Let me start off by saying .... Wow, what a fun summer that was! Now I feel not only "Older and Bolder" but also a bit wiser regarding seasonal employment in general, and Yellowstone in particular. I hope in this blog I can express at least some of that wisdom for the benefit of the reader.
Let's take it from the top ... trip preparation ...
* Definitely plan to bring a car. Yellowstone is just too big a place to attempt to hitchhike everywhere ya want to go. Also, other folks usually aren't going where you want to go, and if they are it's on the wrong day or at the wrong time. Take a car.
* You can pack sheets, pillow and blanket if ya want, but they will be provided if ya don't. If I did it again I would let Delaware North loan me the bedding stuff and save the space in my truck.
* Forget the heavy parka. Dress in light weight layers. A light weight fleece jacket works great over a flannel shirt or denim, which is over a T-shirt. If it warms up during the day, you simply start peeling off layers. As the sun goes down ya start putting the layers back on.
* Consider items to make your dorm room really livable ... such as a small fridge, a lamp, a folding table to use as a nightstand, and some extension cords/power strips (notice the "s")
* Little or No TV and very slow Internet...bring good books to read. I never really read books until this summer. I finished reading 3 and I am still working on a 4th.
When you get there ...
* If you are a fisherman....plan to hit the lakes and streams EARLY in the season. The Lake trout only come near the shore the first couple of weeks after the Lakes thaw in the spring. After that they retreat to deep water. As for the rivers....do your fly fishing early because about 10 zillion fly fishermen start showing up by mid-July and don't seem to leave until October! The fish get extremely smart after being caught and released a dozen times (a piece!!). By September they are nearly uncatchable.
* get out and see the park. If it is nice outside then do not sit on your duff in the dorm reading a mushy romance novel! If ya just got to read, then first hike to the top of a mountain, or to the shore of a back country lake, and do your reading there. The roads in Yellowstone expose you to maybe 2% of the park....you have to hike to see the other 98%. Do it.
* Plan to go to ALL of the summer plays at the Playmill Theatre in West Yellowstone. The college kids who put on these shows are bursting with talent, and I promise you will have a fantastic time. Think Nike...just do it!
* Be patient before you start planning road trips to Cody and West Yellowstone. You will likely eventually be given a free pass to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, and/or the IMAX in West Yellowstone. Wait for these freebies before planning your trips out of the park.
* Go see the Grand Tetons. Shoot, they're only a couple of hours away and spectacular. If ya got a bike, ride the brand new bike way from Moose Junction to Jenny Lake. If ya don't have a bike, rent one at Dornan's.
* Speaking of mountains...you MUST do the Beartooth Scenic Byway. Oh my GOD! This has got to be the most special and spectacular drive in America (bar none!). Just go out the Northeast entrance and follow the signs (straight up)...this is as close to heaven you can get without killing yourself.
* If you are there in July, plan to attend the Plains Indian Pow Wow in Cody. If you are there in August, plan to attend the hot air balloon festival in Cody (I missed the balloons, darn it!)
Culinary treasures ...
* Einos near West Yellowstone - the steaks here are cooked to perfection (because YOU are the cook!)
* Helen's Corral Drive-In in Gardiner - the world's best Buffalo Burgers! Period!
* Wyoming Rib & Chop in Cody - Great menu, pretty servers, cold beer, nice decor, reasonable prices. I love the way the gals can write their names upside down when they greet you at the table. Oh did I mention really great FROG legs?
* Merry Piglets in Jackson - Absolutely the closest thing you can get to real Tex-Mex in Wyoming. If you demand REAL Tex-Mex ya got to drive to Texas...sorry.
Financial comments ....
* Get real folks .... how much money are you really expecting to sock away earning minimum wage?
* Try staying inside a National Park for 4 months paying regular, commercial rates for food and lodging. Figure this cost up and you will quickly realize the biggest benefit of working in the park.
* You can attempt to save every dime, do nothing, and never order a beer (or soda). I say..screw it...spend the money and have fun. Don't do seasonal work thinking you are going to bank all the cash, as they just do not pay that much.
These are the things that came immediately to mind ... if I think of more I will post a Part 2.
Happy trails to you .... Richard aka aggie71