October 20, 2022
This week I took it a little slower. I finished working on the backlog of photos I needed to edit and enjoyed some extra reading while getting caught up on chores. Here are some of my keepers from my trip to Willis Creek Narrows last week. There is always something captivating about a lone tree.
I’m beginning to make friends with more of the newer workcampers here. Cohesion is forming in our bonding process with the current crew. It feels nice. Most of those working here right now say they will be back in the Spring for the next season so that’s fun to look forward to. Luke and I went to a pizza/good-bye party for one who is leaving today. We all shared some funny stories and got to know each other a bit more. I decided to plan another game night for next week. There were a couple of people who also like to play Pandemic that agreed to join. I may see if the pub can host us as they have a big table and it’s getting cold outside here when the sun goes down. There is starting to be this feeling of nostalgic sadness amongst the workcampers and managers here. We all know that what ended up being a great crew and second season at this campground will come to an end soon and most will go their separate ways for the winter. I do hope that many of them return next year, but who knows. Life happens and moves you in unexpected ways sometimes and I bet it’s even more common for the lives of nomads to shift without plan. We are all beginning to anticipate a good thing ending, at least for a little while.
Luke and I finally rented a PO Box out here. It wasn’t expensive and we didn’t want to have to rely on the one remaining Yonder employee to get our mail over the winter. While we were there I asked the postal man what winter is like here. Without hesitation he said, Oh, I love it”. So of course I asked him why and his answer was because all the tourists are gone and so they have the area all to themselves. There seems to be a love/hate relationship with the tourism industry out here. Similar to the push and pull we have seen in other small towns where we have gotten to know a few locals. They want the town to survive and thrive without increasing their tax burden and they want their businesses to be successful, but that often involves growth change, and letting several new people in. These things are always hard for people. Another local guy we talked to is planning to start a D & D game out here. I’ve never played before, but Luke has so we said we would join him.
Luke has been picking up his guitar to get his fingers back in shape and see how many songs he remembers. He’s talking about maybe joining the open jam at the pub in town after our park shuts down and I don’t have to work on Saturday nights anymore. He’s also been working on a reel for Yonder. I helped him shoot footage this week on one of my days off. We had fun with it. A guest even asked if she could join in just when we needed extra people so she signed a release and became part of the crew for the afternoon. He captured some really cool footage of us all hanging out at the lodge by mounting a 360 camera to a zipline above us. I’ll share the link here once the video is complete though he’s still planning shoots and collecting footage so it may be a bit yet.
For our doggie outing this week we took a drive down Smokey Mtn. Rd in Escalante. This is another one of those dirt roads that goes for 78 miles and of course it’s scenic. To be honest with you, I’m not even sure if there is a mountain down this road. I’ve been told it is named such as there is a vein of coal going through the area coloring the cliffside grey, but we haven’t noticed this yet. Either we don’t really know what to look for or we just haven’t driven far enough down the road yet to see it. We did see more leaves that had turned yellow which is so pretty against the rocky landscapes here. Mostly I just took photos of Luke and the dogs though. Dobby is such a different dog when we bring him out in the wilderness. It’s so fun to watch his immediate transformation to going from a nervous and reclusive dog to a happy carefree puppy.
I also finally used my relaxation time to complete my absentee ballot for South Dakota. Voting is important. You should all be sure to do so. Additionally, I completed my online training videos and quiz to be a trail ambassador volunteer for the Grand Staircase Escalante Partners. I have to complete at least 4 field days within a year in which I either spend a whole day on a trail or at a trailhead taking down stats and info, keeping it clean and most importantly helping to provide education and information about the area and how visitors can minimize their impact during their visit. The training videos actually taught me some things that will change my behavior. For example, I learned why you should avoid campfires or only have them in designated campsites. I also learned more about cryptobiotic soil crust and how insanely long it takes to grow back if you mess it up by walking on it. This past week, Luke said to me, “everything is alive”. I am beginning to understand what he means by that. There are symbiotic relationships with all types of organisms everywhere. Think about that at least for a moment the next time you see something interesting off the trail and want to go take a closer look. It is always better to stay on established trails when you can or at least within a wash, on rock, or on a game trail where the soil and organisms under your feet are less delicate.
To feed my brain this week we have watched some documentaries on quantum mechanics, the world of mushrooms, and one about a man named Ram Daas. I give them all high ratings. I also love the book I’m reading, Born to Run. Many had recommended this book to me over the years and I finally got around to choosing it. If you have not heard of it, this book is about an isolated tribe of indigenous Indians in the Copper Canyon of Mexico. They are called the Tarahumara and they are most known to be super athletes that can run for hundreds of miles at a time wearing only sandals and eating a primitive diet. I am not yet finished with the book and already am thinking I should ditch my insoles and go barefoot as often as possible in an attempt to cure my years long plantar fasciitis and nerve problems in my feet. If you also like to read you should give this book a try. Perhaps I will adventure more next week. We shall see. We’re all working hard on the last weeks of the season here to ensure it ends on a high note.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.