Thursday, June 28, 2007

Keeping Busy

Hey! This by far has been the busiest summer I have ever had. I work full-time (which here constitutes 48 hours a week) but I play even harder. This last week I had a shift from 5:45am-3pm after getting off work at 11pm the night before. But, as soon as I got off work I hiked one of the toughest trails in the park with my friends Chuck and Jacob, as well as Judith and Keith, who are both from Singapore. We went up Avalanche Peak, which is an intense 4-mile hike almost completely uphill and above the timberline. I was starting to not enjoy it after climbing straight uphill for so long, but it was more than worth it. The view from the top is breathtaking. We got there right at sunset and watched the colors change on the surrounding peaks in the fading light. It was a great way to spend the evening, and I certainly slept well that night.
For my weekend this week, Anke, Chuck, Jacob and I went to Cody. We had to grocery shop and get some more camping gear at Sierra Trading Post (I bought a sleeping bag, and a pack among other things) and decided to camp just outside the park on an offshoot of the Shoshone River. We had a great time in Cody and camping was great too. We stayed up late making smores and telling stories around our campfire. We packed up and went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center the next day. I was really impressed with it! I had gone there when I was a kid but couldn’t remember much. The exhibits range from natural history to American Indian artifacts to old firearms. Afterwards we came back to Lake and had a fun evening shooting pool and eating pizza at the Pub.
I have another crazy week of work coming up, but then Matt is coming for another visit for my days off. We are going to go camping for a few days and I am really looking forward to it.
Oh and here is a blurry pic of a grizzly that was right outside my dorm awhile ago:
Oh, and last night we had out first famous person come into the Dining Room and I happened to wait on him. Robert Wagner, the old TV and movie actor came in with 4 people including his wife. They were all dressed like crazy 70's throwbacks but were really nice and tipped me 25%. Crazy, huh?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Matt's Visit!

Sorry it took so long for me to upload a new blog...I was having some blogger issues. Now, they are all resolved!

Hey everyone! I just had some of the best days I have ever had in the Park. My boyfriend. Matt, came to visit for my days off this week. He got here Wednesday right when I got off work and stayed until Saturday afternoon when I had to go back for a dinner shift. We traveled all over inside Yellowstone and made a few excursions to neighboring towns too. One very cool thing is that Xanterra lets friends of employees rent dorm rooms for only two dollars a night, so Matt got a nice and cheap place to stay. Wednesday night we just chilled and had dinner at the Lodge and then sat on the porch and watched the sunset.
The next morning, we got up and hit the road. We went all the way to Livingston to go to a really sweet fly store called “Hatchfinders” and then came back and ate in Gardiner. Then we fished the Gibbon river for awhile, but had to quit because the weather was turning nasty and because we had dinner reservations at the Hotel. We went and had a fancy dinner where I work (which was weird being on the other end of the table) and sat on the porch of the Lodge again that night with my friends Chuck and Jacob.
Friday, we went to Norris geyser basin and hiked all over. While it would have been sweet if Steamboat went off while we were there, it was still amazing to see what I think is the best geyser basin in Yellowstone. After that, we actually went back to Gardiner for lunch but then got ice cream in Mammoth.

Then, (the best part of the weekend) we went fishing for an evening in one of the coolest places I have been in Yellowstone. We fished a part of Slough Creek below the trailhead with great scenery and tons of wildlife. We heard that it was high and unfishable, but decided to check it out anyways. It was still a little high, but was anything but unfishable. Matt and I both hooked into some nice fish. Matt caught 3 smaller rainbows and a cutthroat and I caught two nice cuts all on small dry flies. There was abundant wildlife and we watched a river otter catch and eat fish for almost a half hour. We saw signs of everything from elk to bobcats to coyotes and had a great time. By the time we got off the river and back to civilization, we barely managed to get food in Mammoth at10pm before coming back to Lake ready to crash for the night.
We saw some cool wildlife, including bighorn sheep (even a big ram), otters, elk in velvet and cows with little calves, and came across full coyote and bobcat skulls. Our evening of fishing was incredibly fun.
I had a hard time saying good-bye but can’t wait for him to come back!


Sorry I have been bad about blogging…I have been working crazy hors again this week. We were doing better and then 2 servers unexpectedly left and caused us to be understaffed again. But, this should b the last rough week. I have never worked this much or this hard in my life! However, I did take a night after work to get beers with Rick! I got to wait on him and his film crew, which was pretty cool.
On the other hand, my time off has been great. Anke and I went driving back from Artist Point and had a big wolf come within 20 yards or so. It didn’t mind us and caught some little animals in the brush. We also saw a great gray owl, a blue
heron and tons of buffalo. We drove all through Canyon and by the Virginia Cascades. It was a good day!
Also, I managed to play with my fishing stuff the other day. Me and Chuck and Jacob took an excursion to the Gibbon River. We didn’t have much time and stayed close to the road and the fishing wasn’t great. I was trying to show my friends how to fly-fish, and was less than stellar. I had a fish on an expensive emerger and then lost the fish, and then lost the emerger in a tree on my next cast. The story of my fishing career…
Also, I spent some time going around and taking pics by myself, especially at the Norris Geyser Basin. I think it has the coolest thermal features in the park. This one reminds me of a trout:
Also, I am loving all the international employees. My favorite one, Kimi from Kosovo, told me that my name is very close to the Albanian word for red apple. So now he calls me "Mola" all the time. He also taught me how to say "Hello, how are you?" in Albanian, which I think is pretty cool. Plus, I speak in French with one of our French bussers all the time. Its pretty fun!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

My 21st!

I was a little bummed when I left that I would have to spend my 21st first birthday away from my friends and family, and especially Becky. But, my new friends here made it a night to remember. We went to the employee pub here at Lake and it happened to also be an 80’s dance night. Anke was the only one with any colorful spandex, so Jacob wore normal clothes and Chuck and I went punk/goth. We got there about 10pm, ordered a pizza and had a good time at the dance until
midnight. It was an interesting setting, seeing the managers and supervisors there as well, all dressed up. Some of the older employees went all out. I enjoyed a Sprite until midnight, when it was officially my birthday. Then, they announced it was my birthday and the other employees bought my share of legal beers. They have no hard liquor in the pub (fortunately) but have many good local microbrews. So I got to ring in the 31st with Fat Tire, Moose Drool, and Bitch Creek. The best part was that Anke, Chuck and Jacob got me a cake and a little crown that says “21” on it. It was so much fun, and my friends made me feel like I was hanging out with my oldest friends rather than people I have known for just a few weeks.
I had just enough to drink to feel like I fulfilled my 21-ness, but not enough to be ridiculous. We all had a great time and I joined the ranks of those who got to celebrate their 21st at Yellowstone.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Time off

I am learning that days off in Yellowstone more than make up for the crazy hours I have to work. For my days off this last week, I hung out by the lake in the snow and watched some otters play. Then I slept in the next day, got caught up on postcards and phone calls and went for a hike that night on Elephant back Trail. It is about a 4-mile loop that has an amazing view of the Lake at the top. When we got to the top, we realized we were in the middle of a low cloud, but the view was still amazing. Here is me, Chuck, Anke and Jacob from the observation point at the top. After that, we all went to the pub, got pizza, and came home and played Cranium til the wee hours of the morning.
Then, after sleeping in until 11am the next day, I got up and went to the mud volcanoes by myself. I was astounded by the largely overweight tourists and wondered how they were climbing the same hills that left me out of breath. Also, I brought my camera bag and big camera with the telephoto lens. I notice when I actually look like I know what I’m doing, people get
out of my way. So now I just swagger around like a photographer and people quickly move out of my shots.
Anke and I spent a whole afternoon running after an extremely elusive grizzly that seemed to always be on the other side of the shore than we were. After running down to the Lodge, then back to the Hotel, then back to the Lodge and back to the Hotel waiting for it to come within sight, we got tired and went back just in time to hear that the stupid thing finally decided to wander across the meadow in front of the Lodge. But by then, as Anke put it, we were totally over that bear.
That evening, I did an oil painting from some pictures I took of a buffalo and went to bed early. I got to talk to Matt, who was camping in Saratoga.
It was a great couple of days and made me so happy to be here! Plus, I have been making some great friends. Last night, we celebrated my 21st birthday at the pub right when it turned midninght. It was actually an 80's themed dance night and was really fun. Wait'll you see the pictures in my next blog...

Friday, May 25, 2007

My parents!

My dad had a book signing at Old Faithful this last week, and I took the opportunity to be a VIP rather than a lowly peon for a couple days. I met up with them at the Inn and got to take a tour with my dad’s publicist and his family, as well as the law professor who inspired the “Zone of Death” plotline of my dad’s latest book. We got to go up into the Crow’s Nest and Bat’s Alley and look at the old rooms with no plumbing.
My mom and I then took a walk around the geyser basin (and wandered in the wrong direction and ended up two miles further then we intended to go).
To cap the night off, we all sat out on the deck and watched Old Faithful erupt and listen to Rick make fun of my dad. Those are some of the best times in my life, hanging out in Yellowstone with our family friends. After coming back here to work a dinner and breakfast shift, I went up to Gardiner with my parents to enjoy the same type of get-together with the Oligs. The weather wasn't great, however, and we were forced inside by 40mph winds and some rain. After listening to the premier of the newest “Joe Sippet” novel (check out for details) we headed back to the Hoeninghausens’ and I came back to Lake the next day. It was a great time.However, things at Lake aren’t so sunny. We are getting scheduled back-to-back 14 hour shifts and I have a solid 3 days with no more than 4 hours between shifts. The problem is that we are under-staffed, but people are getting so frustrated with the extreme scheduling that they are quitting right and left to leave us with even less people. Hopefully, we get more people soon or it could get ugly. All of us are looking forward to the "foreigners" getting here to take over some of the hours!
When I got bummed though, I took Rick's advice and sat out by the lake for awhile and suddenly felt much better about the world.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Work, work, work...

I have started work! I did fine on my first night and morning. I had a few difficulties with being double and triple sat (that’s getting one or more tables sat in my section for you non-restaurant folks) because our hosts have never done this before and seem to constantly be getting me confused with the other red-haired waitress here. But, when I wasn’t scrambling, I did fine and didn’t make any big mistakes. Also, I made over $100 in tips on a relatively slow night. The only thing that is a shame is that we are under-staffed and I am currently working the night shift until about midnight and have to be up at 5am the next morning for breakfast. I can’t say I enjoy this whole “scheduling your employees to only get 4 hours of sleep” thing.
But, as I have been reminded by Matt (see, I mentioned you!) and my mom, that is the nature of the beast. I have the job I wanted and am only working seasonally, so I better work my little butt off. I and the other lake servers stand to make thousands over the summer.
I credit quite a bit of the first night success to a practice we call “shakedown” in which we practice waiting on other employees for practice the day before the Hotel opens. I had a table of Jamaican employees that all ordered the buffalo prime rib and were angry when I brought them the cut of meat they ordered rather than actual ribs. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at them picking at their first-class steaks and muttering. The best part of this, however, is that when we aren’t serving, we get to be sat and waited on. And still better is that we can order whatever we want on the menu and eat it for free! I got to have elk medallions and lobster for free! That was a good night.
So the work part still needs a few kinks to be worked out, but other than that, the ball is rolling on my crazy summer. Also, I just got to spend a few great days with my parents while my dad was signing books at Old Faithful. More on that to come!
Oh, and it is snowing here. Welcome to Wyoming.