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 October 22, 2009 at 4:13pm
When I got to Livingston, I turned onto I-90 East, and settled in for a long, long ride. Right away I noticed I had a strong tail wind. I remembered I had driven into a head wind the whole way out, so now it was going to work in my favor. After about 100 miles, I came to Laurel, Montana. That is where I had started my mountain adventures a week earlier. I had stayed at the Locomotive Inn in Laurel, and planned my trip over the Beartooth Highway the next day. This time, I had no reason to depart I-90, so I kept going, now backtracking over my original route.
Comment by Stir Young on October 22, 2009 at 12:47pm
Leaving Yellowstone National Park in 2009 was devoid of drama. I just went out to my Saturn Vue, hopped in, turned the key and left. When we left in 1969, however, it was under much different circumstances.

After Nake totaled the VW Camper, we were offered a 1957 Plymouth for $100, I believe it was, and the demolished VeeDub. The Plymouth had a lot of miles on it, but it seemed fairly sound, so we agreed to the swap.

We decided to go ahead with our original plan of heading to California, and instead of two of us, we would now total four. Billy, a guy Nake worked with at Tar, was heading to the Eureka, California area, to attend Humboldt State. We decided to caravan with him. He was driving an older Ford Pickup, maybe from the early 1960s. Billy also had a cap, of sorts, on his pickup. It was an aluminum covered travel utility trailer that he had found along the side of the road somewhere, with a broken axle. He took the axle off and managed to get it up on the back of his pickup, so he had not only sleeping space, but additional storage space as well.

Billy had arived quite late in the season. He certainly qualified as a "drifter", by Hamilton Stores' definition. He had been hunting for fossil fish in sandstone, somewhere south of Yellowstone Park that summer, and had run out of money. He made it to West Yellowstone, where he was hired, most likely because so many seasonal workers had left. The stores needed help of any kind. Billy was a bit of a dreamer, he talked in a slow measured tones. He was somewhat older than Nake and I, maybe in his late twenties. Nake's boss Eleanor and her husband Larry had no use for Billy, but they needed any warm body they could get, so they put up with him.

Completing our group was Juditz, who worked at the food counter in the Gift Shop in Mammoth. Juditz was also a "drifter". She was from Massachusetts, and had taken a job cooking at a dude ranch in Montana for the summer of 1969. Things didn't work out for her, so she had made her way to West Yellowstone, and found work at Hamilton Stores. She had prior food services experience, and she quickly became a very valuable employee.

Juditz was a bit of a "flower child", she had long straight hair, played the guitar, and mostly dressed in jeans and shirts. She also had a tough side to her, she could be somewhat intimidating to people. She could speak quite forcefully, in her Bah-ston accent.

Juditz didn't really have any plans after Hamilton Stores closed the gift shop for the season. I think she threw in with us for the sake of adventure, mostly.

This then, was the group that left the Mammoth Campground on a cool September day in 1969. Instead of heading north, however, as I was now heading, back then we went south, through the park and out the South Entrance.
Comment by Stir Young on October 22, 2009 at 12:08pm
I got up early on Sunday, August 16. Well, it was early in Mountain Time, but kind of late in Eastern Time. I quickly showered, packed my bag, and vacated my room. No one was even at the front desk yet, so I put my room key in the drop box, got in my car, and started out. It was 6:00 AM Mountain time and 8:00 AM Eastern. The air had a bit of a nip to it, like Northern Michigan in late September or early October. Mother Nature gives the mountains a very nice summer, but it comes late, leaves early, and isn't apt to deviate much from that format. It was also mostly dark.

I headed north on Route 89, for Livingston, and the road was mostly empty. I had about 1600 miles ahead of me, and as much as I had wanted to get to Yellowstone National Park, now I wanted to get home. I had experienced an almost perfect vacation and reunion, but knowing that it was over now, I knew I had a lot of miles and hours of driving coming up. It was best to just get after it.
Comment by Stir Young on October 19, 2009 at 1:28pm
As early evening descended, we all decided to walk over to a restaurant located right by our motel. I need to admit here, I didn't make notes of this, but I'm going to conjecture that it was the Antler Pub and Grill, located in the Comfort Inn.

I think we all enjoyed dinner very much, I know I did when Arky bought for all of us! LOL! Our waiter's attempt at humor fell a little flat, but not so much as to detract from the food and conversation.

We adjourned back to the Yellowstone Village Inn, and shortly thereafter, we broke up our reunion. It had been fun beyond measure, and I think everybody really enjoyed it.

For me, the next day was going to be the start of the three day trip to get back home. I was starting to dread it on one hand, but I wanted to get home too. I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again.
Comment by Stir Young on October 19, 2009 at 1:02pm

I had taken pictures of all the people from 1969 holding the toy VW bus. Unfortunately, the one I took of Mee-Shell didn't turn out very well, so I've used this one which Fooge Brownie took with my camera. Kind of a two for one shot. Thank you Fooge Brownie, for saving my butt!
Comment by Stir Young on October 19, 2009 at 12:57pm

We decided to take this picture with the guys showing how bald they had become in the last 40 years. I guess Arky had lost the most hair, but the beard got him some style points.

At the top: Fooge Brownie
Next row down: Mee-shell, wearing my ratty 1969 hat, and Alice
Second row down: Stir and Arky
Bottom: Ris'Kay

We had a lot of fun reminiscing, and telling the old tales again. As so many of our jobs had been so different, and our co-workers different, it was great to hear stories coming from so many different view points.
Comment by Stir Young on October 19, 2009 at 12:45pm
I returned to the Yellowstone Village Inn. The reunion group was going to reconvene later in the afternoon. I went to my room, but decided to straighten up the inside of my car...get ready for the start of the long drive home the next day. I was rummaging in the back seat, through the open left rear door, when I turned and saw this lady walking backwards toward me, somewhat erratically, like a person who was playing frisbie and moving back. She stopped and went forward again.

I shrugged it off and went back about my business, and she appeared again, again walking backwards. This time she came almost up to me, turned and said Hi, and gave me a hug! It was Michelle, or Mee-Shell, as some of us had called her back in 1969. She was trying to sneak up and surprise me, and actually, she did a pretty good job of it. She had made it to our reunion, and would be staying with Arky and Rhonda. It was so good to see her again....she had been a person that I think everybody liked back in 1969. She was always friendly and gracious to all.

I finished up my car organization, and returned to my room. Shortly thereafter, though, I wandered back over to Arky and Rhonda's suite, and we all sat around and chatted with Mee-Shell.

Not much time had passed when everyone else from our group showed up again, and we assembled for another picture, this time without Diana, who of course had left. Now we had Mee-Shell.
Comment by Stir Young on October 19, 2009 at 12:22pm

What the heck are these things doing here, you may wonder? Well, I forgot to bring them into the thread earlier, when I visited my old dorm/dining hall.

I mentioned earlier, all my free time was not spent carousing and partying. In the summer of 1969, I also built these three wooden wagons from kits that were sold at the General Store. Frankly speaking, there were times when I was broke, waiting for payday, and this was one of my less expensive, albeit less thrilling hobbies. I shipped them home at the end of the summer, and my mother and dad stored them for about twenty years, until I could be trusted with them again, I guess. A couple of years ago I dug them out of my attic, and replaced a few minor pieces that had come up missing or had broke. I also have purchased several of the same and related kits on eBay, and have taken to assembling them. I always liked putting together models, and now I can induge my interests as a retiree.
Comment by Stir Young on October 15, 2009 at 12:22pm
After lunch, Diana and Brian left. I had sure enjoyed seeing Diana again, and Brian seemed to be a great guy. Diana posted pictures of the reunion after she got home, and of course, she had given us each a disc, set to music, with the collage of pictures we had sent her earlier.

A few of us walked to the Recreation Center located behind the hotel. I had been there earlier to take some pictures, and now Alice gave us some additional background on the building. My memory from 1969 didn't even include the building setting next to it, but Alice told us that it indeed was there at that time.

We then split up, with the idea of meeting back at Arky and Rhonds's place later in the afternoon. I wandered into the gift shop and map room in the Mammoth Hotel before I left, and bought a couple of greatly marked down T shirts. Who said there are no bargains in Yellowstone National Park!

Then, for the last time on this trip, I took the one way dirt road back down to Gardiner. And once again, I enjoyed the view as I drove, and once again, I never pulled off to get any pictures.

I exited through the Roosevelt Arch, and headed back to the Yellowstone Village Inn.
Comment by Stir Young on October 15, 2009 at 11:59am

Great people! Alice, Karen and Fooge Brownie.



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