Monday, March 31, 2008

White Out

I woke to the sounds of a snowplow grating against the pavement. It jarred me awake and I realized snow must have fallen overnight. Outside, the world was wintery white. Snow flakes flurried across the sky, yanked hither and thither by the blustery wind. It looked utterly cold.

In the kitchen, I heated up some oatmeal, hoping it would stick to my ribs and keep me warm. Then, on went the NPS layers and the flat hat and out into the cold I ventured. Three inches of snow lay on the walk and I shoveled it quickly before heading to the Visitor Center. The entire sky and earth were white. Imposing Mt Everts had vanished in the blowing snow, leaving only a solid white presence in the foreground.

I trudged down the drive to the VC, snow and wind blowing me off course. Inside was a haven of warmth that lasted only briefly as I picked up the flag and headed to the flagpole. Sepulcher Mountain and the Absarokas had also disappeared into the hazy white of the blizzard. This was a veritable white out. I couldn't even see the Terraces, a mere quarter mile away. I could hardly see the hotel. The flag tugged and fluttered with excitement at being hoisted high into the air. My fingers and ears grew numb with the wintery exposure as I turned to salute the flag.

Inside, a ranger called with the road report. Zero visibility, blizzard conditions, white out. It's a good day to stay inside, I thought as I watched snow drifts form outside. It was a good day for hibernation, for hot chocolate, for hot springs, and anything geared towards hunkering down. Although the days are long and the month say it's spring, it feels like January here. It may almost be April, but it's winter here in Wonderland.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Coming Home to Yellowstone

My heart is glad to once again be home. Not home home like Iowa, but home like heart-happy home. I wake each morning to Yellowstone, each day to a new adventure, each minute to the splendor that is this wonderland. My home is in historic Fort Yellowstone. I can imagine what life was like at the Fort as our first park rangers, the US Cavalry, lived to protect this amazing place. When I look outside it is to spectacular views of Sepulcher Mountain, the beautiful Absaroka Range, snow-covered Capital Hill, shining orange travertine terraces, and stunning Mt. Everts.

Yellowstone is my cathedral. Here I feel at peace and content to discover the endless pleasures, joys, and mysteries of the Park. I find solace in its mountains. Seeing the great bison, elk, big horned sheep, and pronghorns remind me of my love for the West, my love for Yellowstone. I am surrounded by wildness and beauty. It is what I had craved for for so long in Guatemala. I had yearned for Yellowstone.

Rapidly, like melting snow in the spring, I can feel myself returning to a gentle balance after nearly a year of stress, turmoil, loneliness, and isolation in Guatemala. The constant malcontent that threw me off balance in Guatemala is gone and I feel my normal self returned. I am jubulent. I am heart and soul happy. Yellowstone has blessed me anew.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Last Three Weeks

The new name is still coming, but it's been a flood of happenings back in the US of A. So many in fact, that I'm going to list the events and write more later.

  1. I hung out in a Sports Bar on my first night back and saw some major business stooges.
  2. The 25th Annual Maple Syrup Fest at the Indian Creek Nature Center went on. The weather was fantastic and I got to practice my interpretive skills while talking about Pioneer methods for sugaring.
  3. I talked at CR's Daybreak Rotary Club. Fun group.
  4. Mom, Dad, and I ventured to Cantril, IA, and enjoyed shopping in an Amish general store where you can buy anything under the sun.
  5. I caught up with random friends and dogs (who don't have fleas).
  6. Dan left for a month long trip to Europe, the Mid-East, and Africa. We liked to say Mom and Dad got one kid back safely only to have another go abroad.
  7. I got a new cell phone and it's amazing.
  8. Cedar Rapids now sells some New Belgium brews. This is a big step.
  9. I began the journey west to much emotions about leaving home and heading home.
  10. Carly greeted me with open arms in Lincoln, NE. We had fun meeting her grad school friends and I was reminded of how ridiculous grad school is. I was also reminded of how amazing micro brews are.
  11. I made a marathon trip across the enormous state of Nebraska and arrived in South Dakota.
  12. Matt showed me around Rapid City, including the Firehouse restaurant and treated me to some home brews.
  13. Jewel Cave had free cave tours so I went spelunking.
  14. Matt arranged a tour up behind Mount Rushmore's heads. A view few have seen.
  15. I unwisely decided to try driving in hopes of clearer roads west. The result: I crashed my car by Sundance, WY. I am fine, however, and the car is in the process of getting fixed.
  16. Matt picked me up from Sundance and brought me back to Rapid City.
  17. I learned what State Troopers do and how to run the sirens in their cars.
  18. I rode in a tow truck and learned what makes a good, high quality tow truck.
  19. I found some advantages of only having liability insurance including cheaper tows. That's about it tho.
  20. A waitress named Bobby at the Aro in Sundance asked if I was a hitch hiker while the other waiters and waitresses correctly assessed that I had wrecked my car. The funny thing about the waiters and waitresses was all the young ones were emo. How does that happen in a little town?
  21. I reconnected with Sandi, Dave, and Grandma O. Fox the cat seems to be okay with my presence.
  22. Matt and I explored downtown Rapid City, SD, including stopping at the Nature Conservancy to visit Bob, getting Matt's haircut at his ridiculously cool salon called the Factory, walking Art Alley, drinking coffee, exploring Prairie Edge, and checking out the random counter culture shops like Ernie November and Global Market.
  23. We walked to the Stratobowl and learned how people fly weather balloon-esque balloons there because it's a perfectly protected valley so it's not very windy.
  24. I had the best St Patrick's Day ever which involved good company, corned beef and cabbage, green beer, car bombs, fooze ball, pool, AND getting jiggy with it.
  25. Yellowstone has kindly said that I can start work pretty much a week late since I crashed my car.
  26. I'm reflecting about the loss of my capability to put two and two together.
  27. Matt and I learned how very white we are. Check it out: Stuff White People Like
Welp, that's the short and narrow of it. Probably there will be a few good posts about this in the not so distant future. In the mean time, enjoy contemplating the busy few weeks of America I've been enjoying.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


I am back in the USA, which means a transition for the Guatemalan Adventures blog. Stay posted for updates about Iowa and traveling to Yellowstone! This blog is getting transformed!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Eight Months: Thank You, Guatemala

Guatemala, I know you and I got off to a rocky start. Times weren't always happy or comforting. I learned I am very American and very not Guatemalan. But throughout it all, you helped me to become a stronger person.

Guatemala, in the end, I've grown fond of you. I've grown fond of your geometric conical volcanoes. Your huge cumulonimbus clouds edged in gold drift often through my mind. Your rich culture full of textiles, temples, and traditional cultures. I loved your rugged mountain country filled with canyons, valleys, and immense mountains. I've grown fond of you, Guatemala, that's just it.

Thank you, Guatemala, for letting me come home safely. Thank you for helping me grow and change. Thank you for inspiring my writing and photography. Thank you for teaching me to live alone. Thank you, Guatemala, for sharing weaving with me. Thank you for forcing me into a difficult situation. Thank you for giving me strength to get through each hard day. Thank you for sharing beauty that gave me joy. Thank you for the friends I met, people I knew, and people I will know due to a connection to you. Thank you for great coffee, cardamom, fresh fruit, and macademia nuts. Thank you for an awesome research project. Thank you for Mayan pyramids, Mayan language, and Mayan crafts.

Thank you for everything.

Thank you for you.