No doubts about it, I’m definitely liking this work camping gig better than Amazon last fall, even though the spring weather has been fickle and unpredictable. The promised snow did come on the 22nd, and the wind was blowing hard enough that it was all but impossible to get pictures while it was falling. I snapped one of Cas in his first honest to gosh snow-fall, and another of the snow melting on the badlands after orientation got done, by evening it was mostly gone.
Speaking of work, it’s been going decently. I won’t say it’s a fantastic or amazing job, but as with most things in life, work is what you make of it. I choose to focus on the good things and ignore the inevitable drama and politics found in any workplace, even in one in as picturesque a location as this.
Focusing on the positives, the Cedar Pass Lodge gift shop feels less like a tourist trap and more like a genuine learning experience. Unlike with many gift shops, a good majority of the product carried is made in the USA, and there are a lot of authentic Native American handicrafts that are actually made in the local reservation. Not only is it the real deal, but there are signs and cards out by each artist’s display with their name and tribe on it, and many have the story behind the art, and a little about how it was made. It’s not gimmicky, the tourists purchasing things from CPL actually learn something about the culture and history of the area, and aren’t just buying a cheap trinket. It means more work for us employees to have to learn the story behind all the things we sell, but no doubt it makes me feel like a better human being to be selling things of real value and substance.
Not only is it authentic, it’s pretty. The view out the large front windows is the view behind my rig in that photo I posted last update. I may be stuck behind a counter a good part of the day, but I get to watch the sun play across the bends and folds of the badlands. Amazing view non-withstanding, the gift shop itself is well laid out and beautiful, and carries a lot of beautiful stuff. There are three counters and sections to it, I was trained and will probably continue to primarily work at the jewelry counter. I’m really not much of a jewelry person, but I knew I was in trouble from the moment I stepped foot into the Lodge. I won’t make it through the season without buying something for myself, I already know it. Luckily I’m not an impulse buyer though, so I’ll still be saving most of whats left of my paycheck after bills etc. to put toward solar power and other future projects.
I also get along well with my co-workers. Again it’s still early to tell, but in the week and a half that I’ve been working I already feel more of a community kind of connection with them than I ever did at Amazon. Part of that is me – I’m making much more of a conscious effort to get involved and go out and do stuff. So far I’ve gone out “hiking” with others 6 times I think? I’ve already lost count. I say “hiking” in quotations because with the younger crowd it’s less hiking and more climbing. There are no rules about having to stay on the trails in the badlands so more often than not we ignore the trails completely and start at the bottom of a cliff and climb up to the top.
It’s amazing exercise, climbing is. The first couple times I did it I was sore in muscles I didn’t even know I had. After my first day of work on the 23rd one of the cooks took a fellow gift shop employee and myself out “hiking” and we ended up after a hard arduous climb through mud and melting snow on the flat grassy top of a mesa thing. The badlands loop road stretched out before us left and right and the panoramic view of the badlands went a whole 360 degrees around us, it was incredible and yes, I have video of it.
We went down a different way than we went up and wound our way through a curving creek bed with walls rising up on either side. I tried getting photos but I was too close to show the real scope of what it looked like. Occasionally we’d step in a pile of snow and discover that it was much deeper than expected, the wind likes to pile it into the crevices. I made it back to the RV with muddy shoes but otherwise intact as the sun set.