Ah- life in Yellowstone! Back to work after injuring my back and being on Social Security Disability since 2009. WONDERFUL! Yellowstone is one of my favorite places in the world. Fresh air, mountains, flowers, wildlife. Hikes in the woods. Tramping up mountain trails. AND making money for the first time in 4 years! YAY!
This was in May shortly after I arrived- they call the baby bison “Red Dogs.” Don’t make the mamas mad!
This is Mrs. Pronghorn- you can tell because she has no horns and the males have black patches on their cheeks.
Mrs Moose and her baby. Just for the record- almost all the Moms are single Moms- raising their babies alone. Some notable exceptions- the Wolves and the Raptors.
Ah life was grand. Got out hiking and sightseeing every day off. Some crazy glitches over the summer of course- but that is the restaurant biz for you. The end of August came and the weather was still good and the guests were coming in droves. (By the way- the tour buses were FULL of Asian tourists. We also had quite a few international employees from MAINLAND China. What? Young Chinese being allowed to travel to a non-communist country? Hmmmm.)
September came and still the tourists came. And still I got out on my days off. I drove the Beartooth Highway (scary but beautiful), I went to Cody and Jackson Hole. Every time I ventured out of the Park into civilization I quickly remembered everything I hate about cities. Crowds, pollution, traffic from hell. Ok we do get traffic jams here in the park- but they are called “Bison Jams” and “Bear Jams.”
So September is rolling along, the Aspens are turning yellow. Business is getting slightly slower- but we are still working hard every day. Some word starts getting around- mostly through FB as there are very few TV’s here- that the government is going to shut down. I think- NAH- it’s the same BS as we get every six months. The children get into a spat, the argue and wrangle for a week and then they pass a CR. Same crap every six months right? Rouse the Rabble and then business as usual.
October 1st comes and BOOM! The government does shut down- but the little unit I run gets orders to remain open as all the guests already in the park have 48 hours to leave. OOOOOOKKKKK.
Business fell off like aliens had abducted the population of the country! Nonetheless, we stay open and start our end of season deep cleaning process. What the heck- might as well get ahead right?
Now it is kind of complicated. The company I work for is a concessionaire under contract to the government. All the menus and operating hours are approved by NPS and cannot be changed without their permission. The hope in the beginning was that this would all blow over in a few days.
On October 3rd we got word that NPS had agreed we could close for the season on the 4th. BOOOM! Just like that- we were closed. Then we all had one day off to see if the government would come to their senses. NOT. Meanwhile a notice came out that there would be NO NO NO NO recreating of any kind. None. No hiking, biking, picture taking, sightseeing. NADA. Travel between locations only on official business. No stopping along the way. (Are we supposed to run over the bison now?) We are restricted to our “land use agreement areas.” Those are the areas directly maintained by our company. The dorms, parking lots and hotel areas. The one General Store run by another concessionaire and the gas station. (At least they sell booze!)
Mind you now- many of my seasonal employees had prior travel arrangements. Their contracts ran through the 16th of October. And modifying flights and bus tickets can cost a bundle. So my company decided all those with prior travel arrangements would be fed and housed through their end dates. The way it works is if they work less than x hours, no deduction will be made for room and board. OK then. So the company is now on the hook to feed and house all these people – FOR FREE. Thanks Obama.
Part of the contract includes capital improvements to infrastructure. The government owns all the buildings and the concessionaires are responsible for upkeep and improvements. So now there is that much less money coming in to pay for all that. PLUS- the company pays a percentage of what it makes to NPS/Government as the fee for the privilege of running all the hotels, food services etc. Nice huh? Less money in the coffers of both a private company AND the government! A Twofer! YAY!
Ok back to we poor folks working here. My initial contract ran through Oct 16th. Then when I was promoted to F&B Manager, I was asked to extend and post season down at Old Faithful until Nov 5th. Okey dokey, More money for gas to get home and then back here for winter season. (Which may or may not commence in December.”)
Alrighty then. We finished up on Tuesday and we told we were on hold. Meaning we can’t leave. Meaning that if the government reopens we all go back to work. We were told we would know yesterday. Uhm not. Yesterday the decision was made to close the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful. Now the unit in which I was scheduled to post season is the Geyser Grill- which is IN the Snow Lodge. But no decision has been made with regards to that unit.
Nice. So I packed up all my stuff and moved from Mammoth Hot Springs down to my winter quarters at Old Faithful. And here I sit. No pay coming in. (But nothing to spend money on either! Even the General Store here is closed- no snacks, no booze, no nothing.) Old Faithful and the other geysers are out there- but NO recreating.
But here is a pic from an earlier trip of the most famous thing in Yellowstone. Old Faithful.
TRAPPED! I am TRAPPED! All because of a bunch of stupid, spoiled brats in Washington who won’t do the job we pay them to do.
Please God I get out of here before we get snowed in!