Getting Ready for Yellowstone

A couple of years ago my Peace Corps group was going to have a reunion, possibly at Yellowstone National Park. However we waited too long and wound up canceling the idea. It turns out you have to reserve lodging well in advance. So last September I placed a reservation and put down a refundable deposit for the historic Old Faithful Inn this coming May (they charge your credit card, but you can cancel for a full refund up to the day before you are supposed to be there). Even then it wasn’t easy finding places, but I reserved for 3 nights during the week of Memorial Day. The plan was to try to do the nearby Grand Teton National Park that week as well.

A couple of weeks ago I made firm plans by booking a flight to Salt Lake City and from there will drive up to the park, about 5 hours away. I had hoped to use my frequent flyer miles and get a free ticket, but Delta’s program requires different numbers of miles depending on whether they consider a ticket price to be low, medium, or high. I had enough points for a low price ticket, but not a medium price ticket, which is what they usually assign to Atlanta to Salt Lake City (though sometimes during the week it is considered low; nothing remotely close to when I wanted to go).

Then I realized I had myself flying home the same day I was checking out of Yellowstone, which would mean leaving the park at 4 AM to get back to Salt Lake in time for my flight. Ugh. All the lodging in Grand Teton seemed to be full at this point, but I found some cabins available in Yellowstone and booked those for the two preceding nights, for a total of five nights, all in Yellowstone. However, it turned out that it might be just as good or better to get a place in Jackson, Wyoming, which is in the area called Jackson Hole, not actually a hole, but a valley, just outside of Grand Teton NP. Jackson seems to have some things to do as well, including whitewater rafting down the Snake River. However, while in Georgia May is practically Summer, in the mountains it is early Spring and some of the roads are just opening from the winter snows. In fact the northeast Yellowstone entrance along Beartooth Highway is only cleared of snow the week before Memorial Day and has 15-foot snow drifts on the side of the road through June. For rafting the water could be ice cold (they do have wetsuits available which should provide some warmth). In the end, I wound up canceling the cabins, getting two nights in Jackson, and then canceling the third night in Yellowstone for a total of 4 nights. While I did that, I also made dinner reservations for both nights at the Old Faithful Inn, which was already filling up 2 months ahead of time!
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Katie’s Hearing Loss

Katie has definitely been showing signs of age. I got her in 2000 when she was about 6 months old, so she is over 13. She has had a tough time walking for over a year, but has learned to adapt to it, and still looks forward to walks around the block (and other places; last night she led us up to the shopping center nearby). She is on her third set of shoes and needs a fourth, even though I re-sole them as many times as I can using Shoe Goo. Two weeks ago Austin was staying at Jenny’s, so Katie was home with me. I was saying something to her like asking if she wanted to go outside and she wasn’t reacting. She’s old, so she could have just been ignoring me (she’s always had an independent streak), but it didn’t seem like it. The next day when I came in, I decided on a real test: I rang the doorbell. That usually sets her off howling and barking immediately, even when she hears one on TV. No reaction. She seemed to be completely deaf. I think a lot of times she relies on Austin hearing something and following his lead, so I’m not sure how long she has been this way. If a noise is loud enough, she will hear it, though it could also be she is feeling it.

I took her to the vet this week to get her checked out and see if there was anything to do. Basically, there isn’t. They said the only way to tell if she is really deaf is to take her to a neurologist for a diagnosis and that it would be unlikely they could actually do anything about it. That’s what I suspected, but I wanted to rule out something simple like wax buildup or an ear infection (the vet said dogs don’t get wax buildup).
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