Yellowstone National Park for Strangers

Imagine the warm glow of a wilderness campfire after a long day exploring some of America’s best backcountry terrain. Or, the pastel palette of a sunrise sky on the morning before an afternoon float along a raging river.

The American West is full of places, on the map and off the beaten track, that turn imagination into reality. Yellowstone National Park is the most iconic destination for rookie travelers and die-hard thrill-seekers alike.

If you’re a stranger to the majesty and beauty of the mountains, valleys, waterways and great heights of America’s oldest National Park, here are the most compelling reasons to get acquainted.

It’s a bucket list check mark

Of the 58 National Parks in the United States, Yellowstone is the best. Don’t take it from me. Just ask any of the 4.25 million people from all over the world who visited the park in 2016. Boasting some of the most diverse backcountry on the planet, Yellowstone is a top destination for people looking to check a box (or two) off the old bucket list.

A big draw for visitors of all stripes is the sheer amount of things to do and see. Whether it’s a day trip to Old Faithful, an hour of horseback riding, a few days backpacking and paddling, or a whole summer watching wildlife, there are countless itineraries and destinations for everyone.

Yellowstone National Park spans Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Chances are, there’s an adventure appropriate for you in every one of them.

It’s itinerary friendly

The logistics of what to pack, where to stay and how to coordinate getting from landmark to landmark can be daunting. For strangers, the sheer size of Yellowstone National Park can be enough to opt for a smaller, more negotiable outdoor experience. The reality is, Yellowstone is very manageable if you take the time to plan and stick to an itinerary.

Hiring a guide or joining a guided adventure tour is good advice for newcomers looking to maximize miles while minimizing hassle. For those seeking a getaway from civilization, group travel might seem counter-intuitive. The truth is, an experienced leader can take you farther off the map than you’d be able to get on your own. Yellowstone terrain is impressive but massive and dangerous. If you’re faithful to your plans, adventure companies can help you realize them by providing necessary gear and delicious meals, saving you enormous time and energy for experiencing the best of what the park has to offer.

It’s a lesson in humility

Yellowstone’s major geological features are the result of its 3,468 square miles mostly situated on a volcano. Its thermal features are unmatched. Nowhere else in the world is it possible to visit as many different types of hot springs, geysers, and mud pots. If you’re no stranger to that, then consider its delicate ecosystem of animals and plants not found anywhere else in North America.

Yellowstone National Park changes from season to season. A summer visit may be unrecognizable to the returning visitor the following winter. The scenery may seem a green paradise of forest, meadows, and flowers in the spring. The same spot in autumn might be blanketed in early snow, in the company of grizzly, moose, elk, and bison. Respecting the flora, fauna, and animals is a practice in humility. Remember, you are in their backyard.

Don’t be a stranger. Plan an adventure vacation of a lifetime in Yellowstone to witness Mother Nature in all her wildness. It may be your best chance to experience a top-notch National Park, untamed and teeming with natural life, spectacular landscapes, and unbelievable adventure.

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fashionassignment.

i am ashamed to admit how much i concern myself with my outward appearance, and more specifically what people think about it-about me.  judging by my usual daily attire someone might think that contrary is true, but it isn’t.  i welcomed this assignment as an excuse or perhaps a justification to wear what i truly desire to wear…this time armed with a “valid explanation” as opposed to “just because i feel like it.”

i learned some startling things!  the main point being that my choices are not actually that outrageous.  i wore some large earrings, big rings, a cowboy hat, various spirit hoods, a shorter skirt than normal… and instead of strange looks and judgement from strangers i was met with…compliments.  that’s right!  compliments.

i remember once, long ago when i was in high school, speaking with a good friend of mine and telling him that by the time i reached the age of 23 i would be able to wear large outrageous earrings.  back then i had one particular pair that remained hanging on the rack unworn because it wasn’t “right” or “appropriate” to wear them yet.  i longed to be 23 for this simple, silly, sentiment.  of course, once i reached the age of 23, fear and intimidation still got the better of me, and my outrageous and amazing earring collection continued to grow…but remained unworn.  i loved them but i felt silly.  someone might think my earrings were too fancy, too strange, too over the top…

fast forward.  what the *#&$@*@#$#&!*#$!& am i waiting for?  an invitation on a silver platter?  when i wore my “exceptionally large” seashell ring, my 8 year old piano student told me he “loved it” and that it was “beautiful.”  when i wore gigantic peacock feather earrings to another student’s lesson, she could barely focus on the piano she told me, because she just wanted to look at my earrings.  i didn’t feel like a fraud wearing my straw cowboy hat (i’m not really a cowboy…am i allowed to wear this hat?), no one said anything and that was fine with me.

a month or two ago i bought myself an extravagant gift.  a (faux obviously) leopard shawl.   i love it.  that is an understatement.  i LOVE it.  that’s a tiny bit better… i wear it around the house every day but i rarely ever would wear it in public…until this week that is…and i’m happy to say that when i finally did, people loved it!  strangers commented, “how cute!”  “where are you going all dressed up?  i hope to something fun!”  it made me feel great!

what prompts this desire to hide?  it’s really unnecessary…and now that fall approaches and the temperature is dropping, i will wear my leopard shawl every day because I LOVE IT and i’m going to keep telling myself that i really don’t care what you think until i finally make myself believe it.

 

fashionssignment…

submission for the adventureclubinteractive fashionssignment. by- Courtney

“Forseeing all kinds of adversities, she taught her to communicate in sign language, an indispensable strategy in forbidden love.” -Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Fashion is sign language.
(I struggled to reach this conclusion.)

At first, this week, I tried too hard, striving for an adventure that was real deep, and was beginning to feel overwhelmed by all things fashion. Trying to be, wear, create, look, and appear in fashion– was supposed to lend me clues as to- what’s the meaning? what’s the essence? what’s the point of this? Right?
It started in the mornings in front of my closet thinking, I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to sort through old clothes or makeup my face. I don’t even have time to part my hair on the other side! I’m running late…
By the end of the week, sorting through the photos I had taken of unadventurous appearances made in unexciting outfits, I was ready to confirm my fashionssignment attempt a failure. A flop, like the droopy wetsuit I wore this week at the beach for one of my infrequent attempts at surfing. My surfing attempts are always a lot of fun. I don’t hang ten, so to speak, but I’m starting to…hang. So- wait, I’m getting to something- because what comes first anyway? Wearing the wetsuit and going surfing or surfing and having to wear a wetsuit?
Another example, suggestive of an eventual overhaul of the whole staring at the closet in the morning with indecision and feeling that fashion makes for pressure to make a choice: the T-shirt I chose to wear on Tuesday (photographed above.) I chose to wear it because I rarely wear things with slogans, words or brand names branded. Plus, Stephanie gave it to me and we both agreed that we weren’t sure what it entirely meant. It wasn’t what I had in mind at the outset for the assignment, of being adventurously fashionable, so I felt half-hearted in my attempt that day. Now, interestingly, to me the T-shirt words slogan make a little bit of sense based on how I have come to twist the logic of this whole endeavor. I got a lot of compliments on it. I think they were compliments inspired by confusion, but that was satisfying because that’s how I first felt about it too. Somehow I projected a conversation here and there by what I was wearing. Somehow I was noticed for what I was wearing. Somehow that was more significant than wearing something for the noticing… See what I’m getting at?

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Another item I considered a part of the fashionssignment experience is a string of mala beads that were a special gift to me. I wear them very often and hesitated about including them for the assignment. While not an outrageous, exotic or extremely trendy as a statement- the necklace is an important fashion for me because it’s personal, precious and actually functional. (Mala beads are used for meditation.)

2014-09-14 10.51.45Finally, I took a picture of a pair of shorts that I bought this week at the $2 thrill store. It’s a clothing store that- you guessed it- sells everything for $2. Lately I have had a hard time “dressing up” more which was what I imagined this assignment might encourage me to do a little more, but there really never seemed a good reason to do so. What does that mean anyway…what is a good reason to worry about what you’re wearing? Aside from required uniforms and dress codes, what compels us- as adults- what to wear where, and why we wear what?
I have a hard time with jean shorts because they’re getting shorter and I’m getting older. And they change but they’re always still just denim cut-offs… It troubles me that you buy them brand new but they’re worn out with holes and they’re still just as expensive!  And if- as I suspect we all tend to agree- fashion is a function of your age and is measurable by affordability as much as creativity- I wonder when I’ll just give up altogether, as I fear it will no longer be appropriate to wear what I wore when I was younger and I will no longer be able to justify buying the latest, that to me seems like the same old thing but a little less. I bought them for $2 because they fit and practicality wins again. Fashion must take a back seat to function. For thirty hours a week, I work with dark brown coffee and bright white bleach. For thirty hours a week, I prefer to wear the $2 version over the $200 version.

Fashion is a sign of the life that you live. When you have time to try and experiment with the clothes and accessories you own or seek to buy that’s great. When you do not take the time to make fashion a conscious choice, that’s fine. You still have it; your fashion never fades.
I believe that fashion is an expression of a style you already have. It’s a personal language. Words express thoughts from the inside out. Fashion expresses style from the inside out. I truly believe that style is as unique to an individual as their thoughts, beliefs and feelings.  I don’t believe you can judge someone based on their fashion. It’s like taking someone seriously more for their words than their actions. It’s an illusion.

Fashion is a lagging indicator of style. Fretting about being fashionable is a waste of time. Fulfillment is in doing what you need to do and getting it done, as well as doing what you want to do and enjoying it fully. Deciding what you need to wear for the occasion is an easy decision when the occasions are fulfilling. When I’m in wetsuit I speak the dialect of waves and sand, cocktails and sunsets. When I choose to the same piece of jewelry everyday it’s not for anyone else to get tired of looking at and seeing me in, it’s because I can look at it tirelessly and see myself in it. The cheap long jean shorts work so I’m not worried about ruining something worth ruining at work. And it translates to working with one less thing to worry about, so I work a little harder.

 

first line, last line- story II

first line, last line-2

T-Bone may he rest in peace

The idea was to promote and advance political reconciliation through broad participation by all sectors of orangutan society.
I was skeptical from the start.
As usual, T-Bone grunted.
He’ll never change, Roxy groaned.
No surprise! Even Dots and Dandelion, the rookies in our habitat, expressed their opinions.

Some things never change. But I wait to be surprised, for better or worse. I exist for the surprise. I live in anticipation of it. However skeptical I seem to the rest of them, and despite myself, I am hopeful. Someday the keepers will come up with an idea that sticks. They’ll stop using words like promote. (They can’t promote for us. When will they figure that out? We promote from within!) Someday the keepers will untangle the process of evolution from the notion of advancement. (Why do they think they can force us to advance? And to where, for what and why?) 

Small changes do occur over time. With this particular idea, once implemented, the changes were uncomfortable for us. For example, all of us (orangutans and keepers) were well aware that Rosie and Roxy did not enjoy each others company. The idea forced the two of them to not only share habitat viewing hours (shifts of four or five orangutans placed in main area for zoo visitors to watch through glass windows) but also to share sleeping dens at night (three orangutans per den). At first that was kind of humorous. We chuckled and snickered and teased T-Bone to no end about his sleepless nights, having to share the den with this unfortunate pair. But as time passed, the situation wore on and the jokes grew tired. T-Bone grew extremely tired. Rosie and Roxie were supposed to be participating. They were getting nowhere with that. Any day now, the idea would soon be scrapped as a failure, we were sure of it. But it didn’t and everyone grew weary. Someday the keepers will realize that reconciliation is not a procedure and that (at least for us) it cannot be planned. When T-Bone’s tiredness turned into illness, our weariness turned into madness.
I was still skeptical, maybe due to my own weariness.
He’s going to die! Let him out of that den! Kokoman raged.
Let us all out! Hairy Larry rallied.
Stop fighting you two! Dots and Dandelion begged Rosie and Roxy.

Some changes are made too late. T-Bone died. The madness receded to sadness tinged with a sense of failure. The keepers took back the implementation of their latest idea of course. We didn’t blame them because blame is beyond our capacity of reasoning. Someday the keepers will realize we are incapable of those sorts of politics. So we continued to exist for who we are. We kept plodding along without advancing, passing each other by without participating, peering back at everyone through the glass windows. We’re mostly happy.
I for one, stare back into some of those faces thinking, the(ir) universe is way more cold-blooded that I could ever be.  

first line, last line- story I

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I lost my sock in the foam pit.”

Sophie didn’t look up from her magazine as John walked passed her with his head slightly lowered.  At first glance, he looked perfectly in tact- red flannel button down shirt accurately buttoned, dark blue jeans with a brown leather belt properly buckled, and two matching brown leather shoes that looked like they came from a bowling alley, laces tied and everything.  But, his left foot wore an evergreen sock and his right foot remained bare.

John removed both shoes, left them inside the front door and walked to the fridge to get a beer.

Where is your sock?”  Sophie asked, distracted.

I told you already.  I lost it in the foam pit.”

Oh, right.”  She said, flipping pages just to have something to do.  John made himself comfortable on their grey, stained, corduroy couch and turned on the football game.  He offered no warm greeting.  He offered no further conversation.  He sat, he drank, he remained silent.

Sophie continued to turn the pages of her magazine.  When she reached the last page she went back to the beginning and began to turn the pages again.  She shouldn’t have been surprised but she was.  She should have seen it coming.  People don’t change.  Not really…maybe for a moment or two but not for good.  She asked him again, hoping for a different answer-at the same time wanting to hear the truth but dreading it.

Where is your sock?

I lost my sock in the foam pit.”

Expectancy shattered.

first line, last line- story I

I lost my sock in the foam pit. I landed in a yellow puddle at the bottom of a slide. I fell off the trampoline (which is impossible really- because it’s one of those trampolines positioned in-ground). The padding at the edges looks soft, but the metal springs beneath don’t confirm that. After the trampoline, I had to admit- Totally Tube You World had been a mistake. A mistake made less painfully by a child, surely.

I lost at three games of laser tag before losing my privilege to play a fourth. I lost my temper at a fat teenager on my team, which aroused the attention of a hollow-eyed, acne-scarred faced teenager member of the stafff. He witnessed our shouting match and lost his patience with me, escorted me out. I lost fifteen dollars for pizza and a pitcher of root-beer. (Apparently cardboard topped with rubber is supposed to pass off as food.) I was hungry enough to wash it all down with what I wished was real-beer. I didn’t feel any fuller or happier. I felt lighter in the wallet and cheated.

I lost track of time in there. Like a casino, there are no windows and an excess of bright lights that aren’t steady. The blinding colors blinked in rhythm to artificial noises, in tune with winning this or that. The ch-ch-ching of tokens spitting out from machines that eat dollars was raucous. The hum of feeding tickets into machines that print vouchers for prizes was disturbingly soothing.  Aside from the hollow-eyed, acne-scarred faced teenager, the uniformed staff at Totally Tube You World was pretty laid back, almost chipper. I lost my respect for these people. There was simply no joy in a place like this, I decided. I couldn’t see how anyone older than a child would make the conscious choice to show up here, day after day.

I lost to random kids playing Space Invaders, Skee-Ball and Pop-a-Shot (my favorite game). Kids must spend entire summers here, I imagined, training in the arcade like it was their Little League. I was defeated at games that I have played for a lifetime- by kids with real, refined talent. And that bothered me. I had had it with Totally Tube You World. Exiting through the side door forced me to walk through the mini-golf course and past the petting zoo towards the parking lot.

first line last line-1

And what do you know…
My moment arrived (upon my departure)
I felt like I had finally won something.
(In reality I was only getting back what I lost)
There he was, wearing my sock.
Incredible, unbelievable, hilarious.
Expectancy… shattered.

the younger adventure seekers

summer scavenger hunt-13scavenger hunt: doll in a yellow dress. by- summer

explaining that adventure is for everyone.

it is often difficult for me to explain adventureclub. i am poor with speeches, yes. i have a hard time summarizing things, yes. there is a lot to explain about adventureclub, true. on the other hand, as i struggle to explain, it just seems like people my age get lost on the idea that adventureclub is pretty much about making things up. they can’t think past that and they fail to see that making things up is no different than their own art or sport, their music or poetry, their  hobbies, past times or passions. we make up assignments that demand making more things up.
people ask, for what? and i explain that art is attention. only through attention can there exist any adventure in life. on a weekly basis, i am (self) assigned to pay attention to certain things and to create things from it. that attention has led me on adventures big and small, has stimulated my curiosity of the world and has resulted in an eclectic collection of art: silly projects not worth sharing, unfinished writings, random blog posts, pictures that should be deleted… but also…brilliant photographs, short stories worth saving and blog posts that have reached an audience. when it comes around to the fact that i make absolutely no money from adventure club, people ask, so then why? and i explain that adventure is innocence. only with innocence can their exist any art in life.

the most innocent among us know, by instinct, for what and so then why. they never have to explain themselves. and when i introduced my niece to adventureclub- sending her on her first photo scavenger hunt assignment- i didn’t have to explain anything to her either. kids get it.

the photographs above and below were taken by my eight year old niece. she photographed five items to complete her first photo scavenger hunt and i have shared three of them, unedited. i was delighted at her thoughtfulness with some of the less tangible items on her list of things to find (for one item- backyard mystery– she took a picture of a “fairy garden” planted in a pot in her backyard)  i was impressed by her determination to complete the scavenger hunt. mostly, i was inspired by the fact that she was inspired. the assignment took her on an adventure around her house. she paid attention to dolls and scooters and colors in different ways. she created art.

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scavenger hunt: razor scooter. by- summer

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scavenger hunt: something purple. by- summer

adventureclub(interactive) is…a time capsule

time capsule- Eugene de Salignac

 

when i was in some grade in grade school we made a class time capsule. i have no idea what was put into it, no memory of burying or when it was to be dug up. truthfully, i can’t even be sure that we made a time capsule but i have a strong impression of falling in love with the idea. last year i taught at an elementary school. we didn’t make a time capsule but the experience with young children and group projects helps me to assume what my long ago time capsule project would have been like:

the teacher assigned every kid to bring something from home.
parents sent kids to school the next day with useless junk.
teacher cached the junk into a box.
kids spent an artful afternoon poorly painting signs of DO NOT OPEN until 2113.
the time capsule got buried in a shallow spot, soon forgotten, and probably dug up by the school gardener a year later.

anyway i probably don’t remember it all very well because although i fell in love with the idea but i probably didn’t like how it was a group effort. (we are all younger versions of ourselves throughout our lives. do we ever really change?) i like individual work. i don’t like putting my stuff with other peoples stuff. i like things that represent me instead of me and a whole class of kids.
i probably went home, consulted my best friend/next door neighbor, and convinced her to make our own time capsules. just our junk, we probably buried it deeply and-
although extremely determined and inspired-
i did forget about it.

as a teenager i fantasized about messages in bottles, Carl Sagan-esque contact with life on other planets and time travel. i wanted to leave things behind of myself, not just for future students at sunset elementary, but for people on other sides of oceans, or out in space, for farther away and for longer than a hundred years.

i am starting to make sense of this string of fascinations. i want to be remembered by something concrete that i can leave behind. i want to impart something that isn’t just the junk of the era. i want something created by me- to outlast me, to make sense of me, to be associated with me. you may be thinking of the obvious (and arguably overused) methods: have children, become famous or make a fortune and spread the wealth. but stay with me here. think along the lines of a time capsule. think: buried treasure. think: immortal. think: timeless.

i consider adventureclub(interactive) my time capsule. it’s a cache of individual works (mostly exclusive to me and theStephALA). it is our collection of inspirations and ideas and their consequential insights and interpretations. and i hope that someday we can put it into print. although cyberspace is an obvious medium for any modern time capsule i want adventureclub(interactive) to become a book so i can bury it or bottle it with  ceremony. and i will understand fully, what it is about myself and why it is (that i have always known) that i have to leave something behind. so i won’t forget about it.

 

 

 

adventureclub(interactive) is… trial and error.

as i sit in a local pizzeria, bouncing my leg angrily under the table at the lack of wifi, i catch sight of the following sign hanging from the front counter:

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the only reason i decided to visit this establishment in the first place was my need for wifi…maybe I was a little hungry…but mostly the wifi. despite the arrival of our comcast equipment two days ago, the box remains unopened and i remain angry…but that’s another story.

back to being angry at the pizza place (usually i am a very laid back person, really!). the wifi worked just long enough for me to order a pizza and commit to one location. 5 minutes after i ordered, it quit. after an internal tantrum i calmed down and took that sign to heart. here it is again:

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what does this have to do with adventureclub(interactive) and trial and error? i will tell you! there is always more than one way to do something and it pays to do whatever you are doing from a positive and genuine place. now i’m writing to you all from my cellphone. yes, this is taking me longer to type than it would if I were on a regular sized keyboard looking at a large computer screen, but hey, it’s doing the trick.

i can easily get stuck in a rut-i’m sure most people can. adventureclub helps me to think “outside the box” and break up my routines. each week there is a new idea, a new challenge, a new task, a new something to get excited about. some ideas and assignments work very well, some fall flatter than we would like but either way we strive to keep the spirit of change alive.

as the sign says, this is a journey! and like any great adventure, there may be a few bumps a long the way. adventureclub gives me the courage and determination to keep moving forward, backward and side to side. it’s ok to change direction, adapt and try-even in the face of error. it’s ok to release your expectations of what things should be and how things should go. this lack of wifi turned into a self realization experience. it made me breathe. and, i discovered that i like green olives on pizza.

adventureclub(interactive) is…for the sake of it

side by side photographs summarizing the recent adventureclub photo exchange.
-adventureclubviral received theStephALA’s photo series in the mail.
-theStephALA received adventureclubviral’s photo series in the mail. 

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so many times, i have stopped to consider the phrase- art for the sake of art.
i have heard it, spoken it, read it, written it. i have thought of it…countless times.
maybe it is tired, but for me it is always true.
so the philosophy implies- art has an inherent value. art is invaluable.
art is in and of itself. it has no function apart from (the maintenance of) its own existence.
in other words- it serves no constructive purpose.
sometimes the philosophy sounds like an excuse- an artist explaining away the point of doing something of no utilitarian purpose. or a validation- that no reason or purpose is necessary to justify their work. art for the sake of art.
so hey people of the hard working world: perhaps your tie is too tight. maybe your gray hairs are too many. whether your bank account is low or your to do list too long…
maybe you are more exhausted than the old saying… art for the sake of art.
so maybe something for the sake of something is less an excuse and more a respite.
you wouldn’t even have to call it art.

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so what is adventureclub(interactive)?
it is finding adventure for the sake of being adventurous. it is being in a club for the sake of belonging. it is creative writing, reading, amateur photography, aromatherapy, inspiration and organization.
it is for the sake of itself.
true it has given me something to do just to have something to do.
but it never gets tired because at the end of the day i have something to show for and someone to share it with.
receiving the printed photos from theStephALA in the mail and knowing that she received mine was the satisfaction- the sake- of completing something artful and having someone appreciate it.