Yesterday, I woke up in a motel overlooking the tumbling, turbid waters of the Yellowstone River. To the south and west, national parklands reared up over the little town of Gardiner, Montana. Sagebrush scrub and open grasslands yielded to the steep, still-snowy slopes of Sepulcher Mountain and Electric Peak. I smiled, feeling at peace and at home.
I collected my uniform from storage and drove into Yellowstone, crossing into Wyoming within a couple of miles. The route up the hill from the North Entrance toward Mammoth Hot Springs was familiar, but at the same time it felt foreign: it had been nearly two years since last I passed this way. I noticed lots of little things that had changed—a sign had been replaced, a parking area had been realigned—but the landscape and the clusters of people remained the same. Read more