So Toni reminded me that it has been a while since we have posted an update. It is pretty hard to believe, but we have been in Yellowstone National Park for close to a month already. This is our first time workcamping since we hit the road back in September of 2014. Our commitment with the Yellowstone General Store has us each working forty hours per week quite the change from what we have become used to. Our work days are actually pretty long,
as they have us on what they call split shifts. This means we work half or daily shift, then have a two and a half hour “lunch” break, before heading back to work the second half of our shift. We also opted to use the employee meal plan (no cooking for Toni for three months!!) which provides us three meals a day, even sack lunches for our days off as we explore the park. Our meals are also at the general store as well. So basically, on work days we are committed for close to twelve hours of the day. As an added bonus, we switch shifts each week between morning and evening. Morning weeks we arrive at the store at 6:45am for breakfast and then our first shift. After the lunch break we are back at the store to work until 5:30pm and then grab dinner, putting us home around 6:15pm or so.
On the weeks we are on evening shift, we go in for lunch at 11:30am and then our first shift. Then after lunch break we return to the store for dinner at 5:00pm and work our shift until 9:30pm. The tough transition is from evening shift week when we arrive home about 9:45pm, then have to be back the next day at 6:45am.
We are off two days per week, then the real reason to be here for the summer begins! Over the years we have visited Yellowstone a few times, but always just for whirl wind quick visits. Our plan with working here this summer, aside from saving a few bucks, is to really explore the nations first national park. The plan is to go beyond just the quick tourist visit and get a chance to see the back country and experience the changes over the
summer. Having an extremely inexpensive campsite in an amazing location while even earning a paycheck is the perfect way to make it happen. The employee rv park here at Fishing Bridge area is amazing. The sites are big and spread out similar to what we are used to in state parks. We have full hooks, wait let me rephrase that, we have MORE than full hookups. This is the first park we have ever stayed in where we actually have propane service right at our site! There is a propane meter at each site, and via my extenda-stay kit on the RV, a propane hose is connected right to the rv! Pretty freakn’ cool. The normal tourist rv parks are packed in like sardines into tight little rows, the kind where you can pass the Gray Poupon from one window to another. The RV camping is a great perk of the job.
So on our two days off we plan to explore as much of the park as possible. In that spirit, we signed up for an employee program they call the 100 Mile Club. Basic idea is to track all the hiking you do formally, and if you make 100+ miles you get some rewards like t-shirts and pins and such. Seems like a great deal, hiking was already our plan. As of this, our third weekend off, our total miles is already at 26! Should not be an issue to make 100+ it seems. Also, we are participating in another program they call Discover Yellowstone. This is another employee program that encourages getting out to explore the park in return for more little rewards like store credit and pins. It consists of four levels, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each level requires visits to other general stores, park visitor centers and attending ranger talks around the park. After this weekend, Toni and I will have completed the Gold level already. This program really helps to get us out and talking to other seasonal employees around the park and really getting to know the different areas of the park.
I also celebrated a birthday last week. We had a great day that started out with a hike along the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone with lunch out on a boulder hanging over the edge with a view of the rapids of the Yellowstone River at the bottom of the canyon. Followed by exploring the geyser basin around Old Faithful, then enjoying a beer at the mezzanine bar at the Old Faithful Inn including complete with an Old Faithful eruption. The evening ended with a great white table cloths type dinner at the Yellowstone Lake Hotel overlooking the Yellowstone Lake. I would say it was one of the most amazing birthdays I have had in quite some time, I mean how can you beat spending a day exploring such an awesome place with your best friend?
Of course there is wildlife everywhere around here as well. The only thing we have not seen as of today is a bear of any kind. We get reports from visitors everyday in the store about all the bears they see, guess we just have not been that lucky yet. Honestly, I think some of them are full of boloney and just like to say they see bears. The hike Toni and I did today, Garnet Hill, is a nearly nine mile trail into the back country of the Roosevelt area (one of the most heavily bear populated areas of the park) and did not see a bear. We did see bear sign several times and were obviously in bear country, but no bear. Do not get me wrong, I have NO desire to see a bear, Grizzly or Black,
while we are out hiking. Our standard practice includes making plenty of noise and talking while we hike, and there is obviously a can of bear spray on my hip. But, hiking in the back country of bear habitat, I would not be surprised to see a bear off in the distance on occasion. But, thankfully we have been bear free thus far. Amazingly though, everyone else seems to see the bears, complete with their cubs just hanging around along the roads. Toni and I would love to get some great bear photos, preferably from the Jeep, at some point. We head out on some early morning and evenings to some of the popular areas in hopes to catch a view of some, but no luck yet. With a couple more months, I would say our chances are pretty good. While no bear yet, we have seen quite many others. The list includes foxes, marmuts, elk, deer, antelope, mini-bears of all types (squires, mice, prairie dogs and such) and of course bison…
Bison, they are a whole other story. They are everywhere to say the least. There is one big male that resides pretty much in our campground. Never know where he may be. The other day I was walking CeCe and came around the corner and there he was twenty five feet from me….scared the crap out of me. Fortunately, CeCe was too busy tracking a squirrel and I was able to yank her back the other way and backtrack before she caught a glimpse of him. Could have been very interesting if she howled at him while we were that close! While hiking, bison have been a PITA more than once. You are minding your own business enjoying a hike and there they are, may be one or may ten, right in the trail. Leaves you either standing around waiting for them to move on or bushwhacking around them. Driving down the roads people will stop and pull off the road and pull out binoculars or scopes to check out a bison way off in the distance. Heck, just get on the trails and you can see then right up close! Yellowstone says the safe distance is twenty five yards, I personally like to give them even more space. Toni and I have seen several times just how fast these guys can move, up to 30mph for short bursts! I can tell you it is pretty impressive, if not scary, seeing them go from just standing and grazing to sprinting, it looks like it is breaking the laws of physics. I for one have no desire to be in the path of a 2000lbs animal in a 30mph sprint. They really just look like lazy cow-like animals, but they are capable of being pretty aggressive if provoked.
Bottom line, working the forty hours per week does get a little long without a doubt. Especially when you work along thinking wow, this is like being back at a high school summer job! But, the perks of actually being paid to spend the summer in Yellowstone pretty much offset those feelings. After our weekend exploring, going back to work for the week does not seem so bad. Plus, it is pretty fun to interact with all the visitors. They can be pretty funny and most are in a great mood and having a great time. Actually we are being paid to just help everyone have a good time, I think we can deal with that for a couple more months. I will get an update out in the next few weeks, but for now it is our Saturday night and we are heading over to the employee pub to have some ice cold brews…..just one more perk!!This entry was posted in Blog and tagged fulltime, gorving, kuhl, kuhlodyssey, livingthedream, nomadlife, rvblog, rvlife, seneca, xscapers, Yellowstone by Kurt Kuhl and comments are open.