Thursday, December 30, 2010

Going No Where Isn't Always a Bad Thing!

The year 2011 is around the corner and people all across the country are contemplating what this new year will hold for them. Resolutions are being made, vacations are being planned and goals are being set. Our society is often driven by the notion that each year must be bigger and better than the year before which can often lead  to the classic cycle of "keeping up with the Jones".

But what if nobody had the last name "Jones" for miles in any direction? What if we stopped to enjoy the simple pleasures of each day as they come and stop the constant cycle of primping, prodding and planning? You might just be least for a brief moment!

One day per week I head to the Fishing Bridge Warming Hut located 21 miles north of Grant Village. On a normal day I jump on my snowmobile and push the maximum speed limit the entire way there. I quickly glance at the lake and trees while zooming past them at rocket speed, giving them a mere second of admiration. More often than not I find myself in this "rush-rush, get-er-down" frame of mind- no doubt a recessive gene dating back from my city-girl days.

 But this week, Gaea was intent on making me slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures around me. No more than 5 miles into my travels I could not help but notice a distorted large, none moving brown thing on the ice of Yellowstone Lake. As I slowed down to see what it was I remembered that the other rangers had mentioned a wolf kill just north of us. Indeed it was. A semi eaten Bison with ribs exposed, lie motionless against the stark cold ice. Wolf tracks encircled the carcass while an Eagle flew overhead ready to stop for a free breakfast.  This was no doubt one of  the bison which belonged to the herd that had recently walked 20 miles South through cold and snow, finally taking refuge in the warmth of Pott's Basin. It's whole existence was spent living from one day to the next with only one goal: Survival.

The sight of the semi consumed Bison  did little to stop my determination in getting to Fishing Bridge in record time. I blasted towards Bridge Bay knowing that my final destination was only 4 miles away when suddenly my machine began to slow down bringing me to an unpleasant stop. I started the engine again only to go a few feet which seemed laborious and tiring for my snowmobile. I knew my machine wasn't happy. With a quick SOS call on my park radio help was the way. However for 30 minutes I was left in complete solitude with no one around. The sun was still rising and the dim light made the sky blend into the frozen lake.  I took a deep breathe of cold, fresh air, opened my travel bag and found my steamy thermos of tea. As I sipped the tea and looked around I began to notice things I hadn't noticed before on my drive; Like how the ice forms swirling shapes on the surface or how such intense quietness can make your ears want to play tricks on you.

Instead of being upset at my misfortunate situation I thought about this beautiful view and morning that I was being forced to enjoy. Yes, I had a broken sled but I also had 30 minutes to myself to appreciate where I was.  I looked around, enjoyed the view and happily accepted that at this rate I wasn't going to get anything done today. But you know what? There is always tomorrow and in the words of the great Bob Marley "everything's gonna be alright!"


I wasn't the only one "not going anywhere" in these recent days leading up to New Years. In fact, the herd of Bison that wandered to the Grant area were also in the same predicament. As I pulled into the West Thumb Geyser Basin the following day I was greeted by a small herd of Bison that decided to sleep on the road which leads to West Thumb. Cold and tired they looked at me in disdain and were reluctant to get up and move. For the next hour they roamed around the parking lot not sure of where to go or what to do. For the next 5 days they continued to wander around the area in constant disarray. They roamed around the housing area and stood their ground at the Grant Village junction. They wandered up Craig Pass and checked out the road leading south. Their gigantic patties littered every section of road in the Grant District. With a cold front moving in and temperatures predicted to be in the minus 20's they finally had some direction as they headed for the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Surely the hot steam will keep them warm these nexy few cold night.

Since moving to Yellowstone I have realized that I have become more in-tune with my personal daily cycles and less consumed with what is happening outside my little world. I have no idea what movies are playing in theaters nor do I have any concept of the hottest new items on the market. Rather than planning ahead (like I usually do) I find myself planning each day as it comes because nothing is predictable in Yellowstone. The benefit is that I  am living in the moment and not in the future. With New Year's Day only hours away my resolution is to not have any resolutions, my goals are to live for the moment and take my blessings as they come and my travel plans are to go where the wind takes me- even if it means I am not going anywhere!            

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