I spent most of the day puttering around the dorm trying to get my joints to re-lubricate themselves and my blisters to pop. Surprisingly, Andrew looked far better than I. He was up, bright and early, to drive back home to Casper to see his wife. I don’t envy him, especially in his condition. That’s a cramped 5.5 hour ride. I caught up on my journal entries, did some stinky laundry and then decided to stop being pathetic and savor this day off, in spite of my feeble body. I bought myself an ice cream cone at the Fishing Bridge general store, ate it in Hayden Valley and then walked around the Mud Volcano and Sulphur Caldron sites. I love how stinky it all is. A large portion of the Park smells like rotten eggs or really bad gas. As soon as I arrived in the Park, I rolled down my window and took a deeply satisfying whiff. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love the smell. I’ve got to find a way to bottle it so I can take some Yellowstone stink home with me! Sick? Yes, but I stand by my passion for all things smelly. After my sightseeing jaunt, I returned to the dorm and right at the front steps was a coyote with some sort of dead animal in its mouth. It sauntered across my path and then circled back around in front of me as if to show off what it caught. Then is proudly trotted off down the street. Everyone was in the dorm kitchen and they all happened to miss the coyote just outside the door. Duh! I spent the night laughing with the researchers in the kitchen and watching them play cards. Such a hilarious cast of characters here. Plans for the faux bear jam were stepped up and further fleshed out which led to us swapping bear spray stories. I told them about how in 2006 we were practicing deploying a few expired bear spray canisters in the dorm parking lot. We checked the area to make sure no one else was around and then we let it rip. Mere seconds later, from under a nearby truck we heard someone coughing and swearing. A beat-red, sweaty, extremely pissed-off man appears out from under the truck. He blindly zig-zagged over to us in a complete rage, ready to beat the crap out of all of us. We apologized profusely and explained that we were just practicing with our spray and that we had no idea he was under there. He calmed down and forgave us. A few weeks later he gave us all engraved mini-pocket knives as a way of apologizing…for spraying him in the face with bear spray. Yup, he gave us a gift for that. You gotta love people sometimes! I still have the knife. Tomorrow is another day off but it’s not just any ole day. Oh no. It’s my birthday! Not to mention that it’s also the summer solstice and the longest day of the year–I couldn’t ask for a better day for a birthday. The Germans and the Wisconsinites taking me to the Park employee pub for some pizza and cheap, yet delicious, beer. We plan to walk to the pub from the dorm which is right through serious bear country. So most of us will be packing bear spray. The only foreseeable problem with that plan is bear spray several beers deep may indeed become a toy, especially on the walk back. A very painful, uncomfortable toy. We shall see though. Maybe I’ll get another pocket knife out of the deal. Can’t wait!