I chose Yellowstone among several job offers.
Happily, I have some experience in culinary arts, am comfortable in a kitchen, and everybody has to eat sometime.
My Cool Works.Com has interactive features, including chat, forums and discussions to help you connect with others who are living the seasonal dream.
You can watch in real time , via the Old Faithful Web Cam / Mammoth Hot Springs/ and another Mammoth Hot Springs Webcam
Many thanks to David "Rainmaker" Mauldin, for his encouragement and example to enjoy life fully, one day at a time.
The road trip begins early Friday morning, maps and driving directions occupying the passengers seat. The Geo is loaded with backpacking gear, wetsuit, bike helmet, laptop, and cameras. Some clothes, chef jackets, surprises for my family, and sewing machine rounds out the packing list.
Five hundred miles daily seems to be my comfort level. I spent the first night in Mt. Vernon, IL, the second in Sioux City, Iowa, and the third in Billings, Montana. Every motel has wifi, an essential part of enjoying this journey. I chat with Rainmaker each night, then life is complete.
Its been fun, but I can't wait to check in and see the kitchen where I will learn new skills, meet new friends, and have a memorable summer. I'm looking forward to meeting my room mate, seeing my dorm room, and filming my first bison.
April 27th I arrived in Gardiner, Montana, northern gateway and check-in point for all seasonal Xanterra employees. Immediately I got my photo ops.
I had planned to camp, but decided to splurge one more night on a motel, wifi and continental breakfast included.
By 7:00 a.m I was in the parking lot of Xanterra, having driven through snow, and grabbed my paperwork and entered the building. There was coffee or tea, long tables set up for various personel who would take our information in stages. Photos were taken, and we were sent down for uniforms. In spite of the mounting snow, I managed to find my way to Mammoth Hot Springs, where I ate lunch, got online, and did orientation for 1 hour.
Xanterra van took the employees that flew in, while I followed in my loaded Geo, to Lake Hotel. We were assigned dorm rooms, and so far I still do not have a room mate.
April 29 -30 th
Slept well last night, had training for 6 hours, including safe serve, knife skills and small equipment. On Thusday, I make dessert, and "shadowed " the lunch cook. We've had a lot more snow, it's been cold, and the food's been good. There's always hot food, salad bar, and soup. Beverages are always available, and there is dessert.
Its always a little disorienting at a new place with new people, but everyone is so kind and friendly, going on walks together near a frozen lake, chatting about hiking and backpacking, it has been loads of fun.
Today I spent some time researching the special procedures for Adjusting for Altitudes. The Wyoming University website has not only the how-to, but the how-come this is necessary. Having a laptop of my own is so useful while working a seasonal job. Not only can I connect via e-mail and chat rooms, pay bills and check weather, but I can research questions during off time.
Yesterday afternoon while making supper the power flickered, then went out completely at 1:30. The only heat source for cooking is gas stove top at this point, and we had just received a massive food shipment. We continued prepping for a 5:00 supper just in case the power returned. When 3:00 rolled around, emergency menu was put in place, and two soups, hot coco, hot water for tea and various sandwhiches, condiments and salads were prepared. We kept all the coolers and freezers shut (so many they are numbered) as much as possible as we went into emergency mode. Suddenly at 4:45 the power returned and our chef instructed us to fire up the oven, cook the pizzas already prepped for supper, the barbeque chicken, squash medley, and baked beans. It was an adrenilin rush and all went smoothly.
Everyone here is a team player and I love going to work. I used the humungous tilt skillet for the first time and it will indeed become my dear friend.
It continues to snow daily, but in the afternoons it melts off although the snowbanks remain. This Saturday the remaining staff will arrive, about 200 they tell me, so that we can get up and running by the grand opening on the 15th.
This is truely an adventure. Our name tags tell the state we are from, and I get many people asking about Georgia.
I've been collecting some photos and footage and finally combined them for a short film on some sights here as we prepare for opening of the Hotel. Its been quite an experience meeting new people, learning the systems, enjoying the changing weather, anticipating summer.
The tell me there are two seasons, winter and July. The Lake is a marvelous place but way colder than I had expected. Thankfully, I have layers.
Today is Saturday, my day off. So much has happened this past week, its hard to discribe it. On Tuesday, around 3:15 we lost power due to the tremendous wind storm blowing through the mountains. We had most of the meal prepared, and with the help of some sternos, a gas stovetop and grill, and wonderful teamwork, a hot meal was still served to over 200 employees on site. Hoping the power would be restored, everyone stayed on site.
Wednesday morning, the power was still out, projections for its resumption varied from hours to days. I had the day off, so walked to Fishing Bridge General Store, and a little beyond, enjoying a wonderful 6 mile round trip hike, albiet on blacktop. The scenery and air is crisp and breathtaking. Several times I thanked the trailgods for bringing me here.
When I returned for lunch, around 1p.m. I was notified we were evacuating to Grant Village by bus. Because there was still no power, temps dropping dramatically, and saftey issues at hand, we would all spend the night in the luxury hotel there, as yet not open to the public. All this was accomplished flawlessly.
Thursday morning we returned by bus, with hopes of power, and enjoyed an onsite general meeting whereby the extent of the situation was explained. I can not emphasize how upbeat, friendly, approachable, and marvelous the whole staff is, including the directors, head co-ordinators, and managers.
Because the power was still not on, plans were made to spend another night at Grant. This historical evacuation of the oldest Hotel in the oldest National Park on earth was solely due to an act of god, and I realized once again what a small element the human population is. We ate all our meals at Lake EDR, and again, in snow and sleet, rode the busses back to Grant where we received the keys to our rooms from the previous night.
Friday a.m. we ate at Grant, were taken back to Lake, and power had been restored by 4 a.m. The gourgeous hotel is just one day late in opening for the season, and due to the professionalism of the entire management and staff, we are back on schedule.
I did laundry today, like everyone else, catching up on stuff that needs electricity. I love my job, am learning alot, and look forward to seeing the guests arrive.
Its been wonderful, busy, cold, warm, and the ice on the lake has finally fallen. This means we can sign out rowboats, or rent motor boats to view the lake. The bear closures are still in effect, so local hiking near the lake is off limits. The pub at the Lake Logde is open, and we can go down there for some brew between 8 and 2. Its a really friendly atmosphere, and last night they were jamming on the green in front of the dorms. Very cool.
They tell me the whole park was booked over Memorial Weekend...good news for us seasonal employees and the economy in general. Its really easy to loose track of the state of the union....no papers, limited internet connections, and no cell service. I am really loving it.
HI to all my friends and family. Little by little every store and gas station is put into service, and to the untrained, or uninitiated, one would think it never shut down for the incredible winter the full timers report.
Enjoying the bison, elk, and deer that live up here at Lake. The migration of Bison occurs next month, or September, and I am sure to have a treat withnessing that.
I write this from memory, because during much of the summer our internet was sketchy at best. Once staff started leaving, bandwidth increased, and we were happy to have basic email once again.
The fires that started south of here, and continued to envelop our area with smoke left us in a state of uncertainty. Weather was key, they told me, everyone hoping for snow or rain, to help these firefighters. They had hoses behind and on top the roofs of the cabins and dorms. Brush and downed limbs were being ground up to lessen the danger to property. The firefighters have been fed in the park. Finally, it snowed, and their numbers which were over 100, were reduced to a crew half that size. All talk of evacuation ceased, although most who had cars were packed and ready.
We finished deep cleaning at Lake Lodge, and the season ended for me on October 2nd. I met a lot of people from around the world, made a lot of friends, and had a very interesting summer. I was promoted to Lake Lodge EDR manager beginning of June, and was able to take managerial classes. These were very well done, and helpful in fullfilling my goals for a fun and educational summer.
After leaving the park, I drove to visit my family in Idaho. It was a very beautiful drive. We enjoy good times, catching up on things, picking a bumper crop of apples, and visiting friends.
Now back home, reflecting on the experience, it really feels like a thru hike. Seems like I was gone forever, like everything changed, yet so few town folks even know I was gone. And this new HD tv stuff! Updating websites, cooking for two, hiking in the gorgeous Georgia Mountains, seems like a different world.
Thanks to everyone who stayed in touch, supported my journey, and read this page.
Next adventure: learn to scuba in the Carribean with my best friend, and life partner, Rainmaker!