Have you ever been on a blind date? If so, you’ll remember the jittery feeling in your stomach as the little demon in your head flashes images of all your short-comings, flaws and fears on the screen in the back of your mind . That’s how I felt on the day I was scheduled to arrive at my new home/job.
In my last post Departures, Gifts, and Good Luck! you might have noticed I was feeling pretty spunky. Today…not so much. Saturday, July 8, was the day I had been anticipating for months, but as the early-morning sun kissed Katrina’s nose, I found myself picking individual pine needles out of the entry rug, washing bug goo off the windshield (OK, it really needed it), and doing whatever meaningless chores I could think of to delay my departure.
I took a shower, braided my hair,
ironed packed clothes, stowed loose objects in the van until I couldn’t put it off any longer, it was finally time to go. Veering east on Hwy 2 & 287 kept me off the Interstate for about an hour, but soon enough I was in the midst of I-90 traffic hustling eastward like a swarm of mosquitos.
Wait! This is all going too fast. In an effort to stretch the day out a little more, I decided to find my favorite retailer, REI in Bozeman, to exchange some things I bought earlier. Maybe I could hang out long enough to grab lunch too? Who cares if it is only 9:00 am?
As much as I wanted to loaf around, it was getting hot, so I decided to seek higher (or at least cooler) ground. I jumped on the Interstate for another 20 miles, then off again at the Hwy 89 exit. I had dawdled long enough in Bozeman to warrant a lunch stop and grocery store visit before pushing on.
I found this quaint diner, the Northern Pacific Beanery – formerly the Northern Pacific Train Depot – located in the historic district of Livingston, MT.
Like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting, friends and families chatted and chuckled as the servers delivered fresh buffalo burgers, salads, soups, soda-fountain drinks and their famous homemade pie to the happy guests.
I sat at the counter next to a couple who reminded me of my dad and his friend, Sue. It appeared they stopped in for lunch, but since everyone knew their names, and razzed them about desert, I figured it was the cherry pie ala mode they were really after.
Another hour down (is this the longest day or what?) and I thought it was still too early to show up at the hostel, so I headed south on Hwy 89. Not far from Livingston, the air cooled as a thunderstorm crossed the Gallatin Range flanking the west and headed toward the Absaroka Mountains on the east of the Paradise Valley. The Yellowstone River meandered from one side of the road to the other and I knew I was home (at least for the next few months). There’s nothing like chilly mountain air and the inviting glimmer of a river to refresh my soul!
The Roosevelt Arch on the edge of Gardiner greets Yellowstone Park visitors.
It took longer to get into the Park than it did to tour Gardiner, so I decided to face the inevitable and head back to the lodge.
About ten miles north of Gardiner, I spotted the sign and hard-to-miss sea kayaks, put on my best smile and turned into the drive. Ready or not, here I go!
Stay tuned as I meet my new employers, fellow employees, and guests at the North Yellowstone Lodge and Hostel.
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Lonely Planet Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks (Travel Guide)
A Ranger’s Guide to Yellowstone Day Hikes
Yellowstone National Park (National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map)
Yellowstone Treasures: The Traveler’s Companion to the National Park