Spring continues its slow, drawn-out march to the Badlands. The green grass is slowly starting to become more evident among the brown, but only where the grass gets mowed. The hiss of the dry grass in the prairie wind still dominates. Killdeer have arrived, pairs of bluebirds are easily found, and there are swarms of slate-colored dark-eyed juncos in the park. A lap around the loop yesterday revealed a small band of elk between the Ridgeline Trail and Paddock Creek. I saw a band of horses from I-94 today that had two foals. No new calves or fawns that I've seen yet.
The rabbits outside my window, one of which lives under my car for a good chunk of the day, have been doing some interesting things. They do a little dance where they face one another, then one of the rabbits will run at the second, who jumps straight into the air as the first rabbit runs underneath. In between actual run/jump actions, the one doing the running will try to fake the other one out. Sometimes it leads to a brief chase. It's bizarre and comical, and I suppose it has something to do with them testing out each other's agility (gaging the prospectus for rearing survivable offspring).
Medora is starting to awaken a bit. I saw a few new cars by one of the TRMF dormitories, and there are a few cars out in front of the Cowboy Cafe daily now. Speaking of the Cowboy Cafe, they ripped out some really awful-looking housing from behind the cafe yesterday. Today, they are breaking up the slabs. I wasn't sure for months whether it was housing or a storage shed, if that gives you any idea what it was like. I can see a lot farther out my back windows now.
I went back to the Queen City Barber Shop and did some more investigative work. Last time I had been there, there were some questionable aspects regarding my experience. First of all, regarding the name "Queen City," the owner of the barber shop told me that was the name when he bought it 39 years ago, and even he didn't know what it really meant (yet didn't bother to change the name which I still contend has "gay" written all over it). I had discussed the issue of the name "Queen City" and barbers with leather vests with the eye doctor* which he found pretty funny, but he had no answers either. The eye doctor, who studied in Chicago and understood why I had this perception, had joked that I probably wouldn't be visiting the "Queen City Night Club" either. On the second issue, that of the alleged roadkill bear hide to be displayed in the barber shop that I had read about, the barber told me that it belonged to an employee of his who taken it to a taxidermist, but that was two years ago and he had not paid attention to the story since then. Well, for a barber, he sure didn't know much. The dirty truck-driving guy waiting after me, however, was more entertaining for his frighteningly racist and mysogynistic views regarding the presidential election. That was the first time I've ever heard the N-word applied with its original meaning that didn't appear on black-and-white film.
*I trying to distract myself so as not to pass out uncontrollably from the glaucoma tests. My first order of business with him was to declare the large area of blue carpet in front of me to be my landing zone. For whatever reason, I did not get nauseous this visit. It may have helped that I got to put my head in a vise-like thing while he shined the obnoxiously bright lights directly into my brain.
I do have a news item regarding Glacier for the summer. After much waiting, many phone calls, and a lot of wondering, word has been passed down that I will be doing the same job as previous years: GS-05 interpretation in St. Mary, and I will act as Dorm RA again. Mark offered me the opportunity to work in Many Glacier, and while it's beautiful and a lot of people's favorite place, St. Mary is my preference. At least the chances of St. Mary burning down are slim now, compared to other duty stations. Also, I love the Beaver Pond hike, even if no one else does. I think Mark felt bad that he couldn't give me the promotion, but he's already done plenty for me; I wouldn't have gotten past being an SCA without him. While I'm disappointed - I really thought this was the time I would advance, since I've been with the park longer than the person who got the job - I am excited to keep doing what I love: presenting.
I'm thinking about doing a new slide program about fire lookout towers. There is something majestic about them, and certainly something fascinating about the people who work in them and their experiences. If I can find the materials and the photos I need, I think it'll be a phenomenal topic. I had thought about this after seeing a co-worker's photo of one of the lookout towers, forgotten about it, then got really excited after discovering Edward Abbey's writings about his summer at the Numa Ridge Lookout. I have been to that lookout and reading Abbey's account, all I could do was say "Yep, yep, that's exactly how it is." (I destroyed my right hip flexor in the process of hiking to that lookout. It has never fully recovered.)