It was October 1968. I loaded my little Chevy up with everything I thought I might need. I bought a warm winter coat and hat and heavy mittens and some boots. I could not knit at this point in my life. I took my sewing machine and sewing tools so I could make some cloths if I needed them. Then I kissed my parents goodbye and headed for Yellowstone Park. I had never driven so far by myself. I had maps of Idaho and Montana so that I would not get lost and off I went. I can’t remember exactly when I got there but I think it was just before Halloween.
I arrived with no idea of where I was supposed to be. I was supposed to report to the Hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs located at the North entrance to the park. I finally found someone who seemed to be expecting me and they set me up in the Hotel for a couple of days and then I was moved to some rooms above the Restaurant where I would be working. There was a girls dormitory above the restaurant. I had a room to myself and then they put another girl in with me. This was another girl that had worked with me in Grand Canyon and I was not to happy to have to room with her. For some reason I got it into my head that I did not like her but I was taught a lesson that if you give people a chance most of the time you can find a common ground. We turned into pretty good friends.
I was put to work as a waitress in the restaurant. I would get up early in the morning and walk across the parking lot to open and it was so cold my nose would stick together and it felt like my lungs would freeze if I breathed too deeply. The roads into the park were closed and everyone was getting ready for winter. Mammoth Hot Springs was kept open to service the snowmobile-rs and the company offered snowmobile tours into the park. Everyone started to celebrate when it started to snow. Without the snow there would be no tours. I soon learned that during the week we had no customers. I would open the restaurant and a few of the Park employees would come in for coffee and breakfast. Then later they would come back for coffee breaks and sometimes we would serve a little lunch and then a few dinners but during the week it was really sloooooooow. Then it started to snow and snow and snow. My poor California car was not used to this cold weather and I am afraid I did not do a very good job of taking care of my poor little car. More about that later.
The Hotel started to bring in tours. Mostly on the weekends. By Thanksgiving we were getting pretty busy. The restaurant would set up a buffet on the weekends so as waitresses we served drinks and cleaned up plates. But there was time to talk to some of the guests it was fun. At one point they asked me if I would work in the bar and serve drinks. There were not enough waitresses that were over 21. I thought, what the heck, it was a chance to make more money in tips. The company hired some of the girls from Gardner, Montana, a little town just North of Mammoth. One of the girls was Phyllis Mack. She worked in the Bar with me. She was always talking about her brother. She thought I should go out with him. It was right around Valentines Day. We had a big party at the restaurant and after we cleaned up she talked me into going with her and some other men down to Gardner to party some more. Please remember I was still a small town girl. I really did not know what to expect. We ended up in another Bar and one of the guys was getting kind of handy. I wanted to go home and he kind of grabbed me and Frank (Pyllis’ Brother) stepped in and told him he would take me home and to leave me alone. I really had not officially meet him but I was grateful that he stood up for me. He took me back to my dorm and asked if he could call me. I said yes.
The season was winding down. I had no plans. School did not hold any appeal for me. I felt like I had no real skills and going back to Cedar did not seem like a very good idea. I did not want to live off my parents. Then some people came to Grand Canyon and said that they were here to offer anyone who wanted a Job in Yellowstone Park they would hire us for the winter in Yellowstone and then we could come back to the parks in Utah as supervisors or managers. That sounded good to me. A couple of the girls I was rooming with said that they would go too. We closed the store and the cafeteria. I headed back to Cedar and started to get ready to go to Yellowstone. My Mother was not happy with this idea. In looking back I think this is about the only time that I remember that she did not support what I had decided to do. I was determined to go. It turned out that the other girls changed their minds and did not go. So I headed off by myself.
I will close this chapter for now. Next the Yellowstone adventure begins.
I left for Oregon on Monday Aug. 31, 2009. Sandra and Max were in Portland right on time to pick me up. We drove to Corvallis and settled in for the night. We traded gifts and Sandra gave me a photo album of pictures that my Dad took of the wonders of Utah. It was so wonderful I was very moved. What a great gift. I have shared these pictures with anyone who will look. She included the poem that Dad wrote called “Color Country.”
On Tuesday we met Sandra’s daughter Tammi at a little pastry shop and had lunch and visited. Then we went to our favorite yarn shop Fiber Nooks and Cranies. I had a project that was giving me some problems so I took it in and they helped me to know how to proceed. We bought a couple of skeins of yarn and headed to the grocery store. We stocked up for out trip to Crater Lake the next day.
On Wednesday we headed to Crater Lake. It didn’t take long before we were heading into the mountains. I love the mountains of Utah and Colorado. The weather was perfect. Not hot and not cold. Light traffic and good company. The vistas were beautiful. I can not describe adequately. I fell in love with the beauty of the Oregon mountains. The more altitude we gained the wider and grander the views. As we approached Crater Lake you could see the evidence of the volcano. There were stark landscapes and few trees. Then we started to climb again and looking out the back of the car it seemed that we were headed to the top of the world. We pulled up to a view area. We had to climb up a little hill but the reward was wonderful. Crater Lake is so blue and a lot larger than I had imagined. The edges of the lake are sheer ragged cliffs. No sandy beaches. Just sheer rocky cliffs. There is a tour boat you can take that sails around the lake. But in order to get to the ship you have to climb down the cliff and then back out. We would not be doing that this trip. We drove on around to the visitors center and bought a couple of souvenirs and took another look at the lake. Then we headed toward Medford. We stopped to have some lunch at a little clearing with some picnic tables. We got out the food and started eating and before long we had some visitors. Small birds appeared and landed on the table and suddenly one of them landed on my hand and took a potato chip right out of my hand. We threw them some bread and chips and they just got more aggressive. We packed up and left.
We headed for Medford to visit with Steve and his wife and little boy. We found our hotel and then went to Steve’s and headed to the Olive Garden for dinner. I was really tiered so I went back to the hotel while Sandra and Max visited with Steve. The next day we went to the “Harry and David” production plant and took a tour and shopped in their gift shop. It was very interesting and they did a really good job of selling their products. We all loaded up with yummy stuff. Then we headed back to Corvallis.
Friday we just stayed home and recuperated from our big trip. Max picked some green beans from their garden and I helped cut them up so they could be bottled. We went to bed early so that we could get up and go the the Temple in the morning.
We headed to Portland for the Temple about 4am. Just as we were entering the temple grounds all the lights went out. By the time we got in the building everything was back to normal. The lights did go off a couple of more times but it really did not cause any real problems. Sandra and I went on a session and after that we did some Initiatory endowments. Then we went to the cafeteria and had some breakfast. Then we did another session. It was wonderful. We had a very pleasant day. It is so peaceful in the temple. It was a very good day.
As we headed back to Corvallis we listened to the Oregon State football game for a little while. When we got back it was almost time for the BYU game to start. Although Sandra and her family are not fans they let me watch the game. Sunday we went to church. We talked to a lady who was visiting and found out that she grew up in Cedar City. We had a good time talking about people we both knew. Just another demonstration that you never know who you might meet at church.
Several of Sandra’s kids and grand-kids came over for Sunday dinner. We had a good visit. It was fun to see how big all the grand-kids are getting. One of Sandra’s granddaughters told me she still had the little hat I had knit for her doll last time I was there. She asked me if I would knit her some socks. I measured her foot and she told me she liked pink and purple. When I got home I looked and found some pink and purple sock yarn in my stash. Perfect.
Monday morning we left for Portland. We took a scenic drive along the Columbia River Gorge. We stopped to see a couple of water falls. Then we had to get me back to the airport in time for my flight. The weather was beautiful the company was interesting and I was satisfied that I was able to make a connection with my sister and her family. They were so very kind to me and did everything they could to make me comfortable. I can not express how grateful I am for my sister and her family.
I arrived back in Utah on time and Jim was there to meet me. It was wonderful to be home.