Monday, December 15, 2008

The Nomad’s

Vol. XV Fall 2008 Mojave Desert

This year included a work stint at Yellowstone National Park, much like the one I did in Glacier in 2007. On May 1, having dodged winds in Nevada and snow storms in Idaho, I reported to Xanterra Transportation Department in Gardiner, Montana.

I drove a White Motor Company 706 Touring Bus, providing interpretive narration. Yellowstone’s roads are not as narrow as the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier, but are equally beautiful, steep, and winding. Schedules at Yellowstone allowed regular days off to enjoy the park. Working there was a positive experience. I’m going back for the 2009 season.

My regular routes included full day tours over Beartooth Pass and to Grand Teton National Park, 8 miles south of Yellowstone. Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet is well above tree line. The Beartooth tour took me over Dunraven Pass and through the Lamar Valley which continues to be my favorite area of the park. On the Grand Teton National Park, I emphasized the similarities and differences of the two parks.

Heavy snows with rapid warming in the Yellowstone region brought on the wildflowers. I understand it was one of the best shows in years. About the time I learned to identify the flowers, a whole new batch erupted. Speaking of eruptions, I saw Old Faithful and numerous other geysers erupt. I watched bubbling mud pots and fumeroles, saw deep blue hot springs, and smelled the sulphurous air. It is illegal and too dangerous to soak in the park’s hot springs, but there are places where hot water pours into cool creeks and soaking is permitted. This hot springs "junkie" didn’t miss her chance. That same heavy snow meant full rivers and waterfalls.

I saw plenty of wildlife as the Yellowstone ecosystem is a tremendous habitat. A special treat was watching a newborn pronghorn take its first wobbly steps and nurse. Since Yellowstone is still an active volcano, I began learning geology related to the hot spot below the surface.

My cousins Bonnie and Glende arrived in a snowstorm which dumped 7 inches of fresh snow on June 12. Other visitors included Ajo and Denali, Janice and Gabby, Charlie and Arlene, Lynn and Mark. I met Rving friends of friends, who worked there. I visited Tom and Bonnie Murphy of Livingston, MT. I explored and hiked, but there but there is much to see.

Last winter was spent in the southwest. In the Spring, visits were to friends and family in California. The names are too numerous to list, but you know if we visited. And those that were missed, well, we will keep in touch and hope for future face to face encounters.

I left Yellowstone on Sept. 25th, headed to Coarsegold, CA, near from Yosemite, for the wedding of RV friends, Mary and Elaine. Partners for 29 years, they celebrated their union with almost 200 friends and family members. After the wedding, my friend, Alice (co-editor of RV Traveling Tales) and I visited Yosemite. On November 3, with like-minded friends, I watched election returns and celebrated the new direction. The nation and the world face major problems and it is not going to be easy.

Next stop is Ajo, AZ for solstice, Christmas, and New Year’s. As in past years, I will help wrap and distribute gifts through the "Little Angels" program. I’ve got a car full of boxes and gifts I’ve picked up for this event.

The big news is a two month trip to Spain and Morocco. I leave January 18. But that is news for next year’s letter. A blog is set up for those who want to follow my travels. I’ll have limited time at internet cafes, but will post updates. When I return home I’ll organize a photo show and more impressions of the region and my experiences.