Thoughts from a college student at the University of Florida with a summer job in Mount Rainier
- As you all know by now I am working in Mount Rain...
- Day 18 – A Slight Promotion and Another Busy Day
- Day 17 – A Creative Solution and Staffing Woes
- Day 16 – Opening Day
- Day 15 - Mock Dinner and Snowshoeing
- Day 14 Continued – Ruined Plans
- Day 14 - First Mock Meal
- Day 13 - 30th Anniversary of Mount Saint Helen’s E...
- Day 12 – First Day of Work
- Day 11 – Ending Location – Mount Rainier National ...
- Day 10 - Ending Location - Packwood, WA
- DAY 9 – Ending Location - Spokane, WA
- BISON OR BUFFALO - DEPENDING ON WHAT YOU WANT TO C...
- DAY 7 & 8 – YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
- Day 6 – Ending Location - West Yellowstone
- Day 5 – Grand Teton National Park
- Day 4 - Ending Location – Jackson Hole, WY
- Day 3 - Ending Location – Cheynne, WY
- Day 2 - Ending Location – St Joseph, MO
- Day 1 - Ending Location – Berea, KY
- Last Day in Tennessee
- Trip Woes
- ▼ May (23)
As you all know by now I am working in Mount Rainier National Park. If you don’t, are you actually reading this blog? But what is Mount Rainier National Park?
Mount Rainier National Park is the fifth oldest national park in the country behind Yellowstone, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia. It was established on March 2, 1899 by President McKinley. So the park is 111 years old.
The park contains 368 square miles or 235,625 acres (about a football field). Congress has declared hat 228,480 acres of the park as wilderness. The park has over 260 miles of maintained trails (including the 94 mile Wonderland Trail), and 147 miles of roadway (not all paved).
Each year the park is visited by 1.5 to 2 million people. Most visited between June and September.
As the name suggestion Mount Rainier National Park, is focused around Mount Rainier and the surrounding glaciers. Mount Rainier is 14,410 feet above sea level and is an episodically active volcano. Episodically active means that it will erupt sometime in the future but is quite right now. Mount Rainier is the tallest volcano and the fifth highest peak in the contiguous United States. The last estimated eruption was between 1820 and 1894. Mount Rainier is covered in 35 square miles of permanent ice and snow.
Today’s dinner service was about as busy as yesterday’s without the large parties. Again I was bussing tables. Bussing tables might seem like a demotion from being a hostess but its not. For the most part hostess don’t get tips while the bussers are tipped by the servers so that means that I am making my hourly wage plus tips which means that I will make more money.
My roommate and I are still going to Seattle we are just leaving latter than originally planned. Tarra and I are no longer going hiking together because she is working Tuesday.
On another note, my cough has almost cleared which is a good thing, I was getting worried.
I am working on a entire post dedicated to the people I work with so you might know these people I mention and a little bit about them.
The Daily Mount Rainier Picture, note how different it looks from yesterdays.
Yesterday, my black dress shoes had caused my feet to hurt due to a combination of hours on my feet and very hard insoles in my shoes. I was getting ready for work, when I thought about my hiking boots having very comfortable insoles. So I took my hiking boot insoles and put them in my work shoes to help stop my feet from hurting.
Despite the snow, the Saturday crowd was fairly large. Most of the people who drove up are either climbing the mountain, serious hikers, hotel guests, or on one of the many tour buses. Ok, so those groups of people are kind of obvious. Most the climbers and hikers start early in the day so they don’t eat in the dining room. The guest and tour bus people have three dining options if they didn’t bring their own lunch: the dining room, the Jackson Visitor Center Café, or the Hotel Café. Most people choose the dining room, because it has real food and a nice atmosphere. Today, we were really unlucky at lunch because all the tour bus people had brought their lunch and we spent most of the lunch standing around doing nothing.
So lunch was very slow, but things were looking up for a decent dinner service. Of the 121 rooms in Paradise Inn, 52 were booked. Dinner service started off with a large party of 10 people and a couple of tables of four. It was enough that we were not simply standing around but not overwhelmed. This changed very fast. Suddenly we had a line out the door, a party of 10 people, a party of 8 people, and like 8 other table come in with in a like 15 min span. On staff we had 3 servers, 2 bussers (I was busing), a hostess, a bartender, a cocktail server, and the assistant manager. We were not equipped to handle this many people in this short time frame. I was literally taking orders, delivering food, and filling water glasses. I did not even have time to clear tables when people left. Finally, things slowed down but we were still busy. After all the customers left we had to change the dining room over for breakfast which means setting up the buffet, removing the table cloths, and resetting all 50 tables. For the buffet, they build this Volcano, basically a ring of rocks with a can of heating gel in the middle and berry compote on top. I have been the designated Volcano builder, since it has to be a certain height and be flat on the top. All this work took us about an hour and a half so I didn’t get off work until 10:30 p.m.
On suggestion from my mother here is the new daily Mount Rainier Picture. Note how lovely the mountain looks today.
Today was the big day, the opening of Paradise Inn. We opened at 12:00 p.m. Our first lunch service of the season was very slow but we served about 50 people despite the fresh layer of snow. I spent most of lunch standing the dining room door being bored. We finished service a 3:00 p.m. and I was working the dinner serve at 4:45 so I didn’t have a lot of down time between shifts, so I didn’t do anything fun. At dinner, the one manager was going to give me the time off because we did not need all three hostess working for such a light service. His reason for giving me off was that I did such a good job at the other big dinner serve. I avoided this by following one of the more experienced servers about and learning from this while helping to bus tables. This means that I not only got paid my hourly wage but also will get some tips from the servers for busing the tables.
According to management, I will be getting wireless internet access here at Paradise sometime within the next two week. I am not sure, if it will happen but one can hope.
Today was our last day of mock meals. I was working lunch and the big dinner with a lot of executive staff and other important people. I got up and walked outside to go to work and found there was six inches. I repeat SIX inches of new snow on the ground. I was under the impression the snow was melting away not adding new layers.
Lunch went off without any major disasters. After lunch, I was eating with another hostess, Libby, and a waiter, Tim. Tim wanted to go snowshoeing before dinner shift. I agreed as long as we were not going too far. We decided to do the Nisqually Vista trail which is a 1.2 mile loop.
Since the trail is buried under about 5 feet of snow on average, the park rangers had put up poles to mark the trail. Tim and I decided to do a little of exploring and went off the markers. We found the valley where the Nisqually Glacier was located. So we did significantly more than 1.2 miles, but it was still fun. I learned two things on this adventure: 1. I am still not adjusted to living at 5400 feet above sea level and 2. snowshoeing is much harder than it looks. I didn’t take any pictures on this trip because I didn’t want to risk a camera on my first snowshoeing trip in Mount Rainier.
Dinner service consisted of seating 50 people. The two others hostess, Libby and Emma, and I seated all 50 people. Then we had nothing else to do for the rest of service. Libby and Emma disappeared (I later found them in the bar, probably goofing off). I pretty much kept busy busing tables or delivering food. I tried to always be doing something. Both the managers and Wes said something to me during the night about how good a job I was doing. My motto was always be doing something useful or be looking for something useful to do.
After I finished uploading my pictures and these blog posts, I was going to hike two very short trails and take pictures, Twin Firs Loop (0.4 mile) and Trail of the Shadows (0.7mile). About the time I got the last post completed, it started to rain. Now I know some of you would say a little rain never hurt anybody, but keep in mind that the temperature was about 40 degrees and a strong wind blowing. In addition, I still have the cough I mention (it still has not gotten better). I decided that I would just head back up the mountain instead of hiking.
One thing I have learned on Mount Rainier is if it is raining in Longmire (the other big tourist area in the southern half of the park and the closest place to get internet) it is snowing in Paradise. Sure enough it was when I got back to Paradise it was.
The mysterious bird I wrote about last time is called Steller’s Jay (Thanks to my mom’s BORROWED bird book).
For the fourth day in the row, I have not been able to see the top of the mountain.
May 18, 1980 Mount Saint Helen’s erupted. It has been 30 years to the day. It was slightly weird to learn this. It reminded me that I am living on the side of a dormant but still possibly active volcano and surrounded by several more.
I did not however get to go visit Mount Saint Helen’s today. I had the corporate training to attend. It was the usually company stuff: company background, harassment information, and diversity training.
I have gotten to know much of the dinning staff. At this point, I know almost everyone’s name. The staff is really cool and a great group of people. I am looking forward to working with them.
On another not, I want to section hike Wonderland Trail and have found a couple of people willing to hike different sections with me.
A couple of days ago, I told you about this cough I have developed. It seems to be getting better but very slowly. I think it hurts less to cough today than yesterday, and I am coughing less frequently.
Today was the big day, the day I completed my cross-country trek. I know most of you thought I was crazy for taking the job in Mount Rainier. I also know that even more of you though I had lost it when I decided to drive there. Well to all the doubters, I did actually make in across the country without a major incident. The drive was long, but worth it. I saw more of the country then most people have. I stopped and explored things that most tourists missed.
I got up to Paradise and the first thing I saw was the snow, it is over 25 feet deep in some places and is everywhere. I walked into Paradise Inn and immediately meet the head of Human Resources. He was nice and started me though the check in process. Once I got checked in, I was assigned my room. My roommate had gotten there last week and already started work. I didn’t meet her until later this evening.
Later that night, I was hanging in the downstairs lounge when the power went out. Which is apparently a fairly frequent occurrence; the dorm has its own emergency generator so we at least had back-up lights to read by. As more people got off shift, I got to meet a good percentage of the Paradise Inn staff including the contingent from Singapore and the two Columbians. We spent the rest of the night talking about the differences in the three countries.
It is kind of amazing that I am almost done with my drive. Once I got of the interstate 90, and on to the U.S. highway that would take me to Mount Rainier, I stopped at some overlooks and took some pictures of Mount Rainier and the other various sights. Such as a waterfall.
I checked out of my motel and headed out of town. I got about a mile out of town when I realized I forgot to get gas so I had to turn around and go back to West Yellowstone to get gas or I wasn’t going to make in to the next town.
The driving was pretty uneventful and the scenery was similar to what I had been seeing since I got into Western Wyoming, with less snow. I was getting excited because my GPS was showing the state border approaching. I thought I was about to enter Washington, somehow I forgot about the Idaho panhandle. I got to the state line, checked my GPS, and it was showing Oregon. “I am confused I thought I was entering WA.” This was one of my more blonde moments.
I choose the wrong day to go to Spokane, WA. Apparently there is this huge martial arts tournament going on and three-quarters of the hotels I called were full or only had a couple of rooms left for an outrageous price. Finally I found a hotel with a room at a reasonable price.
- Can weigh up to 2,000 lbs
- Can be the size of a small car a.k.a similar size to my Honda fit
- Can run over 30 miles per hour
- Injure more people than bears almost every year
Since I only had two days to explore Yellowstone National Park. I had to pick and choose what activities I wanted to do carefully. So my activities were carefully planned to get the maximum viewing for my time.
I have decided since there are so many things to tell about Yellowstone. I am going to break each thing into its own post such as an entire post is going to be devoted to bison (buffalo). Keep an I eye out over the next couple of days for these various posts.
Today started just like yesterday with a later then normal start. The only difference was that today was on purpose rather than an accident. First thing I did was pack up my bags and check out of my hotel. For there, I drove into Grand Teton for my final adventures there.
I was sitting in my car, scanning this field with my binoculars and didn’t see anything so back my car out of the space and notice 5 or 6 birds follow my car out. I had never seen any birds like these so I had to stop and take their picture. These birds had been clearly feed my humans because they came right up to meet. As I am taking their pictures, another car pulls into the parking lot, this is not just another car it is one of the park rangers. The ranger gets out of his vehicle with a angry look towards me. I am thinking, “crap he thinks I am feeding the birds”. Once he steps out of the vehicle the birds take off toward him hoping he will feed them since I am not. As they fly towards him, he realizes that I wasn’t feeding them; I was just taking advantage of the opportunity to photograph them. The ranger walks over to me and we chat for a little bit. Since I didn’t know what type of birds these where I ask him, and he tells me he has never seen them before so I get out my BORROWED bird book (Mom at least I am using it regularly and you now have an excuse to get a new one). I find out that these bird are called Yellow-Headed Blackbirds (though this name is very obvious I still had to look).
P.S. Pictures are coming just bear with me.
P.S.S. Do NOT expect a blog post tomorrow. I am staying at Old Faithful Inn and will not have internet access.
P.S.S.S. I have add a page on things I have learned that I will update as I learn new things. Click Here
Today was my first day in Grand Teton National Park. My day started later than I planned, due to my sleeping though my alarm. Thankfully, I didn’t sleeping though the whole day, I only slept until 9:00 a.m. I got the park and my first stop was the visitor center to see how the road conditions were. I asked one of the rangers about a good 6 to 8 hour hike that I could get to in my without four wheel drive and snow tires. He suggested the Jenny Lake Loop to Hidden Falls. He told me the roads that were open were snow free, so I would be good on that concern.
I drove out to Jenny Lake and immediately encountered snow on the hiking path. I have never experienced hiking in snow and needless to say I was underprepared for the difficulties in hiking in snow and 7,000 feet. At certain points I was knee deep in snow.
- Moose – 3
- Elk – to many to count over 100
- Otter – 2
- Wolf – 1 (A ranger confimed this was a wolf, it was wearing a radio collar)
- Muskrat – 1
- Coyote – 2 (I am not entirely sure they were not wolves but coyotes are more common)
- Bison – 15
- Many types of birds
Sorry about updating a day plus a little late, but I was exhausted yesterday and fell asleep sorting my 370 pictures.
B. Jackson Hole, WY
Last night my mother told me about these interesting rock formations called Vedauwoo. I decide since I was about 3 hours ahead of schedule I could afford to stop and see the rock formations. There was only one problem; I couldn’t find directions on how to get there on the internet. My mom told me they could be seen from the interstate so I watched for the formations. I could see them just off interstate, but had no idea how to get to them until I saw the next exit was for Vedauwoo Road. I got off the interstate and discovered an amazing place.
After Vedauwoo, I got off the interstate and continued my journey on one of the US highway (I am not sure of the number). This was an amazing drive starting with the crossing of the Continental Divide - twice. From there, I drove though the most amazing rolling hills that slowly turned into mountains or large hills. One of my favorites was the Split Rock.
From Split Rock, the terrain continued to get more rugged and I started to see more of the local wildlife. The two big ones were wild horse descend from the original Spanish ponies and Pronghorns. Finally I entered the last leg of this stage of my cross-country trek. The only places that stood in my way were the Shoshone National Forest and Teton National Forest. As I started into Shoshone I started driving up the large mountain. The higher I got the more snow appeared on the side of the roads. Thankfully the roads were cleared. At some points there was about 5 feet of snow on the sides. About 40 miles from Jackson, the sun was shining and it started to snow. Yes, SNOW. It was gorgeous, nothing interesting happened in the Teton National Forest. After leaving both forest, I got my first view of the Tetons of this trip. In reality this is my first view because I don’t remember the last visit. I stopped to take some pictures but my timing was bad since I was on the east side of the mountain and the sun was setting behind where I was shooting.
If you want to see my most of my pictures, please see my facebook page here.
Updated Cop Count:
Kentucky - 5
Indiana - 6
Illinois - 0
Missouri – 7
Iowa – 1
Nebraska – 3
Wyoming – 4
Overall, the driving was good I only drove 9 hours today with about 7 hours on the agenda for tomorrow. The wind was less of a consistent issue today; however the road contentious were worse. They were worse in the sense that the road was not smooth and this meant that my car would make funny noises due to the road. At one point I got on the interstate and was going to get off at the next exit to figure out what was causing the loud funny noise, but it stopped right after the road surface changed.
Yesterday, I posted the cop count, here is the updated list:
Kentucky - 5
Indiana - 6
Illinois - 0
Missouri – 7
Iowa – 1
Nebraska – 3
Wyoming – 0
My mother felt a little left out with me starting this blog and posting my thoughts so she decide to start her own blog. Which can be found here.
Her latest post claims that I STOLE several items from her. I quote “The dastardly child has stolen my only i-pod cord, a new jar of peanut butter, and 2 boxes of girl scout cookies (thin mints no less).” I feel that it is necessary to refute several of her claims because I did not steal any of those items.
- The iPod cord was an accident. It got mixed in with some of my other cord and got packed.
- The jar of peanut butter was a swap. I got a new jar of peanut butter and she got the jar of peanut butter back that I stole when I went to college (is might have less peanut butter in it, but I can’t remember).
- Ok, I did steal some Girl Scout cookies but not 2 boxes of them, it was a HALF box. My mother is getting old and can’t remember that she ate the cookies and is trying to blame me.
B. Goal – Sweet Springs, MO
C. Actual – St. Joseph, MO
Today was a long day. I drove just over 11 hours for Berea, KY to St Joseph, MO. My day was supposed to be Berea, KY to Sweet Springs, MO, and 9 hours of driving.
It summer vacation and I am still getting up before 10:00 a.m. Though it didn’t help that Haleigh had class at 8 something, so I got up with her and left just before her class started. I made really good time until right before Lexington, KY. Everything was going great until someone ahead of my slammed on their breaks and brought both lanes of traffic to a screeching halt. Thankfully, I had left plenty of following room and was able to stop safely. I look-up into my rear view mirror and the guy behind me is looking scared and looks like he is going to rear-end me. As I was watching him try to stop all I could think about was “not my new car” and “please don’t hit me I have barely gotten to use it.” By some act of God, I wasn’t rear-ended. Looking back, I should have been less worried about my car and more worried about how I was getting to my job if my car got wrecked. But I was fine and so was my car so everything was good until I entered Indiana. Once in Indiana, the wind picked up with gust that could push my car around. It was kind of scary getting knocked about and watching the tractor trailers get battered around too.
St. Louis, MO was a disappointment. I wanted to stop and take pictures of the St. Louis Arch from across the river, but there was no were to pull off or an exit that a sign pointing to a observation deck, so I didn’t get any pictures. After, St. Louis, the driving nice, except for the wind gusts and the dark ominous sky, though it never did storm.
Another intresting thing I found was the cop count in each state:
Kentucky - 5
Indiana - 6
Illinois - 0
Missouri - 5
I never realized how much work went into planning any trip. I am having some slight issues with figuring out how I am going to drive across country and visit my best friend, Mammoth Cave National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park along the way.
I finally figured out how to drive across country. I decided that I would rather have the extra day at home so I decide to skip visiting Mammoth Cave on this trip. Here is the plan:
- 06-May-10 – Visit Best Friend
- 07-May-10 – Drive
- 08-May-10 – Drive
- 09-May-10 – Drive
- 10-May-10 – Grand Tetons National Park
- 11-May-10 – Grand Tetons National Park
- 12-May-10 – Yellowstone National Park
- 13-May-10 – Yellowstone National Park
- 14-May-10 – Drive
- 15-May-10 – North Cascades National Park
- 16-May-10 - Arrive at Work
Besides trouble packing, I have been having issues deciding on what sleeping bag, do I want. I am having issues balancing weight with the temperature rating. I think I have decided to go with a 15 or 20 degree bag depending on price.
In other news, I finally got Verizon to send me a replacement phone. It only took four trips to the Verizon store and one phone call.