Tuesday, October 30

A Thermal Experience

It has been two months ago now. Two months ago that I moved from Billings to Bozeman. Two months ago that I was introduced to my new field crew who would see more of me than anyone else over the remainder of the MCC season. Almost two months ago that most of my crew and myself took a four day backpacking trip to Bechler region of Yellowstone national park. Bechler is a remote part of the park that has over 90% of all of Yellowstone's waterfalls. It is home to a large meadow stretching five miles in one direction and even longer the other direction. Continuing along the Bechler River, a hiker bares witness to waterfalls, cascades, steep canyon walls, and many thermal features.

Maggie, Katie, Joe, John, and I spent three nights enjoying the fall colors, the cool evenings, the starry nights and the soothing hot springs. This was my first experience sitting in a natural, boiling, hot spring. I spent two days in a hot spring affectionately called, Mr Bubbles. Mr Bubbles was a large spring that bubbled up from a large hole in the earth where a small thermal stream converged with the Bechler River. The closer you got to the erupting water from the center of Mr Bubbles, the more you could feel the violent vibrations of the stones that made up the bottom of the spring. It was intense. One couldn't help but wonder if it would at any given time just completely erupt like a geyser. The fear didn't keep us from standing right up next to the bubbling epicenter and eventually dig up the nerve to swim as fast as we could through it, scalding our skin as we thrashed about over it.

Wasting away an afternoon in the thermal waters of Mr. Bubbles

Looking down on Mr Bubbles

Searching for a spot where we weren't going to either scald our skin off, or freeze to death in the ice cold river water. No such luck, we quickly moved back to Mr Bubbles.

Tuesday, October 23

El Centro = The Center

A place to rest my head. A place to watch the Colts beat the Jaguars. A place to take a shower more than once or twice a week. A place to drink cheap coffee. A place that has furniture and mirrors.

A place to call home, for ten days - El Centro (Glendive, Montana)

Thursday, October 18

Where will you be tonight?

Sleeping. Most people don't really think about the end of their day so much. They have their evening routines, their habits and customs that they mindlessly pass through on their way to their bedrooms, their mood lighting, their fluffy pillows. I too, for years, have passed through the day and into the night with out a thought in the world about my comfortable nightly routine. Those days have long passed me by, however.
I do not worry about where I lay my head each night, although it is constantly on my mind, being that I do not have a place to call my own here in Bozeman. I have "resided" in Bozeman for a month and a half now and have wandered from here to there finding places to rest each night. Each day is an adventure, not knowing where I will breathe my first breath of sleep when night falls.
Though there are a few drawbacks to being without a home, I love how my situation gives others the opportunity to open their homes, their lives to me. I am continually blessed by the generosity and hospitality that has been freely given to me. My life is rich with the company of others during my stay here. I've slept on floors, on couches, on day beds, on futons, in a box and in my car. I've been invited to dinner parties, the movies, hiking trips, rock climbing, to coffee, to concerts, to cookouts, to football games. I've frequented the library, the coffee shops, the parks, the thrift stores. It is almost like I am a resident here, in Bozeman, yet I have no address, I am absent of any nightly habits and rituals, and though I go to the library, I am forced to borrow someone's library card to check books out.
I've learned a lot during this short-term adventure in Bozeman, MT. I've been blessed beyond measure and am better for it.
As a sidenote however, I am gloriously looking forward to the time when I will be able to sleep in a bed any night that I want, a time when nightly rituals are a habit, and my mind is not wondering where I will be waking up the next morning.

Sunday, October 14

A New Taste

I was introduced to Indian food for the first time last night. My friend, Maria, threw a party in which the guests were to bring an Indian inspired side dish. This proved hard for me. First of all, I've never eaten Indian food. Secondly, I don't have a kitchen to use even if I had known what Indians eat. Therefore, after much thought I arrived at the party with a small bag of almonds. A perfect side for someone without a kitchen. I was surprised to see the vast array of food on the table. I, honestly, had doubted the party's success - but was shocked to realize that lots of folks dig Indian cuisine.

The food was delicious. There were lentils, rice, and flat bread, although, I'm still not sure what most of the dishes were that I ate. All in all, I enjoyed myself immensely. And the almonds, though not the party favorite, were gone by the end of the night.

Hooray for trying new things!

Tuesday, October 9

It is called morning glory...

...and it is the hotspring in the park that has the most diverse microbial life within. The colors that you see are from the thermophiles (heat-loving bacteria) that thrive in the different heat zones of the hotspring. This spring was so deep that we couldn't see the bottom of it.

Cold Wet End to Trails

Winter has officially come to Yellowstone National Park. On our eight day hitch, it snowed nearly every night. We managed to complete our goals for Mystic Falls Trail, though it was a muddy mess the entire week. Over the past three hitches (24 total days on this tail) we put in 212 log retainers, 41 water bars, 21 stone steps, 36 cubic feet of cribwall log structure, and 1/4 mile of retread/rehinge work on the trail. It has been an amazing learning experience for us all and the national park crew that worked with us complimented us by saying we were the best MCC crew they have ever worked with in over seven years. We were treated to a potluck on Saturday night, main dishes: venison chili and fresh lake trout. And on Sunday the crew leader from the park bought us all Pizza and Wings at a pub in West Yellowstone while we watched the first half of the Bears/Packers football game.

I'll miss Yellowstone and the daily Bison traffic jams. I'll miss the sulfuric odor as we walked the boardwalk in Biscuit Basin each day to the Mystic Falls Trailhead. I'll miss the Nez Perce Cabin that the parks service let us use for cooking and staying warm in the evenings before heading to our cold tents for a long night of sleep. I'll miss learning new skills and applying them each day with quality and care. I'll miss the late night howls of packs of coyotes, the bugling of the elk, and the grunting of the bison nearby. I'll miss the weekly educational trips to different parts of the park to learn more about the geology of the unique landscape that is the park. I have been fortunate to have spent a month of my life getting my hands dirty in the dirt, rock, and mud of the land that is Yellowstone, to make the path a better place for those that follow. I hope someday some of you can visit the park and see what a magical place this is. And if you are here, head on over to Biscuit Basin, walk across the boardwalk until the wood ends and the forest begins, follow the trail that is called Mystic Falls. The loop is 3 miles, the path has been prepared for you and all the others.

Katie, Maggie, Joe, Jon (my co-leader), Derrick (another Hoosier), and me