Flying into the Future

7 07 2013

The Roosevelt Arch welcomes visitors to the northern gate of Yellowstone National Park.

The Roosevelt Arch welcomes visitors to the northern gate of Yellowstone National Park.

Greetings from Yellowstone National Park!

I have decided to fast forward this blog into the present. A lot has happened since my last post chronicling events in September of 2012. I lost my grandmother, helped re-elect a President, traveled to Russia and Italy, made a pilgrimage to the Vatican, lobbied for equality at the Florida Capital and now find myself back in the wilderness.

I have been here for almost two months now. It is quite different from the Grand Canyon. For starters, there is much more life, the park is huge and teaming with an abundance of animals, birds, plants, trees and flowers. The mountains are gorgeous and the rivers and waterfalls almost too picturesque for words. Wary of working retail again, I applied for and got a job as an activity sales agent. Basically, this is a concierge position and, much to my surprise, I received a coveted post inside the historic Old Faithful Inn. Not a bad place to be at all. The Inn, built in 1904 out of rustic lodgepole pine logs, is a vibrant place during the summer months and time goes by quickly.

I’m the youngest guy in our department which is rather surprising considering the number of college students employed at the park. As I write this, only six of our original 10 sales agents remain. We trained for three weeks at Mammoth Hot Springs, getting to know the park, each other and the computer system we would be operating. Mammoth is where the park service top brass live and is the only location in Yellowstone open year round.

I have gone through several roommates already. Currently, I share a room with Keyon, a university student from Singapore. For some reason I have become a magnet for intelligent Asians. Keyon works in the Old Faithful Inn Gift Shop and is studying art and graphic design. He watches Pokémon, the Japanese animation, religiously and claims to be a “free thinker.” Keyon says he is in Yellowstone on a trip of self discovery and to get closer to nature.

Self discovery was my mission last year in the Grand Canyon. I’m in Yellowstone because it was the only job I could get and the thought of spending the summer unemployed in Panama City was unbearable and so here I am in the heart of bear country. My job has more dignity this year although the pay is still minuscule. There are days when I answer more than 300 questions, half of which being: “When’s the next Old Faithful eruption?” I wear a uniform that resembles a dairy man ready to deliver the day’s fresh load of milk only with a grizzly bear logo sewn across my left chest.

My first roommate was a nice fella named Joe from Naples, Fla. We had been introduced via email by our manager and arranged to share a hotel room in Bozeman, Montana before reporting for duty. We met at the airport in Minneapolis having both taken the flight up from Atlanta. I was surprised to find that Joe was slightly slow — the result of a motorcycle accident, he said, that nearly claimed his life and left him with a metal plate in his head. Disability be damned, Joe was eager for a new adventure.

“I’m headed to Yellowstone,” Joe would tell anybody in the airport willing to listen. “Goin’ sell pony rides.”

As we prepared for take off, I caught myself reminiscing about my first flight into Montana as a recent graduate of Troy State University and Sports Editor of the Troy (Ala.) Messenger on assignment to cover the football team’s playoff game against the University of Montana Grizzlies. That game will forever be known as the “Missoula Massacre” for the Trojans fell by a score of 70-7. Those were the days before the internet and the instant world of Twitter and Facebook. I remember having to take pictures and FedEx the roll of film back to Alabama. It was my first year as a professional journalist. My how time flies.




One response

7 07 2013

Glad to see you’ve caught up with yourself! Good writing. I’m anxious to read more. Much less to say of life here at home. Will scribble something when events can be accumulated into some sort of critical mass. Keep smiling!

Sent from my iPad

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