Sunday, May 18, 2008


Friday was a Top Ten Day. Definitely an amazing, wonderful day. Here's why:

  1. The weather was spectacularly warm and sunny.
  2. I got 2 care packages in the mail.
  3. The grocery store clerks were nice to me.
  4. There's now food in my fridge.
  5. I cleaned the bathroom.
  6. I finally planted my garden.
  7. Sabrina and I hiked Beaver Ponds in record time.
  8. The arrow leaf balsam root is starting to grow.
  9. I rode a bicycle.
  10. Brian and company came home from Chile.
  11. I played tether ball.
  12. I had an amazing dinner (salmon, asparagus, and peppers).

Top Ten Amazing day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


One of the best things ever is the smell of rain and sagebrush combined. The sweetly perfumed dewdrops stimulated my mind and reminded me of all the beauty, joy, and mystery of the West. There is nothing sweeter than that combination of senses here in Yellowstone.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Uinta Ground Squirrels

After months of hibernating under the Mammoth ground, the Uinta Ground Squirrels have reappeared. Where solid ground lay barely one month ago, now the yard is potholed with Uinta Ground Squirrel lairs.

The little buffy ground squirrels leap and frolick across the ground, enjoying the warming climate. When threatened, they dive into the nearest hole with an astoundingly loud call. "BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" they chirp to their companions, warning them that the giants are around. Occasionally they sound out a short, "CHIIIIRP!" in warning instead. But, the stealthy creatures make this noise only when you are inches away, engrossed in another activity, so you are startled and jump in the air with their call. They probably run away giggling that they scared the humans.

My roommate and I decided that their language is actually them squeeking out their name. So, the "BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" translated into human lingo is, "UINTA GROUND SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" And the occasional "CHIIIIRP!" is the team mascot call, "UINTA!" Translated into human talk, the sound is a high pitched, chipmunk noise. "UINTA!" Whenever I see them scuttling across the yard, chirping to their buddies, I always look at them and squeek, "UINTA GROUND SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!! UINTA!" I hope this makes us friends but I don't think it's working because they still like to startle me at the end of the day.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


I just don't get it. I don't understand why people consciously climb over railings and trample the terraces. It makes no sense to me but people do it all the time. The boardwalks of Yellowstone remind me of an elementary school game. When I was a little kid we played this game where we had to hop from carpet square to carpet square without touching the ground. The ground was actually molten lava, or sometimes a sea full of man eating sharks, whatever the case, you definitely did not want to touch the ground. By hopping from carpet to carpet, you stayed alive and survived the evil ground. Well, that's what boardwalks are like. You stay on the boardwalk and you stay alive. You probably won't fall through Yellowstone's shallow crust and get scalded by boiling water or eaten by acid or killed in some other rather gruesome way. If you get off the board walk, you may die, and you will definately be an evil trampler, a destroyer of wildness. People who get off the boardwalk are on my bad side. Indefinately.

Every day I rove the travertine terraces, full of admiration for their delicate, chalky forms. And every day I find new sneaker tracks in the travertine. These are tracks that take forever to disappear. These tracks gouge out inches of soft rock with every step. They destroy, maul, and befoul the beautiful terraces. It makes me sick. It makes me mad. It makes me want to sic Law Enforcement on their asses.

Fortunately, I had such an opportunity just last week. While roving the upper terraces I noticed an entire family of five trampling around the top of Palette Spring. They were easily 20 feet from the nearest boardwalk, smiling, waving at their cameras, destroying the travertine! I was too far to reach them, a snow pile lay between us. Quivering with anger, I quickly radioed in to Comm Center the ugly, trampling offense. "10-4, Mammoth Patrol, do you copy?" And before I knew it Mammoth Patrol was on the look out for the offenders. Ha! And 15 minutes later, Law Enforcement aprehended their asses! Boooyaw! The score: 100 for protection, 0 for the offenders.

Unfortunately, there are new tracks every day and normally we don't catch the tramplers. So, I've taken to telling visitors they may fall through the shallow rock to their imminent death. I say this with my don't-mess-with-a-super-volcano-you-idiot voice. Hopefully it works.