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Thursday, April 24, 2014


If I told you that you were going to make a trip that took 3 days in a car lasting an average of 9 hours per day; would you rejoice?  Would you be happy?  Would you relish in the fact that you’d be cramped in a small area with your butt aching/cramping and your back stiffening up?  Most folks would pass on a trip like that except if you were embarking on a potentially life altering sojourn understanding this trip would change you forever.  You may alter your thinking if you were heading to a legendary national park with a new job in hand.

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse

I’m not even 3 weeks into my new adventure and I have changed.  I’ve always been a “stop and smell the roses” kinda guy.  I’m a slow walker, slow eater and fast appreciator of nature’s bounty because I like to savor the splendid experience called “life”.  My ex brother-in-law would scarf down his food reducing the experience of eating as just a necessary thing to live.  My view-point is that "Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul." Dorothy Day said this as she worked to eradicate hunger for the poor in the 1930’s and 1040’s.

Mt. Rushmore (Keystone, SD)

Mt. Rushmore (Keystone, SD)
My point is that I would climb over jagged glass to experience the epiphany that awaits visitors to a place like Yellowstone National Park.  My trip did involve 3 days of driving across our great nation but I didn’t suffer as I saw the trek as a mere jaunt that exposed me to the tremendous wind turbines in Indiana, vast corn fields in Illinois, seeing bald eagles soar over the Mississippi River, enjoying the skyline of Peoria, IL, amazed at the sheer numbers of cattle in South Dakota, gazing on the antelope in Wyoming and, unfortunately, killing a kestrel (small falcon) as it slammed into my windshield while I was going 70 mph.  My jeep is now sporting a nice-sized crack for me to view through as a reminder of the drive.

Devil's Tower - Wyoming
In my case, the journey IS the experience but so is the destination.  I’m in my 50’s and recognize my mortality more than most folks my age.  I fully intend to take full advantage of what was given to me with this new experience as a sous chef within the confines of Yellowstone National Park’s boundaries. 

Yellowstone fox
I have a chance to make the second chapter of my life something spectacular; something to cheer about and I’m not going to screw that up.  I know I’m on the right course because since I’ve arrived in the park; I’ve met like-minded people that share my views on nature, cooking, music, art and more – much, much more!  Sometimes it takes 52 years for you to find your place in life or your “aha moment”.  I was meant to take this trip – a trip that has no definitive outcome as I’m rolling the dice on a seasonal gig that will end in just a few short months.  But this gig is my window of opportunity and sometimes you just have to grab that brass ring of possibilities and know deep down that you’re making the right decision. 

YNP Bison
I’ve changed …. the flowers smell sweeter, the food tastes better and the music is altogether intoxicating.  Whatever fear resides within me is fastly melting away being replaced with hope.

I’m making the right decision –

Paradise Valley, Montana
Have a great day and never give up!

Mark (Sparky)