Thursday, September 13, 2007

Arrival to Yellowstone National Park

Our Colorado visit was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends. A special thanks to Pete, Craig & Cinthia, and Win & Tracy for beds to sleep on. We started on a double bed with a bathroom just outside the door, then got a room with its own bathroom, then got an entire apartment! That’s some good friends.

Laura and I arrived in Bozeman, Montana on labor day after a 10 hour drive from Lakewood, CO. The next morning we drove to Gardiner, Montana where we were to check in for our Yellowstone assignment. Gardiner is a small town immediately to the north of the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We checked in and were excited to hear our assignment was kitchen crew for the Old Faithful Inn. During our 1997 summer work, we were both stationed at Lake Lodge and didn’t have many opportunities to explore the Old Faithful area (called the Upper Geyser Basin but we’ll save that for next blog post).

After receiving our uniforms, we entered the world’s first national park for the first time in 10 years. Ahh, the memories. Roosevelt Arch welcomed us into the park. Inscribed on the top of the arch are the words, “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people”.

We stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs to grab some lunch at the EDR (Employee Dining Room) before continuing on to Old Faithful, which is approximately 50 miles from Mammoth. There’s nothing good to say about the EDR except that they all have a decent salad bar. I’d actually trade my EDR tickets for Mama Gladness’s rice and beans dinners from Africa. At least in Africa, the food was natural.

We drove our way South and numerous sites made it impossible not to stop. Along the way, many of the Yellowstone lifers also welcomed us.

When we arrived at the inn, we checked into our accomodations and were assigned a 10:30 AM meeting with the inn management to receive our direct assignment. Having the afternoon to do as we wish, we decided to get settled into our rooms and then explore the inn.

The inn is more than 100 years old and made mostly of lodgepole pines, which Yellowstone is full of. It also was designated a National Historic Site in the 1980s. We were immediately blown away by the lobby.

The lobby had 4 floors of which tourists could meander on 2 of them (2 are unsafe for constant traffic after an earthquake some years ago). A large fireplace is a major part of the lobby floor.

The park service offers inn tours so Laura and I hope to go on one of those. Of course, what really makes this rustic hotel famous is its proximity to the Old Faithful geyser.

It’s possible to watch Old Faithful fire off from the inn’s second floor outside deck, but most want a closer, more personal glimpse.

Old Faithful is a cone geyser which is famous for its timeliness. The geyser can be predicted within +/- 10 minutes which fits well into most Americans’ schedules. It also occurs quite frequently, going off about every 90 minutes. The inn even has a clock within its lobby so guests can check out the next “blast time”.

Old Faithful is the most visited site in Yellowstone making the inn the most popular place to stay and eat. The restaurant has approximately 200 tables.

The next morning we reported for duty and were assigned the lowest, dirtiest kitchen job at the inn, DISHWASHER! The only thing that’s made this job fun is the people you work with. I’ve been working in the dish room with Debbie, a Montana native, who gets about twice the amount of work done in half the amount of time that I take. We run a huge industrial dishwasher.

Laura is working with Nadim, an Indian man from Portland, Oregon. Nadim is the best conversationalist in the park; he’s got great stories. They are the pot scrubbers.

Laura has been picking up extra shifts as hostess in hopes of getting out of the dishwashing gig.

I’m going to be doing the same as a restaurant busser in the near future. Things seem to change fast in the kitchen so I think we’ll be moving around before long. Because help is far and few between, we’ve got 6 9-hour days this week so it will be a rough one. Just gotta keep remembering how great that day off will be!


Jeff Coburn said...

Egads---six 9 hour shifts? How do you combat that kind of dish pan hands?

J.Pallotta said...

Latex and Nitrile gloves keep our fingers from chapping off but dishpan hands have been the norm since we've been here. It sucks!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the pic of my favorite "Yellowstone native--I think he was the same one that your mother tried to get a close-up of 10 years ago!!! don't expect to get out of the dishwashing gig too soon you probably need to hone those skills quite a bit more..

Greg said...

Wow! Collecting my thoughts and images from 30 some tears ago.

Using my selection list, you are at the best of places. It always renewed our outlook on life to visit Yellowstone. And now we are doing it again through your thoughts and pictures. We have not been there since 1989 or so.
So your blog is real special.

Enjoy and be safe while you are there. The memories truly last a lifetime.

From the bare poles of previous Jack Pines in Old F photo. I can now see how close a fire was to the OF Inn. Thanks.

Finally with all the winter hair on his head tell the American Bison his eye is in the wrong places; and that we taxpayers want him to relocate it immediately.

Has been near to frost here the last two nights and one more forecast. And we are at 800 ft elevation. Not your 7355. The days however have been spectacular.

Thanks for the blog entries. They are greatly appreciated.