TBD on Ning

Hey, its me, Gary Young! You know, the smart alecky guy who was gonna go out west??? I thought I might try doing one of these blog thingies about my trip to Yellowstone Park and back.

So who is Stir? Well, that's been my nickname since I was in high school. I was originally called "Youngster" by one of my friends, I guess because I only looked about 12 years old when I was a Junior. As time went on, "Youngster" got shortened to "Ster", or "Stir", as I prefer to spell it, and people just ASSUMED that the shortened variety came about because I "stirred" up trouble. Why, nothing could be further from the truth....c'mon, you know me....I'm a peacemaker!

Well, anyway, about 2 years ago, I embarked on a quest to find people whom I'd worked with in Yellowstone Park in the summer of 1969. It became a cooperative project as I found others, and they started looking too. Along the way, we've been able to account for about 12 people, and the idea for an employee reunion came about. That reunion took place on August 14th and 15th 2009, in Gardiner, Montana, and the story that follows will hopefully tell a little about the summer of 1969 in Yellowstone Park, and my journey back there 40 years later.

And just who is that mischieveous looking guy up above? Why that's me, in the summer of 1969, of course.

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Tags: adventure, travels


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Comment by Stir Young on November 11, 2009 at 12:51pm
To properly read this blog, you will need to go to the final page, and start at the bottom and read up. Please continue by advancing backward through all the pages, until you arrive back here at page 1.
Comment by Stir Young on October 27, 2009 at 1:55pm

I'd also like to dedicate this blog to the memory of Judy "Juditz" Sayce. When Juditz hired in at the Gift Shop in 1969, it was quickly evident that her humor and mine meshed almost exactly. We kept in touch, off and on, over the years, and saw each other in 1971, 1977 and 1981. In June of 1994, I got a letter from her mother informing me that Juditz had died in a pedestrian/car accident.
Comment by Stir Young on October 27, 2009 at 1:46pm

I'd like to dedicate this blog to Nake. Here he is with his wife Krissie. We've always stayed in touch over the years, and if the situation is right, we can still cause a little mayhem. I count him as one of my best friends.
Comment by Stir Young on October 27, 2009 at 1:37pm
Its very hard to draw many similarities between my two trips to Yellowstone Park. The first, taken as a young man with little life experience, was born out of the restlessness that comes with youth. As I look back, I'm constantly reminded of how dumb I was in 1969. Nake and I were pretty ignorant to the ways of the world, but we weren't unduly bothered by it. In fact, we probably figured we had all the answers to all questions. The bottom line is, we had fun, and whenever we talk nowadays, there's a good chance something funny will come up about the Yellowstone Trip. I might add, some people accuse us of "telling the same old stories". We prefer to think of them as "classics".

My trip of 2009 came about in different way. About two and a half years ago, I watched a TV special on Yellowstone National Park. That show really impressed me, and something stirred inside me, bringing back memories. I decided to try to find people I had worked with in 1969, and I also hunted for people Nake had worked with at Tower Fall. I basically looked during lunch hour at work, googling people, and finding Yellowstone websites. I joined several social networks. I looked with varying levels of intensity, sometimes putting it aside for a month or two.

I finally found Fooge Brownie and Alice on an unofficial Yellowstone website, and sent them an email. It was returned as undeliverable. I found Fooge Brownie once again on another website for former service station workers in Yellowstone, and this time when I sent an email, he answered right away. Very early in our emails back and forth he suggested we have a reunion in 2009.

We found several people we worked with that summer, one often leading to another, and when we found Arky, things took off. I liked doing the sleuthwork hunting for people, but I knew I wasn't the person to head the reunion. I was happy when Arky took over, its due to him that it came about.

I decided very early on to combine a vacation to Yellowstone National Park along with attending the reunion, and I proceeded accordingly. Nake was very helpful....he didn't end up attending, but he got into the spirit of it, and some of his old stories rekindled my memories.

I still have a bit of wanderlust in me. Other than confirming my reservation to match Arky's at the Yellowstone Village Inn, I pretty much improvised as I went along, and in that respect it was something like our trip in 1969. This time, I paid a little more attention to what was going on around me.

This time, I stopped and took pictures, although I wish I would have been more consistent in that endeavor. On this trip, I paid more attention to nature's natural wonders...back in 1969, I paid more attention to girls.

When I got home this time, I was all enthused to go back next year and find a job for the summer. Now, I'm wondering if that's a good idea. The jobs don't seem to pay much, and they work the heck out of the employees. Frankly, I don't know if up to that anymore.

Right now, I think I'd like to go back next year and spend another week or so in the Park. I experienced so little in my time there this past summer. I have a couple of months before i need to make a decision on that.

There were a couple of things that stuck with me about Yellowstone National Park on this visit.

First, the volume of visitors has greatly increased over forty years. Most of the major attractions were jammed with people. Other than at Old Faithful, I don't remember such a mass of humanity there all at one time.

Second, on this visit, Yellowstone National Park looked a little run-down, like maintenance was being deferred. I saw rotting timbers that needed replacing, painting that needed to be done, and guardrails in need of repair. There were roads that needing tending to.

I came away with the feeling that people should see Yellowstone National Park now, and maybe the other national parks as well. It probably will get worse before it ever gets better.
Comment by Stir Young on October 27, 2009 at 9:45am

....and this time, the VeeDub made it!
Comment by Stir Young on October 27, 2009 at 9:43am

I pulled off at a roadside park to eat. It was a bit windy, but warm, and I ate smoked fish, crackers and drank my Coke. The whitefish was excellent. I walked down to the beach on a stairway, and the view above is what I saw. It was a great setting to stop for a bit, have some lunch, and enjoy the last meal I'd have on this road trip.

I drove a little further east on U.S. 2 and stopped at a place where I could get to the water a little easier, and washed my hands to get rid of some of the fish smell, and hit the road for home again.

When I reached St Ignace I got on I-75 heading south. I crossed the Mackinaw Bridge and entered back onto Michigan's Lower Peninsula. The rest of my trip passed quickly, and by late afternoon, I pulled into my driveway. I had driven 3747 miles on my trip to Yellowstone National Park and back.
Comment by Stir Young on October 27, 2009 at 9:28am
I left Iron River heading for home on U.S. 2. It was my twelfth day away, and I was anxious to get back to my own house. I stopped to gas up in the first town to the east, Crystal Falls. Back in the early 1970s I had made a run up there with a guy I worked with in Lansing, to see his family. I think we hit every bar on the main street on that trip. I remember we both were just blotto!

This time, though, I didn't dally. I couldn't help but notice that there were a lot of newer buildings with businesses, mostly located on the outskirts of the west side of town. I had noticed on this trip, both going west and coming back, that even in little towns, the business districts were moving to the outskirts. And there were a lot of franchises that are seen all over the nation.

Just past Crystal Falls, U.S. 2 dipped into Wisconsin again, before coming back in Michigan, and Iron Mountain, Kingsford and Norway. Once again, these towns had many businesses located away from downtown.

I kept heading east, and came into Escanaba. Escanaba is a true city. Traffic was somewhat heavy to Gladstone, and that stretch was also very commercialized.

East of Gladstone, traffic was light. More and more, U.S.2 would follow the water, first a stretch of Little Bay de Noc, then Big Bay de Noc, and finally Lake Michigan. Between water and woods, it was quite a scenic drive.

I passed State Highway M-177, where I had turned to head up to M-28 a few days earlier, on the start of my trip. From this junction, U.S. 2, heading east, followed the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Its one of my favorite drives in Michigan.

I was getting hungry, and on a whim, I stopped at one of the establishments along side the road that advertised smoked whitefish. It was one of the old style souvenir shops. I bought a two pound whitefish, saltine crackers, a bag of ice to keep the fish cold in my cooler, and a coke, and headed back on the road. I looked for a place to pull off and have a little lunch.
Comment by Stir Young on October 26, 2009 at 2:00pm

Well, here is a picture of my "Suite" at the Bayview Motel in Eureka, California, in September 1969. It was a bit rustic, and there was no view whatsoever of the bay, but it was comfortable enough. The proprietors were an older couple.....very nice people.

I settled into a routine....walking to work for my few hours. The Plymouth was still at Billy's friends' house. I prefered not to think about it, and what to do with it.

There was a grocery store right across the street from me, so I could get whatever I needed. My motel room had a tiny kitchen with a combination fridge and 3 burner stove top. It also had a small table. It had a bathroom with a shower, sink and stool, and a main room with a bed, small black and white TV, space heater, and maybe a chair or two.

Billy stopped by maybe once a week. Life for him was pretty rough. He was sleeping in the pickup, and moving it around campus every night to a different place, so the campus police wouldn't run him out. He wasn't eating very regularly, and he usually smelled when he showed up. One time he showed up and he said he hadn't eaten in three days. He proceeded to eat several pieces of bread with honey and sugar on them. He would get cleaned up, and leave in the morning. He was also rolling his own cigarettes, and just hanging on waiting for his first G.I. Bill check to come.

They weather was turning more fall like as time went on, and it rained often. More than once I was soaked to the bone by the time I got to work. I worked so few hours that I was making just a little less than I needed to survive. My money was going down, very slowly, but it was going down, none the less. I sensed resentment by some of my coworkers at Sears....times were rough in Eureka, and some people didn't appreciate an outsider coming in and getting hours. I also was figuring it out that I wouldn't be kept on after Christmas, certainly not in sales, and probably not as a janitor.

Billy came over one time, and was quite excited...there was an anti-war rally going on in downtown Eureka. He wanted us to go to it. Billy wasn't the fastest guy in the world, and by the time he ate and showered, and expounded on several subjects, we left for the rally. Billy produced a joint and thought we should smoke it before we got there, so we did.

We got to the site of the demonstration, and found we were too late, but Billy spied a cardboard stop sign that spelled out "Stop the War". He said, "Stir get that sign", so I hopped out and got it. Billy had himself a souvenir. I was relieved that we had missed the protest. Although I may have had some personal reservations about us being in VietNam, I had always felt that if we going to be there, we should stand behind our effort.

Another time Billy stopped by and he was quite excited. He had found out that for $45 each, we could get a one way railroad ticket to Guatamala. I asked him what it would cost to get a ticket back, and what would we do when we got there. He didn't like that type of questioning, so he quieted down about that potential venture. Billy always had great ideas of things to do and places to go.

Billy stopped over another time and told me that we had to go get the Plymouth...his friends wanted it out of their yard. We went over there and had dinner with them, got the Plymouth started, and headed back to the Bayview Motel. it was so foggy, I couldn't see where I was going. it didn't help matters that the headlights were aimed at weird angles. I was following Billy, but hardly could ever see him. I made it back and parked it.

After about six weeks, I got fed up with this grand adventure to move to the coast. I was not getting anywhere. Billy wasn't a bad guy, and I didn't begrudge him a little help now and then, but he and I were both on treadmills. Billy finally got his first government check, but he had borrowed so much from other people that by the time he paid them back, he was broke again, with almost a month to go 'til the next check.

I caught a break on the Plymouth. Living in the next motel unit to me was a down on their
luck husband and wife music team. Apparently they played at Holiday Inn lounges and like venues. One day I saw the husband out really looking over the Plymouth, so I went out. He and his wife had no car at all, and he asked me if it was for sale.

Right then, I made the decision to come home. I had an easy way to get rid of the Plymouth. I told the musician that I was leaving to go back to Michigan, and since I knew he was a bit down on his luck, I would just give him the car. He was really happy...he went in and told his wife, and she came out and looked at it, and seemed a little dubious. I told him I'd sign it over the day I left, and he couldn't wait.

The next time Billy came over I told him I was going home. He was a little bit miffed, after all, there went his shower and food rations. He calmed down quickly, though....he knew I had nothing going for me there.

I gave my notice at Sears, and don't really think anybody really cared. That made more hours for some of the other part time janitors. I packed up stuff I wanted to keep and mailed it back home, and condensed my travel gear to a suitcase and duffle bag. I signed over the Plymouth to the guy next door, and Billy took me to the Greyhound Station.

I boarded a bus, and after three days and nights of travel, I was back in Lansing, Michigan.

My great adventure was over.

POSTSCRIPT: I wrote Billy once, a few months after I had returned to Lansing. It took a while to get a response, but eventually he did write back. He mostly related how he was upset that I hadn't stayed in Eureka. I guess my leaving had irritated him more than I had realized. That didn't set too well with me, and I never tried to contact him again, until I started looking for people to attend the 40 year reunion.

To date, I have not been able to locate Billy.....but I'll keep looking.
Comment by Stir Young on October 26, 2009 at 12:25pm
In 1969, we left Billy Clemens' parents' house, and headed for Eureka, California. I'm presuming that we took Route 299 across the mountains. I remember the road to be quite twisting and turning. It was mountain driving for sure.

At a point somewhere nearing the coast, but still with some mountain driving to go, Nake was driving the Plymouth with Juditz riding shotgun. They were ahead of Billy and me in the pickup, and in fact out of sight. Suddenly, we came across them on the side of the road, with the Plymouth nosed up to a tree stump.

We stopped to see what had happened, and Nake was really upset. He told me he wasn't gonna drive the Plymouth anymore, and I'd have to take the wheel the rest of the way. He never did say exactly how he came to rest up against the stump, but I assumed the bad brakes had something to do with it. I didn't press him for any additional information, and to this day I don't know any more about it then I did back then.

So I took the wheel...I don't remember if Juditz or Nake was riding shotgun, but we made our way into Eureka without any further problems.

The Plymouth was having problems...the brakes were almost non-existent by this point, and the worn out engine was getting harder and harder to start. Billy's tire problems on the pickup were of concern too, cord was starting to show on a couple of them.

When we got to Eureka, as Billy was prone to do, he suggested that we eat. He knew of a good Chinese Restaurant. We made our way there, and ate a pretty substantial meal, and after paying, Billy told us he was now totally out of money. I wondered why in the heck we had been eating in restaurants since we left Yellowstone, if he was so low on money. The night before, at his parents' house I had heard his mother ask him if he needed money and he said no.

Billy did have another plan, however, and that was to go down the coast a short way, near Fortuna, I think it was, and stop in to see a married couple he knew there to see if we could crash for the night. Then the next day we could figure out our next step.

First, however, the four of us went to a beach on the ocean. We had made it to the Pacific! However, this wasn't like anything in a beach movie....it was cold, overcast and misty. The beach was rocky, not sandy at all. It seemed like we had missed the California of my dreams by several hundred miles.

I think it was at this point that Nake told me he was going to go back home. Although I was willing to go into this adventure a little further, I understood completely why he was leaving. We really had little going for us, and Billy, although a nice guy and an interesting guy, wasn't going to be anyone we could depend on.

I don't recall now if Nake packed his gear, and we took him to the bus station that day, or if we took him the next day, but off he went, on a Greyhound Bus.

We stayed the night with Billy's friends...they were very cordial. Because of the condition of the Plymouth, I had told Billy I didn't plan to drive it until I could think of what to do with it. The thing scared me to death. Billy asked his friends if we could leave it there for a short while until we found a place to live, and they agreed, although the wife not quite as wholeheartedly as the husband.

Billy had a plan for himself, which he had told us right from the beginning, and that was to enroll at Humboldt State in Arcata, right up the road north from Eureka. He would qualify for the GI Bill, and would get his first check in a month. He felt once he got to that point he would be financially solvent.

Juditz and I were going to need jobs, and we set out to look for them. I had worked in a Sears, Roebuck store in Lansing before Nake and I began this adventure, and so the next day, after staying with Billy's friends, we went to the Sears in the mall in Eureka. I dressed up as best I could, and went in and applied for a position as a sales clerk. I was told that it wasn't close enough to Christmas to hire for that position, but they would take me on as a janitor for a few hours a week until somewhere around Thanksgiving. Then I could get into sales.

I took the job, and I remember that I invented a ficticious address in Eureka to us as my home. As of that point, I had a job but no place to live except the back of a pickup truck.

Juditz went in and applied at a book store in the mall, but was not hired. I could tell her interest in staying in Eureka was waning, and she told Billy and me that she was going to go back home to Massachusetts.

After applying and getting my job, we set out to find me lodging. I had seen a ma and pa type motel on Highway One, not a real long distance away from the Sears. We stopped there and I got a room. It was known as the Bayview Motel, and I think it was about $15.00 or $20.00 a week.

I don't recall whether Billy and Juditz and I all stayed in my new room that night....we may have already dropped Juditz off at the bus station. I made it clear to Billy that he would need to split on the food and rent if he expected to stay with me. I didn't mind the occasional visit, but he would need to chip in if he planned to live there. He said it was too far for him to drive every day back and forth to Humboldt State on the bad tires, so he would take his chances finding something closer to campus.
Comment by Stir Young on October 24, 2009 at 6:15pm
When I went back to the AmericInn, I stopped back at the front desk. When I had checked in I saw a book they were displaying, and I wanted to take a closer look. It was a book on the history of Stambaugh, an adjacent town, which had in recent years given up its status as its own entity, to be annexed into Iron River.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm a sucker for books on local subjects, and I liked the look of this one. When I asked the desk attendant how much it was, she said "she's gotta get $50.00 a piece for them". I assume she meant the author. I couldn't get my money out fast enough, and as I had come to expect in the north, the attendant seemed to be quite disinterested in the whole transaction. She seemed somewhat put out that she had to make change, as with the sales tax, I didn't have the exact amount. I was happy, though, I got my book and headed back to my room for the rest of the evening.



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