Tuesday, 6/12/01 - Live, from Yellowstone, It's the Unexpected!
I woke up early to let the Berts out for their 6am pee and we were met by a deer in the yard, watching our every move. My eyes locked with his and he seemed unperturbed by the Berts who were pretty oblivious to him as well. The moment I thought "I should get my camera," the deer was gone, scampering away quickly on agile legs.
Breakfast was a delicious hot millet porridge with mixed fresh and fresh-frozen fruit such as bananas, apples and strawberries and some just-made almond milk which was really good. Then I got another foot treatment, this time from Katri's daughter Rosita, who told me that the problem with my ovaries and uterus were chemicals. "Do you eat organic?" she asked and I confessed that since I'd been on the road, I was no longer stringent about it. "The chemicals are settling there - you need to eat organic."
After discussing a website with Hans and Katri for their businesses and agreeing to build a few pages for them for a small fee, I went outside to find that the deer was back. It turns out that he had lost his mother in a previous year and was taken in by the Nordblum family who kept him alive through the winter. Now he was wild enough to survive on his own but tame enough to let people he knew pet him.
After some photographs and goodbyes, I was back on the road, retracing my path into Yellowstone again, with the plan to head SouthEast to Cody, Wyoming, a trip that would take me about three and a half hours, tops.
Just to make sure my visit to Yellowstone wasn't totally wasted, I stopped to take some photographs, first at the "Grand Canyon of Yellowstone" which was actually an incredible sight of yellow and red streaked rocks plunging into the depths below where a waterfall crashed into a teeming river.
The second stop was the Sulpher Cauldron, a stinking, steamy pit of bubbling brew. I got back into the RV around 3:30pm, estimating I'd get to Cody by 6:00pm at the latest, and turned the key in the ignition. Nothing happened. What???
I checked everything I knew to check on the engine, thinking back if there were any odd symptoms, anything unusual that happened to the RV recently. Nothing. In fact, I had just hours before mailed a postcard to my favorite mechanics at Fairbanks Dodge in Coconut Creek, Florida who had put in my rebuilt engine back in December saying that the Apache was running strong.
For a minute, I wondered what to do next. Flag down a passing car? Then I remembered that I had greeted an old man who had stepped out of his GMC pickup with truck camper that he'd parked behind me, so I waited for him to return from sightseeing to ask him for a jump start. He was so kind and eager to help, trying all the tricks he knew to figure things out, particularly after the jump start did absolutely nothing.
He took a few guesses at what might be wrong, concluding it was definitely electrical because both batteries definitely had juice. He waited to make sure I could call 911 and miraculously, my cellphone connected and I was able to blurt out my location and situation between static. A park ranger was on his way.
I thanked the old man profusely, and he hung around for a few more minutes making small talk. He was a retired farmer who now worked for a small feed company. He was from Nebraska and encouraged me to come through there sometime on my travels. I gave him my RVGIRL card and told him to get his grandchildren to show him my website. He also told me about a young man he had recently met. "He had been on the road for about six years already. And he didn't wash his hair. He had them in matted ringlets."
"Dreadlocks," I told him, explaining what they were.
"Why would someone not wash his hair? He seemed like a nice enough fellow. And smart, too. I have nothing against long hair, no I don't. But wouldn't the grease bother you after a while?" We chatted some more before he turned to leave.
"Don't forget to visit my website," I called out to him as he got into his truck. He walked back toward me and said, "I definitely will. I want to see if it is the selinoid like I think it is. I'm curious to know!" Then he gave me a big hug, got into his truck and drove away.
About an hour or so later, the ranger showed up and called the nearest tow truck, from Fishing Bridge which was en route to Cody (6 miles from where I was, 81 miles from Cody). An hour and a half later, the tow truck showed up. The two guys inside - Rory and Sam - were young, efficient and good-humored as we drove the six miles to Fishing Bridge at the zooming speed of 20 mph.
Once at the service station, they checked to see if they had a starter for the Apache (Dodge 360 engine) but didn't so said they'd order it first thing in the morning. Then they mentioned there's be snow overnight.
"So you might be stuck here a day or two," they joked.
After hooking up electricity to the RV, they showed me where their dorms were, behind the garage and said to knock if I needed anything, including a hot shower.
I cooked my dinner, cooked for the Berts and we watched a video before bed. I've been here before, camping out near an auto garage, so this wasn't anything new. Little did I know.
Wednesday, 6/13/01 - Dispatch from Yellowstone: Unexpected, Take Two
This morning, I looked out the window at 5am, getting ready to let the Berts out for their early morning pee.
We are now sitting in a WINTER WONDERLAND. I am NOT kidding. This is not a little snow. This is a full-on blizzard with nearly a foot of snow on the cars behind the garage - at least 6 inches on the dog ramp I had put out for the Berts.
Needless to say, the Berts were not pleased to put their dainty paws into the snow. And here I thought I had conditioned them to be hearty outdoors dogs. Chewie peed right next to the RV and Ernie refused to pee anywhere although I know his bladder must be about to burst. (He has since taken one pee under a tree, shivering and very unhappy about it).
The RV is warm, heated by my ceramic heater, but outside, I've had to bundle up to get around without freezing. I'm talking layers, my big snow boots which I've pulled out of storage, my ski cap, gloves and my big down jacket. This ain't no city snow. There are icicles hanging from the Apache roof. The tree branches are bowing under the weight of the thick, powdery snow. The ground is covered with drifts of untouched whiteness. And from the skies, a steady pouring of sparkling snowflakes.
But when I think about it all, I could have picked a much worse place to be trapped in. I'm in Yellowstone National Park with a dead starter and snow everywhere. We're safe, we're alive and we're experiencing nature at its most untamed and unpredictable. And things could be worse: we could be in a tent!