Thanks for the info Dan.....I vacationed in Glacier last July and absolutely loved it......hoping to go next year as well as return to Yellowstone. Just got back from a vacation in Denver, spent time in Breck and Winter Park....love that area as well.
I read an old blog post of yours about Telluride and I was hoping you could answer a Q for me. It looks like I may have an opportunity to work at Alpino Vino in Telluride this winter, but I am worried about finding housing. Any suggestions?
Hi, I have never been to Montana but I was am trying to find my biological father that I have never met. His name is William (Bill) Stubbert. I was wondering if you might have known him or maybe even have worked with him? If not that's okay. Just had to ask.
I actually am not there yet, if you can believe it. I am leaving Wednesday. I have tried to Email them a couple of times with a few questions with no response which is causing some anxiety. I'll call there Tuesday. I am really excited and nervous...Pretty much I get along with everyone in the world and I love new experiences so I think I'll be fine- but still..
Hiya, Dan. I noticed that you have worked at Lake McDonald and wonder if you could answer a few questions for me. I'll be working the bar there and would like to know how the bartenders do(money-wise)each night. Also, how's the fishing and how many employees normally share a room together. I understand that there is a new dorm this year, though. Oh yeah, how's the EDR and employee break area? Thank you in advance.
OMG!!!!! I love your comments!!! So full of information & detail. Gonna take my time dissecting all the info you chocked full in this latest comment!! thanks so very much!!!! so far, your message has given me incredible encouragement to keep reaching for my dream!!!!!!
Haha! just went back and re-read your comment and saw you mentioned being with other young people like myself. Thanks for the complement! Actually by the time I methodically work my way to the point of cutting loose from this 9to5'er (4 to 5 years from now), I will be 53, which I'm thinking is not too young, so being with "young" people is not something on my list of criteria. probably far from it! LOL
Hi Dan, thanks so much for your input about housekeeping. As far as working within a minority group, that's something I would actually prefer. I speak some Spanish and pretty much all my friends throughout my life have been from other countries. My husband was a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant when we met. I don't really see color or status when I see a person. So to me, being the only white woman in the work group would feel like the norm. And after sitting here for so long at a typewriter, I'm ready for some physical work, that's for sure. On the weekends, I'm outside building, raking, cutting, digging and so forth. I enjoy working with my hands. So like you said, a little sweat in a beautiful setting wouldn't seem so bad. Also, thanks for the references on places to start out. I will do a little more research on the places you mentioned. Stay in touch!
Hi Dan, By reading your blog/comments, I'm thinking you may not have ever worked in housekeeping, but perhaps you have observed those who do. Got any thoughts, comments or advice that I can take into consideration? I "think" that housekeeping is the job I would like because of the routineness and the anominity aspect of the job, but of course, there is the "ick" factor to deal with, but I think I can handle that as well with a good pair of gloves on. LOL! But what have you observed as far as hours, expectations, stress-level in the housekeeping jobs you've seen. I know the pay is probably rock bottom, but that's why I'm sticking with my 9to5 job for a few years so I can get debt-free before venturing out into the wonderful world of seasonal work. My pay & bonuses will be the ability to see new places and experience things I would never experience if I stay in this windowless cube the rest of my life. ya know what I mean? Thanks for reading my email - hope you can give me a little idea of what I might be inviting myself into in a few years.
Maybe I was wrong. I don't think Obsidian's behind the new Snow Lodge but the newish dorm for those over-30 and married couples.
As you're Sag, be sure and take a run to Cody for a rodeo that's held nightly for almost all of the summer. Also, stop at Pahaska at the Park Entrance on your way. Another great day trip is historic ghost town Virginia City.
One of my favorite memories of the Park and Old
Faithful is the summer I got hurt working construction and so came up to be a cashier in the Old Faithful main dining room until my leg healed.
We were working split shifts of 9 hours, 6 days a week so the day off was very important.
There is a hike where you leave the area over by the dorms and come back through the employee RV village. The trail forms an A and you start at the bottom of one leg or the other.
You can take the short route and just come across the bar between the two legs half way up or go the long route that is 30 miles end-to-end with the tip of the A being the highest point, a low pass.
If you count starting from the Old Faithful Inn employee dining room and ending at the Old Faithful Lodge employee dining room, it is about thirty-one and a half miles door to door to do the long A over the pass and back.
As a Sag, I know you can value the fact that added to the distance was that I was alone and the Rangers' said no one to their knowledge had made it over that pass yet for the season and they would like to know how deep the snow was and how much deadfall of trees there was on the trail to be cleared.
I think it had rained on my previous day off or I had had to run into West Yellowstone for something and so I was READY for a hike. The kitchen fixed a sack lunch for me and I buzzed out of the EDR about 6:40am.
I figured if I hurried right along, I could make about 3 miles per hour and the 30 miles'd be 10 hours or 7am to 5pm - a 20-minute break at 10 miles where I'd eat half my lunch and nother at 20 miles where I'd eat the other for energy and that would see me back at the other EDR at 5:20 pm.
I walked slowly uphill, fast on the flats and jogged downhill until I got to the place where you have to decide to take the short cross-leg cutting the A in half or go all the way up to the pass and the unknown amount of snow, mud and downfall.
Surprising to me, I got to the cutoff ahead of schedule and decided I could go ahead on until exactly noon and if I hadn't started in the direction back by then, I would just reverse myself and head back over the leg I had come to be sure to be out of the woods by dark.
Once I made that decision, I really applied myself to the 3-tier system of hiking and jogging and reached the pass with some time to spare. It was a good thing, at elevation the trail turned to thigh-deep snow with an uneven crust so you'd walk on top for awhile then crash through and posthole, sinking a couple of feet with each step.
My pace slowed to a mile per hour and I knew that if the snow didn't end soon, that I would have spent more than half my time before dark and that I'd have to accept boredom and go back the way I had come.
As though on schedule, the pass' snow ended at just a mile and an hour and I made it back exactly on time, reporting the the Park Circus ( Service ) that my postholes were the only ones in the snow at the pass.
It was a glorious day, a little foolish as I did that long hike alone, but the adrenaline ran just a little from the time I left the EDR and the sinuses cleared and the respiration was deep. When you are that far out alone on a partly cloudy day, your hearing sharpens and you kind of sniff like an animal. You sense the wind for a change as a sudden rise in winds and drop in temps makes a difference over 20 miles.
Alone, different wildlife means different things. One day when I worked at the Pahaska dude ranch I was on a hike and a mama grouse did the fake injury thing and when I didn't follow her away from her nest that was right next to the trail, she followed me pecking at my pants cuff as I was close to the little chicklings.
I think maybe my other favorite memory is one sunny day doing the Firehole River swimming hole. You can ride down the rapids like a theme park ride and there are 30-foot cliffs to dive/jump off on a dare.
The water's very warm for mountain water as the geyser water raises the temperature. It's also crystal clear so when you're in the big swimming hole, you can swim underwater and see amazingly.
There are some ledges and a gravel beach where you can lay on a towel and have your lunch the kitchen prepared for you.
I guess I couldn't close without mentioning the "powwows" we used to have at Canyon. Someone would be in charge of firewood and they would roam the woods bringing lots of dead logs.
They would form a teepee of wood about 5 feet tall in a big fire ring that was ringed with benches made out of logs cut in half.
They would hold off lighting the pyramid until 10pm so it was dark and almost everyone who had worked the evening shift could get there without missing much if anything.
There would be the monstrous fire in the unbelievablly crisp clear air with no other sounds but woods sounds. The obligatory boom box would have some roaring truly good sounds coming from it and the cold, cold Molson beer would taste like the first beer you had ever had.
On one great occasion we had a lip synch contest for the prize of two six packs. A quiet 20-something kid who worked in the grocery suddenly jumped up on the bench and did a perfect Mick Jagger with the lips and the baying voice and everything and it was as good as any Johnny Carson show.
That was topped when a kind of short and thin girl jumped up and was wearing tight black pants, a white blouse and a black fedora like Michael Jackson's. The lip synched one of his songs with the moon walk and everyting down so pat that it was just the icing on the cake when she ended the show by using her hands to flip her small breasts.
Pahaska used to have an employee night where the 8 oz cups of tap beer were twenty-five cents and the workers from all 9 dude ranches lining the 50-mile stretch of highway from the Park to Cody would all come. Pahaska had a western band on occasion and even a quick draw artist and it's 2 miles from the Park entrance and so doable after a day shift easily.
The old employee pub was just off of the Inn and was a kind of long, skinny set of sheds with sloping wooden floors but, man, was it a party.
There were fights and dancing and it was like Dirty Dancing with a frontier flare. The new pub, nice as it is, just doesn't get the back-to-nature flavor that the old place that they tore down did.
For some reason, a kind of nice town to visit that isn't too resorty is Ennis, about 70 miles past West Yellowstone. It has some shops and restaurants but seems a little more like a clubhouse for the locals in the summer and has a real Montana flavor that maybe West and Jackson don't have.
Don't miss seeing the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and you can eat lunch and/or dinner in their EDR there too. The rainy days were the real bummer of the Park as any number of them saw freezing rain so if you save your gift shop browsing and pub visits and on-site stuff, you'll be ahead of the boredom on a rainy day off.
I have worked hotel front desks for more than 25 years. I went back to college in my 30's and got certified to teach 7-12 history and social science but found the competition fierce and that it had been a lot more interesting to be surrounded by 16-year olds when I was 16 too.
My story is something from the Tonight Show. I was planning on marrying my on again off again college sweetheart and our plan was I would get into a night law school, teaching school by day.
During the deepest recession since the Great Depression, there were maybe 6 metro areas nationwide where that was doable and the double admission took even longer than the normal year.
Kathleen - a Cancer - took that as lack of interest and went back to dating, 'call me when you get it together but I'm making no promises'.
That is why I just stayed in Vail when, on a Christmas Eve in 1984, I called her enroute to her Denver home to let her know I had just been admitted to a law school and hired as a teacher in Los Angeles, starting in 9 days...called her to hear a recording, "This is Tom Such and Such. My wife kathleen and I are out for the evening but leave a message blah blah."
As a Cancer and a Sag are doomed to have to work very hard to make a relationship work, it was an act of kindness and I had so much fun the first 10 years in Vail that I never called her aunt to verify that until 10 years later!
As a Sag, maybe you could do one or two summers in Yellowstone and then move to another Park. I loved the variety of different locations in one Park and then changing Parks entirely.
Glacier is not to be missed. After about 6 weeks there, the Blackfeet Indian sense of time begins to creep into your mind and you suddenly lose the US American white sense of being too old that is so common.
No lie! You suddenly completely and clearly feel that you are so smart for pacing yourself so that you didn't overdo some scramble for something or other.
Perfectly healthy and with a great outlook, you are now poised for the finesse power, or glamor, or romantic move that only patience could perfect.
The fountain of youth in the flesh.
I just signed up to do Lake Powell's 8-month season starting March 1. I've been threatening to move out of the mountains and see what the rest of the world is like so the great desert reservoir that is the houseboating capital of the West should be an event.
I got good scuttlebutt from three people I knew who worked there so the timing was preceded by the interest. I guess you have about a 90-day season in Jellystone, with the school year...
If you find teaching a little boring, I would have almost zero time between school shifts and Park shifts.
If you just love school and it fulfills you and all that, try to get a couple of down days between the teaching and the Park to shift gears and then you can really savor the difference between the two.
Last but not least, if you look at Expedia, it'll fix you a nice route, telling you the miles and time to drive.
One trick to using that is, if you have the time, to pick maybe one or two places that you want to see enroute and that aren't too far out of your way.
Ask Expedia for two routes, one from home to the side attraction - say Mt. Rushmore - and one from the side attraction to the Park.
By comparing that to your original home-to-Park route, you can see what it costs in time and if you want or can do it. Of course, Lake Powell's not exactly on the straight line between Jellystone and your home but you can be sure you have a jet ski outing waiting if you make it a route with a right-turn in it.
By the way, until the 19th I'm at toll-free 888-601-5678 11pm to 7 am Mountain Time, save Mondays and Tuesdays. Ciao.
Dan, Thank you so much for the wonderfully written dissertation on life in Yellowstone. You should be a spokesperson for the HR department. You gave some good advise, particularly about the need for galoshes and rain gear. I'll take care of all shopping for several months prior to my arrival (laundry detergent, shampoo, cokes, etc). I really appreciate all you said. Keep in touch. I'll let you know about my experiences. Beth
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