Grab some coffee, this is a long one.
You know when you’ve been doing something for so long it becomes second nature, and whatever the activity is seems somewhat easy? How about when you stop doing this activity for a significant amount of time and then try to start again. It feels like walking through molasses with cinderblocks attached to your feet. That’s how I feel right now trying to write a blog post. It feels like trying to find the ground in a deep pool of water.
I’ve been home from my adventure in Yellowstone for over a month, but I’ve struggled to find the motivation to blog. Granted I took a trip to Scotland somewhere in between, but I felt overwhelmed by all that I had to share. When I get overwhelmed, instead of diving in and tackling things I tend to do the opposite. I shut down. Despite feeling overwhelmed, I still had a desire to write and to create.
How could I possible share my experience in a single blog post?
Simply put there is just too much to share from my time working in America’s first national park, but a few moments stick out as highlights. My job itself was nothing exciting, I was a server in the Grant Village dining room. I made a shitton of money, but that was not the goal. I worked my ass off (literally, but a month back home with access to almond butter has brought it right back) with long shifts, early mornings, endless “clopens”, and brutally annoying foreign customers.
“I’d like the BEE-SON (bison) BOUR-GAIR (burger)”
Despite the chaos that was my job, the people and adventures kept me lusting for the weekends. I made lifelong friendships, explored over 200 miles of backcountry trails, went on 32 (35 if you count repeats) hikes, met hundreds of bison and elk, but most importantly I discovered a piece of myself that I knew was missing. My desire to travel and explore was nurtured in a way I hadn’t been able to do before. Spending nearly five months living in a national park is truly life changing.
I saw endless beautiful sun rises over Lake Yellowstone while working morning shifts at the restaurant.
I hiked my tallest peak to date, with three of the best hiking partners I’ve ever met.
I discovered another planet…over, and over, and over.
I made friends with people from all over the world.
I survived the biggest mind game while hiking 20 miles straight on Mary Mountain with my favorite person in Yellowstone. Getting lost over and over again, yet somehow managing to find our way out. Nothing was impossible after this, and there’s nothing quite like being 10 miles into the backcountry before heading towards civilization again.
I saw waterfalls a plenty, but none more magical than Union Falls, and suddenly any hike under 10 miles felt like child’s play.
I drove the Beartooth Highway, one of the most beautiful highways in America.
I fell deeper in love with the Teton Mountains the more I drove past them. Grand Teton National Park was my neighbor, and a common destination for my days off.
I rode a horse through a valley and up steep hills, which was equal parts terrifying and painful. My horses name was Slim Jim, and he pooped a lot.
I swam in the Firehole River, which isn’t actually on fire. Though my chest was from the adrenaline I felt after jumping into a raging rapid.
I learned how to get lost, and not to panic. To trust my instincts and use a compass/map.
I met a bison I named Biscuit, who became the mascot for my adventure. I was then gifted a bison stuffed animal on a very hard work day, which resulted in tears. Naturally I named him Biscuit (jr.)
I white water rafted on the Yellowstone River…twice…for free. #employeeperks
I said a very hard goodbye to my closest friend, that I still miss everyday. Living with people for months, eating together, working together, playing together, and then suddenly leaving is quite an emotional ransack. I’m emotionally crippled, but I’m not as emotionally dead inside as I thought.
It’s not often we find ourselves surrounded by people that are so similar to us, but I found that those who seek out seasonal work have a similar mindset. Sure, we had plenty of differences (I don’t drink, smoke, or stay up late) but we all came to work, and play in Yellowstone for similar reasons. We’re all a little lost, ironically trying to find ourselves by getting lost in other ways.
Leaving the woods and returning to society was hard. It was not only a physical shock, but I felt depressed without the comfort of isolation from society.
I was able to turn my mind off for the first time in years, all I had to think about was “where are we going to hike this weekend?” It was incredibly freeing. I didn’t worry about “what am I doing with my life” or “where do I want to live,” I was given a place to live, and food to eat, and all I had to do was show up. Thanks to my parents instilling good financial habits, I was able to save so much money, still contribute to my retirement fund regularly, all while exploring the world.
It’s more than possible to cultivate a future for yourself without a 9-5 job. It just comes down to preference.
My adventure doesn’t stop here, I plan to do seasonal work until I feel ready to settle down. I found that I was a bit older than most of the people that I’ll likely find in this type of work, but that didn’t stop me from finding a great group of friends. All it takes is confidence in your own lifestyle and people will have no choice but to respect you. I would have never been able to experience Yellowstone the way I did had I not done this, and like any first time, Yellowstone will forever have a special place in my heart.
We do this type of work because we want to live our lives right NOW, not tomorrow. Work and play can go hand in hand, you just have to know where to look.
Grant Village was small, and not a big tourist spot like Old Faithful or Mammoth Hot Springs, which made this the perfect spot for me. The feeling of being submerged in the wild would not have been possible staying anywhere else. I enjoyed walking outside, or walking to work and not running into hundreds of people. Visiting the bigger spots felt like visiting small towns. A smaller location meant the employees became like a family.
This CliffsNotes post barely scratches the surface of my time in Yellowstone, there was obviously so much more. No amount of blog posts will ever capture the magical adventure that was my summer. However, like anything in life, for every moment of magic there was a moment of pain. Stressful nights of endless tables, managers and employees not showing up to work, foreigners that didn’t understand what it meant to tip (I’m still salty that I got $0 on a bill that was over $200.) Seasonal work is not for the weak, but once you know…you know. I now understand why people return year after year.
In the words of a woman from a 1990’s documentary I watched in the Grant Village Visitor Center, “it’s just so, Yellowstone.”
53 thoughts on “It’s Just So, Yellowstone”
AMAZING! I am so glad you had such a wonderful time filled w/ awesome memories! Thanks so much for sharing – I sooo want to visit there someday! 🙂
You must, MUST! It’s a park unlike any other I’ve seen. There’s a reason people travel from all over the world to visit.
That must be such a great experience and memory creator.
Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for reading!
Another planet indeed. That’s how I describe Yellowstone to people, too.
You have afterglow. That’s what I had after my bike trip across the country this summer. And nearly four months later I still have it. Whenever stress tries to grab hold, I think of buttes, turquoise lakes, millions of evergreen trees, and the amazing people I met along the way.
May your afterglow remain.
I’d invite you on a bike tour but I don’t know where I’d put the chickens.
The afterglow, I like it! I don’t think I’ll be around long enough to commit to any bike tours anyway, I’m on a bit of a roll right now!
I wrote about it last August. https://rootchopper.com/2018/08/
Your photos are amazing. You always take the best trips and I’m glad you take the time to share them with us!
Thank you for always reading! I enjoy reliving the experiences when I write about them. ❤
What a fantastic life experience! You’ve been on quite the journey and I’m happy you are finding your niche. I will be returning to Yellowstone. I don’t think it’s possible to “see it all” though it sounds like you may have come close. Journey on!
It’s definitely not possible, but I saw a heck of a lot more than I would have if I only visited for a week. So much endless beauty! I see why families vacation there year after year.
AHHHHH-Mazing! The pictures are incredible so I can’t even imagine how awesome it was in real life! What an incredible experience! ALSO so glad you are back on le blog – I’ve missed you! xo
I’ve missed you too!! And I’ve missed writing. ❤
Good to see you back and posting pics, reflections, and humor! ❤ ❤
Thank you, it’s good to be back!
Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your adventures and your gorgeous pics. LOVE Yellowstone and the Tetons!!! I was only there for about a week and it made a huge impression on my soul forever… can only imagine what this experience gave to you. And you will have that for life! =)
Thank you! I will surely return one day, it was such a great experience. There is just so much beauty to see!
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What a beautiful experience and breathtaking place! Thank you for your sharing – I would love to visit one day and you’ve reminded me why!
I think everyone should visit Yellowstone at least once in their life, if not many more times to fully experience the wonder!
I’VE MISSED YOU!!! LIKE CRAZYYYYYYY!!!! ♡ Sharing the special moments that touch our souls, even just trying to find the words to describe them in conversations (let alone a blog post for anyone and everyone in the world to see!), is no easy task… And often feels completely unachievable. For you to share all of these gorgeous photos and thoughts is so, so special. Thank you for doing that! I’m incredibly happy for you that your summer fulfilled your soul and brought you so much peace. (At least, that what it sounded like reading between the lines! 😉) I’m so proud of you and truly inspired by how you’re following where your heart and soul lead you, rather than trying to fit into society’s usual “norms.” You’re such a gem Brittany!! ♡
AMY! I have missed you too my friend, I think about you often! I definitely had my moments of WTFFF while away, but that’s with anything in life. The overall experience was definitely peaceful for my soul!
I’m glad you made it on here to write this post and share a bit of your adventures (and the beauty! Such beauty!!!) If I ever meet a bison, I’m going to believe it’s name is Biscuit. Thank you for sharing Brittany. It inspires me to get out there sometime in my life.
YES! They are all Biscuits to me now. 🙂
One word…AMAZING! What an experience and some gorgeous photos to remember it by! 😊
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YASSS! Back to your roots – BLOGGING. I need more Brittany on the Internet, like where I first found you! Now I am wondering if you found my blog or I found yours. I am sure I found yours cause I am a stalker, but I am so happy I am a stalker because otherwise, what the heck would we be?! Ha! Speaking of happy, I am so happy you went through with this Yellowstone experience!! And I love that you think back on it happily (for the most part)! This has only opened more doors for you and your future and I am so pumped go “go along with you”!!! Also, this post was slightly bitter sweet for me too because I don’t foresee myself going back to Jackson for a VERY VERY VERY VERY long time (honestly, if ever?) thanks to no longer being a WY resident. Well, I mean, I have been a Cali resident for the last like 8 years, but you get what I am saying!
PS: You take the most bomb photos EVER.
You found me, and I AM SO THANKFUL TOO!! I don’t know how you did it, but lord almighty would I be list if you hadn’t! I miss Jackson too, all the damn time. I only got to briefly experience that beautiful place!! Only you know the darker sides of Yellowstone, but you’d better believe hindsight really is 20/20!
My favorite national park, and I’ve been to a ton of them. It just gets under your skin, doesn’t it? Loved reading about your experience — even if it was the Cliff notes. – Kat
YES! It will forever have a huge piece of my soul.
I get what you mean about feeling overwhelemed when you take a break from something for such a long time, and then find yourself going back to it only to just not know where to start! But I am so happy you had this experience, and your outlook on seasonal work and making it work for you is just awesome.
I definitely don’t see myself as someone who can settle down in one place for long. I never thought I’d say it but LA is definitely getting pretty tired…I’m ready for a new adventure in a new city, haha!
I see you in another big, fun city! Nothing is impossible.
I know exactly what you mean with feeling overwhelmed and freezing when facing diving back into a creative outlet. I’m glad you pushed through and blogged because this post is beautiful. Not just the pictures, but your words and experiences. I can tell this was life changing in the best way and I can’t wait to hear more about it and your future seasonal work!
Love the stuffed bison 🙂
Thank you friend, it felt good to come back and write!
Fantastic post! I have been wondering how your job/adventure went this past season. If I could only talk to my 20 year old self, I would do this exact same experience. For now, I tell my kids to seize life now like you are..
YES! You are fostering a great life for your kids, nothing is impossible!
Love Yellowstone!!! Thanks for the stories and pics!
Thank you for reading!
I just finished reading this post and I’m not sure where to begin. Howabout with, Yellowstone is absolutely one of my favorite places on Earth. I’d not been since I was a child (I’m 65 now so that tells you how long it’s been) and then 3 years ago in early October I brought my wife there. It reminded me why Yellowstone is absolutely one of my favorite places on Earth.
You wrote, “This CliffsNotes post barely scratches the surface of my time in Yellowstone, there was obviously so much more. No amount of blog posts will ever capture the magical adventure that was my summer.” Yep, it is huge and so magnificent and so amazing that once you’ve been, if you’re like me, you can’t seem to properly describe what it’s like. Words and those things that are supposed to be worth 1000 words always fall short. You almost feel that you need to shake the listener and say, “No you don’t get it.” How do you describe the grandeur of the canyon and the many falls or the smell of a mud pot or the hiss of a steam vent or the rushing sound of Old Faithful? You can only understand Yellowstone by having been to Yellowstone. Maybe there should be an I’ve been to Yellowstone club that one can only join after having been.
One of my regrets as a parent is that I never brought my children to Yellowstone. I’ve been dogging them to bring their children. I think my kids are in the “No you don’t get it” category. I’m thinking that I might just do it myself so that my grandchildren don’t fall victim to the same procrastination that befell my children.
I’m envious of your experience as a seasonal employee and the mention of your 70 year old colleague gives me hope. Your story reminded me of a movie I saw a few years back called Unbranded in which 4 young men trained some mustang horses and then rode them from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. Everyone should have an experience before they settle in to life.
Your images are beautiful and delightful and your writing style is witty and engaging. You have a gift. With your permission I would like to reblog your post (once I figure out that reblog thingy).
Finally, thank you; for sharing your experience and for visiting my site. And thanks for you patience with this overly long comment.
Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment! You’ve said such kind words. Seasonal work is really an amazing experience, and there were plenty of retired folks there, including an 80 yr old man that worked as a host in the restaurant I worked! You’re still young and it’s NEVER too late! Yes of course you can reblog, thank you!
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These are wonderful places 😍😍😍
I miss this place so very much.
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I’m so glad I found your blog! We are on a road trip right now and are discovering some of the same places. I am closer to your friend Gail’s age and only discovered hiking about a year ago. Every hike is a discovery of sight and self.
Oh how I miss Gail. She is such an amazing woman and she hikes like crazy. It’s never too late to start! Have a blast on your road trip!
I went to Yellowstone for the very first time last fall and it changed me. Reading this post gave me all the feels, so I can only imagine how you feel when you look back on your time there. I’ll be going back in September and I cannot wait!
I completely understand what you mean when you say “it changed me.” I relate more than you know.
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