Friday, July 20, 2012

Just a "Normal" Day...

We DO Have to Work - Sometime...
To the rest of the world this is Friday.  For us it is Monday.

We've had a schedule revamp at the store.  Originally we were working five days per week:  Thursday through Monday.  Tuesday and Wednesday were our days off.

I've stated before that we are a very busy store.  That is true, but it is somewhat sporadic in guest activity.  As a result, there are periods of "not busy".  The parent company determined a need to cut labor costs.  That resulted in people, including us, being sent home early or sometimes upon arrival.

A week ago the supervisors were looking for ways to make the impact more predictable and less harmful economically for employees.  They asked if we were interested in scheduling more days off.

"Are you kidding?   More time off in Yellowstone?"

"Gee, lemme think about it."

Our answer jumped our of our mouths as soon as the question was asked.

"Of course we'll take more time off!!!!"

We went home and checked a few things.  If we work three days per week we will cover all our living expenses.  We won't have much extra, but that is OK.  We'll cover our expenses and not touch our retirement for the full time we are here.

We offered to work three days and have four off.  We figured that was asking too much.

Dennis, our store manager replied with a resounding "Yes! - and thanks for being willing to work less so others who wanted, or needed, more hours could have them!"

Did we really hear what we thought we heard?  The boss was thanking us for working less?

This Yellowstone place is magical.  Some refer to it as "Colter's Hell."  For us it is "Herber's Heaven."

That is why today was our Monday.

RVers Have Domestic Responsibilities Too...
Other than our hike on Tuesday, we have been caught up with domestic things the rest of our days off.

Living in an RV is similar to living in a house except every time you move your RV you are subjecting your house to a strong earthquake.  Things loosen up, break and generally deteriorate.   There is always something needing attention.  I am lucky in being able to fix almost anything that needs fixin'.

Right now it is our truck camper.  We are getting water inside during rain events.  I determined that the rim around the perimeter of the roof is leaking.  I spent the last few days working on that.  I have it almost all fixed.  A little more effort and it will be as waterproof as the Titanic...

After that, our hydraulic levelers on the motor home need work.  The electric motor is having problems.  I have that almost fixed too.  I would have been finished but the leaky truck camper took precedence.

Robin spends a lot of time cleaning, washing clothes (yup, we have a clothes washer and dryer - just like non-movable homes!), cooking and all the normal Domestic Goddess things in a household.

Even tho we are in an RV and live in different places, our life is a lot like everyone else's.

Time For Smelling the Coffee...
We do try to set aside time every day to enjoy a latte:


I have secret desire to be a barista!

Other than work and normal, boring domestic things, this was still a great day for "Chasin' Our Dreams!"

The Tetons are Grand!

Hiking Through The Tetons...
This past Tuesday we got together with Charley and Karen for an 8 mile jaunt around Jenny Lake which lies at the base of the Grand Teton mountains.

It was incredible.

It kicked our butts.

The first half was along the eastern shore.  It is the most easily accessed portion.  So, it was the smoothest and busiest.  We met many other hikers.

The views of the mountains on the opposite side of the lake were awesome.  They were a preview of what was coming.




So we hiked:


And hiked:


And hiked some more.  We were getting closer to the mountains:


Finally!!!  We were in the foothills of the Grand Tetons!


The mountains are immense.   Pictures do not convey how big they are.


While looking at them I got the strange feeling that I was looking at something that was not truly there.  It was as if I was looking at a gigantic picture.  They were so incredible it seemed they were not real.

I am NOT  a photographer so here is a link to some fabulous pictures of the area.

The day was perfect.  We had temps in the 70s.  No wind, just a gentle breeze.  Some clouds to keep the sun at bay and great company.

After our majestic day, we stopped at Leeks Pizzeria on Lake Jackson.  The perfect ending to a perfect outing.

Days like this are exactly what we envision when we pursue adventures while "Chasin' Our Dreams!"

Yellowstone - WOW!

There is only one word I can think of when talking about Yellowstone - "Wow!"

The longer we are here the more spectacular we realize it is.  No wonder it is one of the most amazing and diverse places on the planet.  Words to not do it justice.   Literally hundreds of books and countless pictures and paintings have attempted to capture the splendor

Nope, ain't going to happen.

No matter how hard a person tries to convey the majesty and wonder, they can't.  One must see it for real.

A Little Background...
We are here due to the influence of our friends, Charley and Karen.  We became friends at Lonestar RV park in Austin.  They are full-time RVers as are we.  They heard about summer opportunities at Yellowstone with the retail concessionaire Delaware North and applied.  They were accepted and this is their third summer.

They regaled us with stories of the park, the work and the people visiting and living here for the summer.

We had to give it a try.

Last summer we came up and visited Charley and Karen.  They showed us around and introduced us to their manager, Dennis.  We buttered up Dennis and I guess it worked.  Our applications were accepted and now we are here working at the Grant Village General Store, located at West Thumb on Yellowstone Lake.


The work is HARD.  I work in the grocery and Robin is in apparel.   Now realize that I spent pretty well my entire career sitting behind the wheel of a bus or truck or at a desk in a cubicle.  Yup, I was on my butt.  I did NOT do manual labor - nothing requiring me to be on my feet all day long.

Robin was an operating room nurse for 20 years.  Even SHE says it is hard.  Sheesh!

But, it is worth every second.  When we are off we have time to explore the park.

As for work, the grocery is for all intents and purposes, a full blown convenience store.  A very busy convenience store.  Our customer count is certainly in the hundreds each day.  The park gets a bit over 3 million visitors each year.

The facilities are spread throughout the park but this is not a metropolis.  It really is wilderness.   Plus, there is a 420 site campground about 1/2 mile from the store.

We are B-U-S-Y!!

And loving it!!!!

I have never done retail before.  This is all new.  The experience has been so good I am ready to move to India and open an American Owned Convenience Store...

I get a kick out of the customers.  We have people from all over the world.  Lots of Europeans, Asians, South Americans etc.  All cultures are represented.  It has been interesting to observe how foreigners function.  It is obvious that Americans are accustomed to a lot more personal space than other nationalities.  Because we are not so densely populated (OK -OK - take NYC and the other biggie cities out of the discussion) we have the luxury of more space.  Foreigners don't realize they are 'invading' our space.

In this case 'invading' is not a negative.  I just had to get used to the idea that we are all different except for one thing - we all are blown away by Yellowstone.

It Really Is A Wilderness...
Given the conveniences we have locally: three eating facilities, a post office, the General store, a full service gas station with mechanic and an actual convenience store, a large laundromat plus a big Park Service information center, we are essentially a small town.  It is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are in the middle of one of the most unique wildernesses in the world.   There are BIG critters here who will eat you if you mess up.

Shortly before arriving a woman in our employee's RV section was doing something with her car.  All the doors were open and she was pre-occupied when she heard some rustling outside.  She looked over and this guy was right next to her car!!!!!


Yup - that's a grizz.  Looks pretty cuddly doesn't he?  Especially while he is moseyin' around eating dandelions.  Sounds like something in a fairy tale.  Well take a look at this:


Uh Huh - Those are BIG teeth and claws.  Eating dandelions???   I guess he was full from the six deer and three mooses (meese?) he had for breakfast.

When our friend realized he was there she "vewy-vewy swowy" climbed in her car, closed the doors - and started taking pics.

The Park Service actually delays opening our local public campground because there is so much bear activity due to the nearby trout spawn in the Spring.

It was initially a bit daunting to have to take a few moments every time we exited the motorhome to look around to make sure we were not on the menu.  We always carry bear spray.

Now the trout spawn is mostly over.  There are lots of people milling about.  The bears have left for now, but you never know if one is passing through...

Building Up Our Strength...
We have been gradually building our hiking and exploring stamina.  We are at 8000 feet altitude.  We are not used to this.  When we lived in Wyoming prior to moving to Austin, we lived at 8000 feet.  We were very used to the altitude (I'm trying to ignore the additional tidbit of us having been 20 years younger then) so hiking and running around was no problem.

Austin is 700 feet above sea level.  Hmmm.  7300 feet lower.  Things are a bit different now.  BUT, we are catching up.

Other workers here say it takes about a month to really get going.  I believe it.  Our first couple days were uncomfortable at best.  We were worn out and sore after work.  Just now we are beginning to feel more like getting out and hiking after work.

Unimaginable Sights...
We've done a few car drives exploring the area.  Each time we see incredible things.

A buffalo heard held up traffic for a while:




Great mountain views across Yellowstone Lake:


The "Dragon's Mouth" fumarole:


Thermal area of the Artist's Paint Pots:


We see this stuff every time we leave the house.  Amazing....

Numerous times per day we look at each other and thank the Lord for our opportunity to spend an extended time in this splendid place.

Here, it is not hard at all for us to find ways to keep "Chasin' Our Dreams"