“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” Baba Dioum
Well, I'm sorry to announce, I have moved out of my van. An opportunity came available that I just had to take.
Living in my van, I was living in Colter Bay, 33 miles from work. It took me between 45 and 60 minutes to get to and from work everyday. I was spending up to $200 in gas a month, and wasting a lot of time.
Around mid-June, a room became available to me in employee housing. It would only cost me $200 a month, which is what I had been paying in gas, and it is only 5 miles to work. I could bike to work if I was a motivated person. I now live in Beaver Creek, an employee only area inside Grand Teton National Park.
I decided to move in for many reasons, the top three being:
- I wouldn't really be paying much more money on expenses.
- I would have a refrigerator to store food!!
- I would have an extra 1.5 to 2 hours free each evening after work
It seemed like a pretty good deal, and it turns out that it has been. I live with three people, one is a roommate. (2 bedrooms, 4 women) They are all super nice. This is the first time I haven't had a really annoying roommate that everyone hates, or lots of general roommate problems. I'm sure I just jinxed myself and they'll all start tomorrow. It is amazing though, because I was convinced that being in such a small space (I've never shared a room before) it would be worse.
I think it is just the type of people you get for the type of job. All three are park rangers. Rangers are people who enjoy the outdoors, the environment, animals, and nature. They typically are not very vain and high maintenance. They are able to get dirty. They're just good people, who care about the planet and all the things that encompass it. That type of person is a good person to have as a roommate.
I share my room with Monica. She is a 25 year old from Wisconsin (lives 2 hours south in Wyoming for 2 years now). She is a teacher-ranger-teacher (TRT). She teaches elementary music during the school year. In the other room is Elaine. She is 45 and from Maine. We were all weary of a 45-year-old moving in, but it has turned out great! She is also a TRT. She teaches high school..umm...I don't know what subject...during the school year, and usually is a Ocean Kayak Guide most summers up in Maine. The last roommate is Erica. She is a 23 year old from California. She grew up near the Red Wood trees, and is a geologist ranger who loves dinosaurs.
The TRTs both have short seasons. I think just 10 weeks. Their last day is August 6th already, and they were the last to come! Erica is here through the end of September, and then it is just me until the end of October.
I’m sure you’ll hear more about them from me over the rest of the season.
I spent my first month and a half of the summer (following my week of being homeless) in Colter Bay, Moran, WY. My brother works in the park, and with his dog, they don't allow him to have park housing. So he had an RV site, and told me I could park there.
Before actually moving to Wyoming, I thought since he lived in the park, and I worked in the park, it would be a short commute. I was not expecting to drive 45-60 minutes one way every day. This is the main reason I eventually moved, but I had a great time during the month of May!
The best part was that most of the touristy things (grocery store, restaurants, campground, visitor center, etc.) didn't open until after May 23rd. I had almost an entire month without tourists! On my days off, my favorite thing to do was spend time down on the beach. I laid on the beach for hours and hours, reading, ogling the rocks, staring at the mountains, or napping. I never saw a single other person. It was amazing. I became more tan during May than I have been since my high school tanning bed phase.
The beach was just a short bike ride, probably about 1/2 mile, down the road.
My brother and I had opposite days off work. So when I was home, I had to entertain the dog, Spruce
I let him out to wander the site on his long leash, and occasionally was nice enough to take him on a walk. I didn't appreciate when he pooped in other peoples' yards though, and I had to clean it up, so I mostly left him in our site to poop and leave it for my brother. Spruce, oddly enough, is the first dog I've ever walked (as far as I can remember) It seems like such a common thing, but I (and my parents) don't like inside dogs. Growing up, our dogs lived in the garage and the yard. Unless I'm volunteering at a shelter, I plan to never walk a dog again.
I made a lot of firewood during this month.
My brother had a small hand saw, and I wanted campfires! There was some wood around our site and left by the campfire ring, but that didn't last very long. I made a campfire 3 nights a week (the three nights that I didn't have to work the next day-Saturday, Sunday, Monday). I had to start searching for downed and dead wood. I had to drag trees from all around the campground back to our site to cut up. Sometimes I took the saw with me to cut the tree in half first.
I ended up with lots of wood, and when I left in June, I left my brother with a lot of it.
I loved cooking in the campfire. Potatoes and green beans is what I cooked almost every fire. Yummy.
My favorite part of the fire is when it is dying, and there are just super hot coals left, after a couple hours of burning. I can just stare at them for an hour, before finally freezing and retreating to the warmth of my van.
I never had a refrigerator the whole time I lived there. The one in my brother's RV was broken, and I don't have a break room at work. I really missed refrigerated food. I was able to keep a few things in a cooler for most of May though. Thanks to the snow pile that was hanging out next to my van.
It eventually melted at the end of May or beginning of June. I tried taking ice home from work with me, but it was too hot by then, and melted way too quickly. Refrigeration was the 2nd main reason I moved in June.
We got a lot of snow up in Colter Bay. My brother failed to warn me of that. I had my parents mail me my mittens from Ohio to keep warm. Luckily I packed a winter hat, and bought myself a new super fuzzy sweat shirt to make it from my van to work in the mornings.
On the days it didn't snow, it started to rain a lot towards the second half of May. My brother raked up all the pine needles to keep them off his dog, so our entire site turned into a huge mud pit when it rained. My van was parked in the lowest part of it, and I could barely get into and out of it. So when my brother brought home some free pallets from the lumber yard, I turned one of them into a porch. I re-nailed all the boards on the top to make it solid, and bought a $12 rug from K-Mart to cover it.
I started collecting rocks to fill in around it where it is all mud. I ended up moving before I collected much more than this though. It would have been awesome to have a stoned site. Different from gravel, because these are the gorgeous round rocks from the beach.
I parked my van on the side of the site that was closets to the back of a cabin next door. Some old lady moved in. There are a few words the average person would call her, but I'm going to skip those. The short of it..she wanted to sleep in until noon, and didn't like the fact that I had to leave for work at 5am. She complained that my van door was waking her up when I went to work in the mornings. She's probably never seen a sunrise in her life. I was not on my brother's housing contract, which only listed one person living there. I didn't want the old lady's complaints to get him in trouble, so that's another reason I chose to leave.
Here are a few more photos of my time in Colter Bay