This is the third post (of four) in which I’m sharing our itinerary for our recent trip out to Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. The first post is here, and the second post is here – in case you missed them.
Warning: Photo-heavy post ahead.
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Days 5: Old Faithful to Mammoth
One unexpected upside to Yellowstone was the disconnection to the outside world. There were no televisions in the hotels, and WIFI (for a fee) was only available at a handful of locations in the entire 2.2 million acres. There was also no radio. We usually listen to radio in the car, but we lost the signal shortly after entering the park from the south entrance. The silence, initially palpable and deafening, was soon comfortable and expected.
Now, let me dispel any notion you may have that we rode in that stylish rental minivan for hours each day without any noise or electronic distractions. I am not stupid. I would never travel without items to occupy my kids’ busy minds. We traveled with exactly three iPads, one laptop, and two Kindles. Frozen was on constant replay from at least one device at any given time. In between Frozen clips, the kids played Minecraft on their iPads – which are technically NOT their iPads at all but only borrowed from their parents. (Yeah, sure.)
Grand Prismatic Spring, in the Midway Geyser Basin in the Old Faithful area.
I had the rare opportunity this summer to look back on the last six years of my career as an oncologist and to reflect on where I started and where I’m headed. The experience was eye opening, motivating, and educational. It was also painful.
I work in academic medicine (some of you know this already), and in academics, the only way to be promoted up the professorial hierarchy is to prepare a promotion packet. The promotion packet is a compilation of every activity I’ve been involved in since I was hired and every accomplishment I’ve achieved along the way. I had to write it myself. This meant that I spent nearly an entire month, maybe a little longer, writing about myself, about all of the many things I’ve done and how great I am at everything – patient care, teaching, administration, and research. When I finally turned it in, my packet was around 50 pages in length, and over 15,000 words.
By the end of writing it, I was fairly sick of myself. You probably would too, if you read it.
My father’s last spoken wish to me was to come with us to the Grand Tetons and to Yellowstone. He would never have the chance to see it again, through his own eyes. But he saw it through mine, and through the eyes of his grandchildren.
We left a little of him behind, too, in three places that felt right.
Tower Falls area, Yellowstone National Park
Soda Butte, in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park
Lupine Meadows, in Grand Teton National Park
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir, 1938