Commencement

It’s Saturday, it’s snowing, and I’m at work. Today has been a pleasant contrast to the hectic days I’ve had since I’ve been back at work.

The Jeop Desk is officially coming to a close next week. Our last day together is March 1st, which is Tuesday. After that, the other CSSC people and I will be part of the IHD team (escalations team, support for sales people). The other people from other departments are either going back to their regular jobs or being put into new positions as the fiber technical support team takes over the work that the Jeop Desk has been doing.

This last week, it’s felt like we’re graduating from high school: everyone’s moving on to different things, our time together is limited, and we’ll never be together in a group like this again. I haven’t spent too much time dwelling on it, because I know it’ll make me sad. I’ve made a lot of good friends and learned a lot since August, and even though we always knew it was temporary, I didn’t know just how bummed I’d be to see it go.

For myself, I feel that if this were high school graduation, I would be one of the ones looking forward to a bright future, moving on to exciting things. There is talk of me transitioning from Jeop Desk to IHD permanently, not just for March, and I’m beyond excited. Almost a year ago when we moved here, I applied for IHD and didn’t get the position. If I do now, then I’ll have accomplished a goal. I will have proved myself.

I feel confident that good things are on the horizon for me. In the last seven months, I’ve found out what it’s like to both excel at and love my job. I wake up in the morning and get ready, without the pit of dread in my stomach knowing that I’m going someplace I can’t stand to be. I enjoy my work now, and I get satisfaction from it.

Things are good, and I’m optimistic that they will only get better.

Vacation Part 2

Vacation has come and gone, and I went back to work today. It seems the beautiful snowstorms of Montana have followed us home to Washington, and Puget Sound was hit with flurries off and on since we’ve been back. I have to admit, I love the pretty snow, although I do get a bit less thrilled when I have to sit in my office and stare at it with barely a glance outside when I could be outside playing in it, or sitting in a cozy chair sipping tea and daydreaming while gazing at it. The one time I stopped what I was doing today to watch the snow fall, my trainer H quickly intervened and had me back to work. Tomorrow I have to go in at seven-thirty, and next week Paul’s schedule is changing completely and he’ll work 4 10’s, with his days off being Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday. So, yeah, back to reality.

The trip was amazing. We took the snowmobiles out by ourselves on Thursday and Friday. Thursday, we didn’t really have a clear idea of what trails we would take, and we ended up having to turn around quite a few times. Completely by accident, we ended up at a little roadside diner for lunch. The lunch was delicious, I got a basket of chicken strips and french fries. The food was warm and filling and made me cozy as we got back on the snowmobile and rode back into the forest. By Friday we had our bearings and didn’t get lost as much. We liked the diner so much that we went back again. Our evenings were spent relaxing in the indoor hot tub, getting nice and warm and letting the jets massage our feet.

On Saturday, we had a day to just kick back, sleep in, and do some laundry (because we wore such heavy clothes, we decided it would be better to pack lighter and just wash clothes). We talked about going on an afternoon drive, but we were both feeling lazy and ended up just kickinbg back. We spent a blissful afternoon lounging in bed, watching reruns of “Friends”.

Sunday we were back in adventure mode, and boarded a snow coach tour that took us on a day trip to Old Faithful. Since we had done the route already, on the snowmobiles, I was a little worried that it would be a repeat of what we already knew. I was pleasantly surprised that Doug, our tour guide, was very focused on geology and taught us a lot about Yellowstone that I didn’t know before. Now I know that the park was the very first national park that was established (okay, a lot of people probably know that already). The park was established all the way back in 1872, when most people had to come in on stagecoach. The railroads started transporting passengers to Yellowstone, and luxurious hotels were built to house the rich travelers. One, the Fountain Hotel, was built in a clearing and had warm water, due to the thermal features of the Lower Basin. When the hotel was no longer deemed safe structurally, it “mysteriously” caught fire (luckily, all the furniture had been removed beforehand!). We learned that eighty percent of Yellowstone is covered in trees, and of that, eighty percent are Lodgepole Pines. We learned that the proper name for elk is wapiti, which means “white butt”. If you see an elk, it’s true. We learned that the thermal features in the park cannot be named after people or ideas, but must have descriptive names. Rivers can be named after people….the Madison River, for example, was named after James Madison. But thermal features have to have names that describe their unique features.

There’s a lot more, those were just a few of the interesting things that we learned when we were on tours. All three of our tour guides were awesome! When we took out the snowmobiles the first day, we had a guide named Cynthia who was both very good at making sure we were comfortable driving the snowmobile, but was also very knowledgeable about the park, its history, and its wildlife. On our first snow coach tour, we had a sweet man named Old Tim as a guide. He’s lived in West Yellowstone for over sixty years and he had a wealth of knowledge about the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (which he took us to tour), and points beyond. We got great experiences from all of our tours.

The trip was so fun, I’m incredibly glad we got to do it together. I feel so close to Paul after getting to spend an entire week together, no work, no stress. We were truly the best of ourselves on the trip, relaxed and having fun.

A Vacation Kind of Post

I haven’t written in this blog in awhile, so I decided to get back into it by writing about our recent trip to Yellowstone. We had a really great time on our trip!

We started our vacation on Sunday, the day before Valentine’s Day. We drove east, taking in breathtaking views of Snoqualmie Pass. Once we got to the other side of the pass, the landscape became very familiar, very high desert…much like Victorville actually. It was a bit boring to look at, not what I think of at all when I think of Washington state. I’m so glad we live in the Puget Sound area and not further east.

We had lunch in Spokane, at Chili’s (yay Southwestern egg rolls!) and then continued on to Idaho Falls for gas. I haven’t really spent any time in Idaho, and I didn’t on this trip either. Before I knew it we’d crossed over into Montana. We stopped for the night at a Holiday Inn in Missoula, then found a yummy little hole in the wall Mexican place that was very generous with the tequila in their margaritas.

On Valentine’s Day, Monday, we slept in and found a local diner that served us fabulous bacon, as well as french toast for Paul and eggs for me. We began driving across Montana. The state is a pleasant mix of pretty mountain areas and flat grasslands. We stopped for lunch in Bozeman, and found a Johnny Carino’s, which is another one of my favorite restaurants. There’s one in Mt. Vernon but we don’t get up that way very often. We split a family-portion of Spicy Romano Chicken so that we would have leftovers to eat for dinner, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, got a raspberry tiramisu to split for dessert after dinner.

After about another eighty miles of windy, riverside road, we made it to West Yellowstone. There isn’t much open this time of year, but I did spy a few restaurants and stores with their ‘Open’ signs lit up. We parked and checked into our condo and hauled our massive load of stuff up to our room. Our room is fabulous. It has all this cool woodsy-looking furniture (which was actually made in Seattle, go figure), and lots of nice comforts, including a full kitchen so we could prepare our own meals if we didn’t want to go to a restaurant.

On Tuesday, we had our guided snowmobile tour. Not gonna lie, I was nervous. I’ve never driven a snowmobile before and I was intimidated. Paul and I went to the office of the tour we’d chartered, and once we’d checked in the staff began outfitting us. I’d had no idea this would be happening. I’d worn warm clothes: thermal shirt and pants, jeans, hiking boots, sweatshirt, and heavy jacket. We were provided with snow suits that were a lot like the one-piece driving suits my brother wore for drag racing, as well as helmets, heavy-duty mittens, and boots. I hadn’t realized how warm the suit would be or how little I would need my jacket, and we put our coats in the back of the Jeep. Our guide was Cynthia, a smiling woman who knew her way around Yellowstone and around a snowmobile. She walked us through the operation, and it was actually remarkably easy.

Paul drove first, and we headed into the park. Not too far into our ride, we spotted some elk on the bank of the Madison River and pulled over to look at them. Once we were back on the trail, we spotted a bald eagle sitting in its enormous nest. Cynthia told us that the eagle was about four years old, then asked us how she would know this. Paul correctly answered that she knew because the eagle’s head was white, and eagle heads do not turn white until they’re about three to four years old. He grew up around eagles in Washington so he knows this stuff. I was just impressed to be with the person who knew the right answer.

We quickly discovered that we would see a LOT of bison in Yellowstone National Park. See, bison seem very unfazed by snowmobiles, and are content to lumber on down the road whether there are vehicles present or not. Cynthia would guide us to either ride past them, keeping very close together, or to stop and get off our snowmobiles, standing on the opposite side of the bison and keeping the machines between the animals and ourselves. We had a few opportunities that day to put these instructions into practice. I was in awe of the bison. They are truly amazing animals, and up close, I could really tell how big and powerful they are.

We stopped for a quick lunch and a viewing of the eruption of Old Faithful. I’d never seen a geyser go off before, and was pretty impatient to see this one. When it finally launched water in the air, I was amazed at this natural phenomenon. Old Faithful is way, way better than the fountains at the Bellagio, to say the least.

After Old Faithful it was time to make our way out of the park. We did make a detour to see a waterfall off of the Firehole River. It was a sunny evening, perfect for seeing the waterfall. After that we continued on the main trail back into Montana (most of our park viewings were in Wyoming), and back to the rental store.

Our first few days of vacation have been amazing. I will continue writing about the trip soon.