First, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to keep this studio apartment year round whether I went back to work in a park or not. It’s very cheap and in a good location and exactly what I’ll need when I’m trying to live off Social Security. In the more immediate future, it gives me a home to come back to any time I’ve had enough of whatever situation I might get into if I’m working in a park--that would have come in handy last year. Or if I'm working here, I can easily meet my expenses working much less than full time.
I decided that safety net gave me a perfect option for exploring working in different parks. I started researching and came up against the same issues I’d forgotten from when I originally considered the idea years ago.
As much as I’d love to spend months in Yosemite, I don’t want to live in a hantavirus tent as new employees do. Another favorite, Glacier . . . well, I couldn’t get anyone at a couple different email addresses to even confirm that they’d received my application, pretty much confirming the advice of a friend at Yellowstone who told me to not even apply for the first year or two that the new company is running the concessions because it will be too screwed up.
I found videos online about employee life at Crater Lake and Bryce—the dorms looked fine, but they’re much smaller crews with a lot fewer choices in the employee dining room. Maybe worth a try at some point, but it looked like returning to Yellowstone would be the best choice for this year.
I signed a year lease and ordered some furniture, and had a heart-pumping experience getting my new desk up the winding stairs. But when I sit at it to type instead of on the floor, I can see a cat in the window of the house next door which is a plus.
In a week or two I hope to hear about a part time job I think I have a good chance to get since I used to do it for them as a volunteer. With that in mind, and thinking about a summer by the Lake, it was becoming clear to me that it would take a perfect situation to make me go back to Yellowstone this year.
A couple options were mentioned, one for the job I wanted but for a much shorter period than I wanted, another for a job which would have been the highest I’ve had in the park but not in a location I wanted. I would have taken the first one except that I felt there was a good chance I’d later cancel it depending on circumstances here, and I was concerned that might block me out of the park in the future.
There are already people in Yellowstone who’d prefer I not return, but fortunately there are also people there who know me much better who’d be happy to see me back. All things considered, I opted to let things play out here for a while, and unless something unforeseen happens, I won’t be working in a park this summer.
If things go well here, I might never go back to park life. If nothing great happens here, I’d consider returning as soon as next winter—I’d still love to spend a winter at Old Faithful. Either way, I think a long time away is a good thing. During the last two years in Yellowstone I let myself get caught up in bullshit which made me lose sight of why I was there, and I want to leave that and all the people involved behind me, and appreciate the park again.
After finishing work on my journals from the Yellowstone years, I put together a collection of words and photos from my blogs since that is where I’ve done most of my writing since 2007. It was actually a better way to relive those years of hikes and all the pre-park changes in my life, and I wound up with a 1000 page document.
It’s been a very cold winter even by Duluth standards, the 8th coldest December and 18th coldest January, almost always well below the average daily temperature. Double digits above zero were rare until the past week when I started getting back out for walks to town along the Lake. February usually begins the warm up.
I’ve begun making enthusiastic notes about events and classes and hikes scheduled during the brief above freezing summer season. Not too excited about the names listed so far for the summer’s main music festival, but Robert Randolph gives one day some potential depending on who gets added. I’m looking forward to sailing on the Lake.
There’s a towering pile of library and free books for review from Amazon. Another freebie I received was a Kamagon ball, a fun item which you put water in to reach different weights and use in various exercises. I thought it might be handy to stick in a duffel bag if I work in a park.
I’ve made a very rough sketch for my autobobography--my life through eight Dylan songs (Watching the River Flow, Lay Lady Lay, Idiot Wind, Things Have Changed, etc.), which would be a very long and quite possibly last post (I know, you’ve heard it before—but I’ve got nothing left to say at this point) unless I go back to work in a park in which case I’d revive greentangle for photos/hikes. Otherwise, those two last last looks I posted in October really might be.