To the people who truly helped me learn to love Yellowstone National Park
There are people who come into our worlds and give us entirely new perspectives on life and love.
These are the people we never saw coming, but when they appear, they completely and drastically change our lives so much that we can't even remember what our lives were like before we met them. We learn to love them so damn much, they literally become a part of our family.
For me, two of those people came into my life in the summer of 2015.
How fitting it was that I met these two individuals who would become so important to me in the place that had completely changed my life for the better. They made it better.
You never really expect these life-changing moments when they happen; they're always so random. Thus was the case when I first met Mrs. Shelley and Mr. Rob.
I was with two work friends on my birthday at the general store in our area because I wanted ice cream. I was sitting out at one of the picnic tables and chatting with my friends about some hike that I wanted to do. That was when I heard someone speak up from behind us.
It was a couple behind me, saying they'd done the hike many times before and that I would definitely enjoy it. This launched us into a conversation about everything from who we all were to where we were from to what we were doing in Yellowstone.
See, there is a saying about the people of Yellowstone; they say we are of our own breed. They say that we are kinder people, who enjoy life and appreciate the little things more than most. I never understood the truth behind that saying until I met Mrs. Shelley and Mr. Rob... and believe me, they are two living examples of that.
From that chance meeting outside of the Lake Area General Store, those two people became like my second parents.
They showed me what it means to truly live in and love Yellowstone for all that it could be. The kindness that radiates from these people is beyond measure; they are a huge part of the reason my summer in Yellowstone was so unforgettably wonderful. When I say that these are two of the most selfless people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in this world, I mean it.
They brought out the best of Yellowstone for me; they showed me all of what was possible there.
It's because of them I discovered and visited parts of the world most people will never see. Photo by Karley Nugent
It's because of them that I met/have friends from the other side of the world.
Photo (Selfie) by Yoke Yen Loh
It's because of them that I have so many of the incredible pictures I shot during those months.
Photo by Karley Nugent
And it is because of them that Yellowstone has become a home to me. Photo by Karley Nugent
From standing atop petrified trees over two million years old drinking beers on the docks of the marina and sharing easy conversations, I will forever stand by this statement: Mrs.Shelley and Mr. Rob are some of the most important people in my life.
Since the moment I met them, they have inspired me in all the things I do. I am a better person because I met them; they taught me to love harder and work harder so that I can one day measure up to be half of the incredible people they are.
They are two shining examples of who I want to be in my life.
So to my Yellowstone family, thank you. Thank you both. Everything you have done for and/or given to me means more than I could ever properly say, and I hope like hell you both know how important our friendship is to me.
I am forever looking forward to the day we'll meet again, and we'll go out onto the lake on your boat, or hike to Union Falls (because I'm holding you both to that promise until it happens!), or just spend time together in general. My only regret from that summer is that we didn't take more pictures together, but I have no doubt that we'll make up for it next time, because there will absolutely be a next time. That is my promise to the both of you.
I miss you both more than words can say, and I hope this letter shows you both that you're always on my mind, and that I truly do love you as my own family.
So until we meet again...