By: Sonya Carrizales
Looking back now, my last three weeks at Yellowstone went by so quickly. I was so focused on getting my project done in time that I started working more hours to compensate for time I knew I was going to lose once my school year started. I didn’t take the time to sit on my porch and play my ukulele like I used to. I still enjoyed my last three weeks, but as I was driving to and from work or touring around Yellowstone with my family, I felt the clock ticking on my summer adventures in Yellowstone.
During the late August timeframe, I was able to make a couple more museum visits to look at different women’s objects I had found and built tag sets for in ICMS, our database for accessing and cataloging museum objects. During my museum visits, I was able to connect with the women I was studying by flipping through their photo albums or feeling the fabric on their uniforms. My museum visits were able to transport me back in time. I was reliving the accounts of Pillow punchers, savages, and visitors left in the words of their memoirs. I was envisioning the lodges, landscapes, and norms of twentieth century Yellowstone through fading images in worn scrapbooks. However, I often felt a level of discomfort going through such personal mementos of women who I was studying. It felt like some of the items I looked at were supposed to be private documents meant only to be seen or read by the women who wrote these accounts.
In my last two weeks at Yellowstone, I was very preoccupied with keeping up a double life where I worked full time on my internship project while also balancing a full college schedule. Luckily, I was able to stay on-site for my entire internship since my college decided to switch to remote learning this fall. With that being said, my college also decided to switch to an accelerated course system and start two weeks earlier than originally planned, which made my last two weeks incredibly challenging. Instead of balancing four classes with two weeks of material, I had to manage three courses with a month’s worth of material, as each course is slated to end halfway through the semester. In order to spend as much time as possible working on my Yellowstone project during the day, I did my best to schedule my classes to start at times outside my internship hours. I was waking up at 5:30 am every morning to make it to class by 6:00 am, attending class in the morning straight until my working hours, and getting home from work only to attend more classes or do school work until 9:30 pm when I had to start all over the next day.
Although my last two weeks were difficult to say the least, I’m very thankful to have had kindness and support from my on-site mentors and colleagues during this transition period. Everyone in my office decided to throw me a goodbye party where we ate lunch together and I received a parting card with a gift. My on-site supervisor also took my family and I out to lunch for the last day of my internship which was very kind. I invited a different colleague and mentor of mine to dinner on my final night and we were able to play my favorite card game together before parting ways. I was grateful to spend that quality time with my colleagues before ending my internship. As for my project, when I presented my research guide to my supervisors on the second to last day, I got stellar feedback from both of them, which made me feel proud of my accomplishments.
Leaving Yellowstone, I felt a sense of nostalgia come over me as we were driving through beautiful vistas I had traveled through many times prior. I remembered the tour I took with my supervisor at the very beginning of my internship when the valleys were green in late June, or the drives between Norris and Old Faithful I went on with my grandma and brother. I remembered my solo trips between Canyon and Fishing Bridge where I pulled off in Hayden Valley to play my ukulele and watch the bison below. I remembered days of smoke-filled air from the Gardiner fire and California wildfires, as well as the days of heavy rain that washed the smoke away. I remembered the days of clear skies and sunshine that basked down on my face as I wandered from place to place in Wonderland.