August 18, 2010
Yellowstone National Park:
(Excerpt from Talking with Fear about Dying Tomorrow)
I woke up with the sun again, surprised that no one had woken me or left a ticket on my car for not paying. My routine has become second-nature when I get up:
1. Remember where you are.
2. Make sure you're right about that.
3. Roll up sleeping bag and mat.
4. Take off rainfly and put it on the bench to dry.
5. Wipe dew off tent with towel.
6. Take tent down and roll it up.
8. Make sure you haven't lost your keys.
I wanted to stay another day at Yellowstone because it was $25.00 for 7 days, might as well.
Fell asleep writing that last night - continuing to write in Butte, Montana.
I decided I'd go down to the south entrance to pick up cash to fulfill my I.O.U. to the park and fill up on gas. I wanted to ensure my spot at the most northern camp, Mammoth, so I could get a move on to Butte early. I arrived around 11:30am and got a nice spot with an amazing view of the mountains. I decided I was going to just relax in my purchased area until the nice light was about to come, say around 3:30 or so. I was starving and disoriented from the heat, and the last thing I wanted was another Cliff bar. I decided to try out mac'n'cheese and to make it more substantial, add a can of salmon and some saltines. I find getting hungry really annoying on these trips, so making the meal last is very important. As the water started to boil and I poured the mac in, I soon realized that I had no utensils to prepare or eat this meal. My stirrer was then my aluminum cup and my fork was the rear end of a ballpoint pen. I mixed together all of the amazing ingredients , scooped a helping with my cup and shoveled it into my mouth with the pen. Probably the most primal behavior on the trip so far. I sat and read until around 2 when I set up my tent because the wind was picking up and I wasn't sure if it would get better or worse by the time I got back. It turned out to be neither, but I really just hate having to do work at night when I really just want to relax over cigs and box wine. I set up the tent extra securely and headed to the near town to fill up on gas and grab a plastic fork and spoon, then headed on my drive. My plan was to go to Old Faithful because I could see people saying "well how couldja miss Old Faithful! You were right there!" But I went to the Norris Geysers instead. It was a good long walk through all the different paths and incredible scenery. On my way back to the car, there were a number of people complaining about the Norris Geysers not being impressive enough and deeming it a waste of time. On that note, I was satisfied with my decision and headed back to camp for sunset. It got more and more hazy as I headed back which turned out to be smoke from a forest fire in Idaho, over 70 miles away. I had been collecting kindling all day to start a fire of my own, no lighter fluid, a self-test that I was set on completing. I had bought a can of mushroom soup for a dollar when I got gas and utensils. Starting the fire was strangely easy, probably because of the dryness of the weather, but keeping it going with the strong winds was frustrating. The flames were blowing in all directions but up, so my baby food-looking and -smelling mushroom soup remained cold. I eventually got it going and heated the baby food. I was hoping warming it would change anything about its features but it didn't, so I turned it into a pile of saltines with a little bit of baby food mushroom flavor. It was just barely not disgusting, or that's what I told myself in order to consume it. I hurried on to the ritual of wine and cigs to compensate for the upsetting baby food experience. Then I went to a slideshow about stars put on by the rangers of the park that I shouldn't have gone to, mainly because the audience was made up of 4-year old; but I guess it fits well with the night's theme of baby treatment. One of the uniformed rangers baby-talked us through the constellations and I headed back to clean my dishes. A man and his boy came in while I was cleaning and he began asking me questions about my trip as he held his boy up to the urinal's height and did his best to direct his son's unmanned steam of pee. "Did you hear that Mitch? This guy doesn't have to ask anybody when he wants to do something, he just goes and does it on his own." He turned to me and excitedly told me a story about one time in Washington, D.C. where he didn't spend one of the days on the trip with his wife and how amazing it was, how freeing it was. He kept then insisting that I go to these showers that were in the middle of the park; I don't remember his directions because I was distracted by wondering just how dirty I looked. I passed out in the middle of writing and woke up with the sun again. Except, this morning, the most amazing thing happened: no dew! It was so awesome. I packed up my home in half the usual time and took off for Butte.