well, I finally got on the bus tour up to Yellowstone for the day! I’d been meaning to do it all season, and finally got to go today. It was me and fifteen other guests on the bus, plus the driver/guide.
            We left from the lodge at about 8:30 this morning. The first quick stop we made was at Flagg Ranch, just below the south border of Yellowstone, to pick up a couple more people. We also made a quick stop at the entrance of the park. Warren, the driver, took pictures of all of us in front of the Yellowstone sign. Early on the drive he told us that he’s originally from Oregon, and this is his seventh season leading the bus tours here. His wife works in the reservations department. They both work here in the summer, Colorado in the winter, and they travel in between. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
            Our next stop was at an area that had several hot springs and mud pots. Yellowstone is home to the greatest concentration of geothermal features (mud pots, hot springs, and geysers) in the world, and they’re the main reason that it became the first national park in 1872. The hot springs especially are very beautiful, since they have such crazy colors. They’re also the reason that Yellowstone is one of the more dangerous of the national parks. There are cases every year of people illegally stepping off of the boardwalks around the hot springs and getting too close to take pictures. The boardwalks are there because the ground near the hot springs is often very thin, and usually when people walk on it, they break through, fall into the hot spring, and literally boil to death. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is called natural selection.
            We walked around that area for a while, getting pictures and enjoying the beauty of the hot springs. Our next stop was at the most famous geyser in the world, Old Faithful (or Old Slightly Irregular, as the employees call it). The beautiful Old Faithful Inn is, appropriately, very close to it, and most of us ate lunch on their upper balcony, which has a great view of the geyser. It went off about twenty minutes after we arrived. The eruption lasted about three minutes, with water shooting up to about 150 feet into the air. It was definitely an impressive spectacle.
            After the eruption finished, I explored the inside of the beautiful inn until it was time to return to the bus. It had a very rustic feel inside, with nearly everything made of wood, a large fireplace in the center of the lobby, and some rocking chairs placed around it.
            The next stop after Old Faithful was to see the largest hot spring in the park, Grand Prismatic. It’s considered the third largest hot spring in the world, with the water in it getting up to 200 degrees. The colors in this spring are really amazing, with deep blue water in middle, turning yellow, then orange, then brown around the edges. It was drizzling a little when we got out, so I decided not to bring my camera. I knew this wouldn’t be my only chance to see it anyway.    
            We spent about twenty minutes walking around the boardwalk the surrounded the beautiful hot spring, before the cold, wet air drove us back to the shelter of the bus. It was a lot colder in Yellowstone than it was at the lodge, which I wasn’t too surprised about. The elevation throughout Yellowstone is about a thousand feet more than the lower park, so naturally it was colder there.
            After the hot springs, our next stop was to see Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. Both are beautiful, but Lower Falls is more impressive just due to its size. It’s a little over a 300 foot waterfall, and is considered to be one of the most scenic waterfalls in the world. It drops the Yellowstone River into a huge canyon with bright colored rock walls that gave the park its name. It wasn’t raining there, thankfully, since it was a perfect picture spot.
            We returned through Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley, which are some of the top wildlife viewing spots in the park. We saw bison, elk, deer, moose, foxes, a coyote, and even a grizzly bear and a few wolves. It was a great trip back. As we drove by part of Yellowstone Lake (which is absolutely HUGE!!), I saw some cormorants playing in the water, and it reminded me of the cormorants that hang around the river by the zoo back home. They’re one of my favorite species of birds.
            I got back to the lodge just in time to meet Tanner and Cristina for dinner at the EDR. The weather’s a little rainy here tonight; I like the sound of the rain outside my back door here in the dorm. I have tomorrow off as well, and don’t have any plans so far. Tanner’s off as well, so maybe he and I will do something. I don’t expect to do anything big though.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Another Weekend In The Park!

Well, last night's shift definitely had some... interesting moments, but overall it wasn't hard. I was working with Sofi and Rebecca, with Rob as our supervisor on duty. We had about 150 check-ins expected when we arrived, and were at about 90 percent capacity. For the first time in a long time, we weren't sold out at the end of the night, which was fine with me. The night ran very smoothly, with housekeeping getting most of the rooms ready on time and a lot of the guests actually being really pleasant and nice to work with. It wasn't until later in the night that we got some drama. It started with seeing several NPS officers come into the main lobby and quickly go up the grand staircase. Soon, a few more followed them. Rob went to check it out and came back to tell us that a guest had somehow seriously hit her head while eating in the Pioneer Grill. I'm not exactly sure how that ended, but the lobby calmed back down after a while. The next fun bit of drama was a bat flying right through the front doors of the lodge and into the lobby. Thankfully there weren't very many people in there by that time, but those that were definitely seemed a bit freaked out by it, including my coworkers. Eventually a staff member from maintenance was able to catch it with a net and rerelease it outside (away from the lodge). Overall it turned out to be an exciting but not difficult night.
I returned to work this morning at seven, along with Cristina and Rebecca, with Emily as our supervisor. Today is Jen's birthday, so she thankfully has the day off to have fun. Last night some people from the desk, and some other departments, went camping together to celebrate her birthday. I would've gone, but what with working until eleven last night and having to come back in at seven this morning, I wouldn't have been able to really spend much time there. Emily had gone, and she said that it'd been a really fun night.
This morning, not long after we arrived at the desk, Heidi, the hotel operator for this shift, came in with a scraped up knee and hand. She said that she'd fallen while walking to the lodge. Elena, who was the supervisor here at the time, cleaned and bandaged up the scrapes, and said that she could go home if she needed to. I offered to take over the operator's job for the shift if she wanted to leave; I've taken over it for meal breaks plenty of times, and it's a super easy job. Just being able to sit down, and not being right in front of the guests makes it a lot easier. Heidi ended up sticking around until I got back from the first lunch break and took over for the rest of the shift.
After work, Cristina and I came home and relaxed in our room until dinnertime. Since I worked until a little after eleven last night, I didn't get quite as much sleep as I would've liked, so just going home and resting sounded really good when we got off today.
It feels weird having the next two days off since I've only worked two days since my last weekend, but I'm not complaining. I've got an activity planned for tomorrow that I'm pretty excited about; it should last most of the day, and be a lot of fun. It started raining here shortly after I got back from dinner, and it might rain tomorrow too, so I’m not sure yet if I’ll bring my camera on it or not. We’ll see. Either way, it should be a really fun day off. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fun, Friends, And Job Fairs

            So, since I did something different with yesterday’s post, I guess I’ll use this one to share what little news I have of the past two days. Yesterday was another really nice day off, and was actually spent in a very similar way as the previous one. The only commitment I had was to attend the company safety meeting, which started at one. Rob said it was up to me if I wanted to go or not, but I figured since it was such an easy thing to do, I’d go ahead and attend.
            After having lunch in the EDR with Cristina, Tanner and David, I headed to the front desk to grab my notebook and went up to one of the lodge’s conference rooms, where the meeting was being held. It was lead by Carla from HR, and had representatives from most departments, here as well as the other properties, attending. The meeting lasted a little over an hour and, as I presumed, was an incredibly simple time at “work”.
            After heading out of the lodge at about 2:15, I changed into my swimsuit, put on some sunblock, and walked back over to the pool. I spent over an hour enjoying the beautiful, warm water, and sitting out in the clean air, taking in the sun. Like the day before, it was a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
            When I returned to my dorm after the pool, Cristina and I relaxed in the room until dinnertime, when we walked over to the EDR with Jesse to eat.
            I woke up this morning early enough to go to breakfast, meeting Nate and David in the EDR before they went in to work the morning shift today. After walking back to the room after breakfast, I read and relaxed some in our room and on the back porch until about 11:30, when Cristina, Jesse and I all headed to lunch together. We saw David, Tanner and Maggie sitting in the EDR when we arrived, and we joined them to eat. There’s a winter job fair going on in one of the conference rooms in the lodge today. I might go this afternoon before work, but I don’t think there will be much point to it, since I already know I’m coming home when the season’s over. A lot of my coworkers are talking a lot about where they’re going and what jobs they’ll have during the winter season. I think that, more than anything, the change in conversation is what makes it feel like this season is near its end. I know, we still have over a month left, but the end really does seem to be coming fast, which I have mixed feelings about. I know that, when I leave, I’ll miss this place and these people. At the same time, though, I won’t be sad to go back home to San Antonio.
            I go into work at three today, working with Rebecca, Maggie and Rob. We have about 150 check-ins to do, and we’re currently at ninety percent capacity; I’m sure that will go up before the end of the day, though, due to walk-ins. Tomorrow I work the morning shift with Cristina, Rebecca and Emily, so I hope I’ll be able to leave right at eleven today, or as close to it as possible. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Boys Of Summer

            Okay, I think a lot of you knew that this post, or something like it, was coming. When I told people back home my plans to come here for the summer, one of the most common responses I heard was “you’re going to meet someone and fall in love while you’re there!”. Well, first off let me just say that the falling in love part has NOT happened, but I have met a lot of really great people in the months that I’ve been here. There are mainly three guys that I’ve met here that I’ve loved knowing most of all. I’ve wanted to make a post that mainly highlights them, and since there’s not a lot of news to share about today, I figured now’s as good a time as any to do just that. Here goes (and I’m going to write these as if I’m talking to the people mentioned):
            Tanner- I guess it’s appropriate to start with you since you were the first person I met when I came here. When you helped me carry my bags from the car into my dorm room on the day I moved in, I assumed you were a nice guy, but I’ll admit I didn’t expect that you’d become one of my best friends here. When we went on the Inspiration Point hike, you were the comic relief that kept me going. I love your lack of inhibitions, our games of rock-paper-scissors across the lobby on slow days, your willingness to sing “Man, I Feel Like A Woman” at karaoke, and the fact that it’s rare for a day here to go by without you giving me a high five. You’re a genuine sweetheart and an awesome neighbor.
            Jesse- Wow, there’s so much I can say about you. Not long after we met, you told me that you have a habit of taking on a big brother role for your friends, especially your female friends. Well, you were right. The more we’ve hung out this season, the more I’ve started to see you in a big brother kind of way. Thank you for dragging me along on the Inspiration Point hike with Tanner and Kelsey even though I originally said I didn’t want to go, making coffee for us in the mornings, loaning us your tent to go camping, driving me into town when I needed to pick up some things, and grilling awesome food on the back porch when we got tired of the EDR. You’re probably the main reason that I’ve loved having a back door. Cristina and I got very lucky getting the room next to you.
            And Nate- The first thing I remember learning about you is that you previously spent time working in Australia, so I’m not going to lie, I kind of hated you to begin with. As we talked more, though, that quickly changed. I’m still pretty jealous, I admit, but it’s been awesome knowing you this summer. I loved taking my first hike of the season with you, quizzing you and David on animal facts when the desk was slow, and creating phrases about you that sounded like Chuck Norris jokes (as Tanner said, if God came down to earth and saw Nate, he’d be like, ‘my work here is done!’). One of my favorite memories of this summer was posting those first few pictures of you on facebook, followed by a bunch of friends from back home contacting me demanding to “hear more about that Nate guy”. I also just have to add that, for the rest of my life, whenever I hear “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”, I’ll think of you.
            Well, there you have it. I’ve met other cool people this summer, of course, but those are some of the main ones. Not much news here other than that. Tomorrow afternoon, it’s back into work! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Might As Well Swim

            So far it’s been a really nice day off. But let’s start with yesterday’s news, right where the last post left off. Last night, after another easy shift, Nate and I went over to the Whistle Pig, meeting up with Elliot and some other friends. We ended up hanging out in there until it closed at midnight, then talking with everybody right outside the Whistle Pig for at least another half hour, until the cold got the better of us. It’s so weird to me that, no matter how warm it gets during the day, the temperature drops a huge amount once the sun goes down!
            Since I was out so late last night, I didn’t get up early for breakfast this morning. When I got up I decided to go back up to Lunch Tree Hill to just sit and enjoy the incredible view, as I like to do some mornings. That spot really seems to have one of the best views in the entire park, and to think that it’s only about fifteen minutes from my dorm is pretty spectacular.
            I went and sat up on the hill for a while, taking in the beauty of the scene that never fails to amaze me. I saw a few moose out in the willow flats beneath me, along with some elk and a variety of cool birds. The ravens that live around here are getting absolutely huge, and their call is one of the creepiest sounds I’ve ever heard. They’re probably the smartest of the native species here as well. Fun fact- ravens are one of very few animals that can recognize their reflection in a mirror (as opposed to seeing it and thinking it’s another animal).
            Soon after returning to my dorm from Lunch Tree Hill, I headed to the EDR for lunch with Jesse, Maggie and Nate. Nate’s working the later shift today, and Maggie’s off. Walking back after lunch, I decided to go to the pool to enjoy the beautiful, sunny day. The pool will close in early September, so I definitely want to use it as much as I can before that. Surprisingly, it really wasn’t very crowded. I spent quite a while in the fairly warm water, then some more time relaxing on one of the chairs around the pool. It was sunny but also fairly windy, making the water feel warmer than the air.
            After coming back to my dorm from the pool, I showered and relaxed out on the back porch until heading to dinner with Jesse. Cristina and Tanner were both working the earlier shifts at the desks, but I think they went into town together after getting off. We saw Nate in the EDR and the three of us ate together.
            I have the day off tomorrow as well. My only commitment is the employee safety meeting at one o’clock. Rob said that it was up to me if I wanted to go to the meeting or not, but seeing as how it’ll basically be getting paid to sit around and listen to other people from the company talk about safety, it won’t be a big deal. I’m hoping that I can go back to the pool after it, too. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Don't Want To Miss A Thing

            I got up this morning early enough to go to breakfast with Cristina before she went in to work. It’s weird how empty the EDR seems at breakfast as opposed to other meals. They only serve breakfast until 8:30, so a lot of people that aren’t working early just sleep through it. Most employees have said that they’d prefer to be charged for every time they swipe their employee ID in the EDR, instead of automatically charged for three meals a day, but whatever. After breakfast I walked back through the lodge and to my room, where I slept a little longer, then sat out on the back porch and enjoyed the cool morning air until lunchtime.
            I just got back to my room after having lunch in the EDR with Jesse and Nate. Nate goes into work with me at three again today, as does David. Jesse has the day off. His department’s schedule is really weird. Sometimes he has three or four days off in a row, or even more. On the other hand, there are times where he’ll work seven days in a row, or more. It just depends on what conferences, weddings, or other events are going on in the lodge at the time.
            After today I’ll have Sunday and Monday off. August’s safety meeting is Monday at one, and I told Rob that I’d still go, even though I’m supposed to be off that day. It’s not a big deal; I’m basically getting paid to sit around, eat snacks, and listen to other people talk. Doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me. I’ll probably also go to the pool at least one of those days, maybe both. The pool closes in early September, so I want to use it as much as possible before that. I haven’t planned anything else to do on those days, but I’ll think of something. Hopefully I can go on another morning hike or something like that. I’m then off again on Wednesday and Thursday. I have another activity planned out for Thursday, but nothing yet for Wednesday. Maybe I’ll find a way to get up to Colter Bay and go kayaking again, or plan something else around Jackson Lake or the Snake River. I love being out on the water in this place. All of the lakes, rivers and streams are so beautiful and peaceful, and they’re some of the best spots to view wildlife, from moose to bears to bald eagles.
            We’re probably sold out again tonight, but Jen, David, Nate and I should be able to handle it. They’re some of my favorite people to work with too, so it should be a pretty easy shift. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Coworkers, Cool Places, and Crazy Weather

            Last night’s shift was actually pretty fun. It had a few busy, hectic times to it, but overall it was still an easy shift. A lot of it just consisted of joking around with Nate, David, and Jen, who are actually the same people that I’ll be working with tomorrow evening. It actually seemed to pass by pretty quickly since we were always either working with guests or entertaining each other.
            I got up this morning early and went to breakfast with Cristina and Nate before they went in for their morning shift. After that, instead of going on the employee hike that Shane had set up, I went and did some hiking of my own (don’t worry- I had my bear spray and stayed on the trail!). I hiked out to a beautiful area called Oxbow Bend. The trailhead for that one is right behind the corrals right here on the lodge’s property. Oxbow Bend is, I think, one of the most beautiful areas in the park. On calm days like today, the mountains reflect in the Snake River perfectly, making for a really amazing scene. The hike out to it is about two miles, and once I got there I just sat and enjoyed the view for a while. Then I continued hiking, looping back around a different way than I’d come, passing another beautiful spot called Christian Pond. The hike was a total of about five miles, and I arrived back at the lodge just in time for lunch.
            I’d been considering going to the pool after lunch, but it started to get really cloudy and dark not long after I left the EDR. I swear, the weather in this place really can turn on a dime. The wind also kicked up quite a bit, so I nixed the pool and came back to dorm to relax after that hike. It started to rain a little after Cristina got off work at three, and we both hung out in our room with the back door standing open. There’s an overhang outside our door, so the rain doesn’t come in the door if we leave it open. All that was let in was the great smell of the rain and the cozy sound of it coming down outside.
            By about 5:30 the rain had stopped and Cristina, Jesse and I headed to the EDR for dinner together. After eating we walked back through the lodge and stopped at the activities desk, where Tanner was working. We talked with him for a while, and I scheduled an activity for me to do with one of my days off this coming week (more on that to come).  My schedule this week is very open. I only work tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday. Sounds like a great time to get out into this park and have some fun.
            As I mentioned earlier, I work at three again tomorrow with David, Nate, and Jen. I’ll probably get up early for breakfast again. I like joining Cristina before she goes in, and I feel like I’m getting charged for three meals a day no matter what, so I might as well use all three as often as possible. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I'm Gonna Make This Place Your Home

            I just got back from having lunch at the EDR with a few of the lodge’s bellmen. They said it’s been pretty slow and easy so far. I start work at three today, along with David and Nate. We’re probably at full capacity again, or at least will be by the end of the night. Having last night off to hang out with Cristina, Tanner and Jesse was really nice; I haven’t seen any of them so far today. Cristina and Tanner are both at their desks right now, and I guess Jesse’s probably working too.
            It would be nice to have today off, like I was originally scheduled for, but at least I still have tomorrow. Shane, the employee recreation director, scheduled an employee hike tomorrow around a place called Hanging Canyon, not far from Jenny Lake. I think I may sign up for that one. It’s about a six mile hike and is in a really beautiful area.
            It kind of seems like the busy season is nearing its end. Rob gave most of the people at the desk at least three days off next week. I’m only scheduled to work Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I definitely want to make the most of those days off. I’ll probably do some more hiking and maybe plan a trip up to Yellowstone. I also want to go kayaking on Jackson Lake again soon; that was absolutely amazing.
            Looking at the date, I just realized that exactly three months ago was the day I moved into the employee dorms here. May 14: the day I met Tanner, Cristina, Elliot, and Jesse (in that order). Tanner was the first person I really met when I came here; he helped carry my bags from the car into my dorm room. At that time I figured he was a nice guy but I really didn’t expect for him to become one of my best friends here. I met Cristina not long after that, in our room, then Elliot in the EDR at dinner. Last but not least, I met Jesse out on our back porch later that evening. The next day I met Nate, my other coworkers, and my supervisors. In these three short months, this place has come to really feel like home. I know the area really well, have become friends with most of the other employees, and have just gotten to feel really comfortable and safe here. Now, with less than two months until the lodge closes, it’s beginning to feel like the end is near. Several friends that I made here have already left to go back to school, and a few are going to be leaving in the next week or so. Even those of us that are staying until the end are already talking a lot about what their plans are for the winter season. In October I’ll be happy to go back home to San Antonio, but I’ll also really miss this beautiful place and these awesome people. 
            For my last bit of news, I’ll say that this is my 100th post on this blog. After making a post every day straight for over two months, that doesn’t really surprise me. It’s still cool to see the number of posts go into triple digits, though. I’ll miss updating this blog when the season ends and my life returns to “normal”. This has been an awesome way to not only keep up with people back home, but to remember my awesome experiences just so I can look back on them. I’ve gone over and reread many of these posts, and it’s great to have this as a kind of journal. It’s interesting to see which posts are the longest, which ones have the most views, and which ones seem to stand out in other ways. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Life At The Desk

            Well, the last two shifts at work have been easy, though kind of slow. Yesterday I was working with David and Rebecca. Emily was the supervisor for the first portion of the shift, then Rob came in at around dinner time and stayed for the rest of it, while Emily went home. Thankfully we didn’t have any guest issues and by about 9:30 we only had seven more check-ins left, so the rest of the shift was very easy. Basically it was just all of us hanging out on our computers and joking with each other.
            Since it’d been so slow, we were all able to get off work at pretty much eleven o’clock exactly and head home. I got back to our room and immediately went to bed, since I had to be back at work at seven this morning. I’ve had only later shifts this week, so hearing my alarm go off at 5:45 this morning wasn’t particularly pleasant. I knew, though, that in terms of the actual amount of work we have to do, the morning shift is always easier, so it wouldn’t be a bad day.
            Cristina and Rebecca were both also working this morning, as was Rob. It was a really easy shift; check-outs are just so much simpler to do in our system that even if we have a lot of them, mornings are always so much easier. The only thing people don’t really like about the morning shift is the fact that we almost always take in cash on that shift, and pretty much never do that on the later shift. Doing cash drops at the end of the shift is just such a long, complicated process, and we have to go through the whole thing no matter how little cash we took in; I once had to do one because a guest gave me 83 cents.
            After the shift ended Cristina and I came back to our room and relaxed until nearly six, when we went to dinner with Tanner and Jesse. I normally would have tomorrow off, but since I switched with Rebecca I go to work at three. I’ll be working with Nate, David and Jen, then I have Friday off. When I checked today I saw that we have about 180 check-ins tomorrow, but it shouldn’t be a bad shift. I really like working with all of them; maybe I’ll quiz Nate and David on some more animal facts when it gets slow, like I did last time we were working together. Right now I don’t have any plans for Friday, but I’m sure I’ll get out and find something to do. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Night Of The Wolf

            Well, there’s not much news to report since my last post. Last night I went to the Whistle Pig for a little while to hang out with Elliot, Devin, John from security, and a few other people. It wasn’t very full in there, which was fine with me. We talked about how work was going for all of us, and if we had plans for the winter season. The job fair for Vail Resorts is coming up. I’m not sure exactly what day it will be, but within the next couple of weeks. I’ve heard it’ll be on one of the lodge’s conference rooms and will go on all day. I’m sure I’ll go at some point to just look around, even though I’m sure I’ll just go back home when this season’s over.
Cristina, Tanner, Jesse, and Nate just went out to go hiking around for the day, since they all have off. Sadie, who works in the Blue Heron upstairs in the lodge, went with them. She’s leaving very soon to go back to school. I just got back from having lunch in the EDR.I go into work at three again today, working with David and Rebecca, with Emily as the supervisor. It shouldn’t be a bad shift at all; I like working with all of them. Then I go into work at seven on Wednesday, working with Cristina and Rebecca again. I haven’t had to do the “flip flop shifts” in a couple of weeks, so I hope I’ll be able to leave right at eleven tonight to get as much sleep as possible. It shouldn’t be too bad though, since the morning shift is so easy. Maybe tomorrow after work I’ll go back to the pool to hang out; the water felt absolutely great yesterday!
Other news, that I surprisingly haven’t mentioned yet, is that on Sunday evening I saw my first wolf. After getting off work a little early, instead of walking straight back to my dorm I decided to walk out to the lodge’s back patio to enjoy the mountains for a few minutes, and I’m very glad I did. Looking out at the Teton Range and the willow flats in front of them, I saw a group of elk in one of the meadow clearings, grazing. It’s not at all unusual to see elk out there, especially in late evening, so I wasn’t surprised at that. Then, however, I saw two gray wolves in another clearing eating something that looked like a deer carcass. I’d heard that wolves were much more plentiful in Yellowstone than here in this park, so I could hardly believe it. These were definitely much bigger than coyotes, though; even from the distance, I could clearly tell that they were wolves. I’d heard wolves howling at night several times before here, so I knew that they were around somewhere, but I honestly didn’t expect to see them. It was a really cool experience.
Well, like I said, there’s not much other news to report for today, so I’ll just check back in after work tomorrow.