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    Posted October 17, 2013 by
    West Glacier, Montana
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Shutdown over: What next?

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    Glacier National Park Birthday Gift


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Since iVideoMarket moved to Montana in 2003, he has spent almost every birthday inside the boundaries of Glacier National Park. The federal government resumed operations just in time for him to spend the morning of his 41st birthday surrounded by the park's mountains, lakes and hiking trails. 'I really wish there were some camera that could relay feelings, because the place is totally magical.' He said the shutdown 'fortified my belief that our elected officials have no problem with manipulating the American people.' This image was featured as CNN's Travel Photo of the Day on November 21, 2013.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    Since the government shutdown, our National Parks all across the country have been closed, including my favorite, Glacier National Park in northwest Montana.


    Congress has finally compromised and federal workers were ordered back to work as of today, October 17th, my birthday.


    Just about every year since I moved here just after 9/11, I have spent "my day" in Glacier National Park. Being there gives one a sense of calm, peace, and relaxation.


    I feared that I would be forced to break the law this year and sneak in to continue my long standing tradition, as the end of the closure was uncertain, even just two days ago.


    Last night as I learned that the shutdown had come to an end, I felt a great relief, and happiness. I traveled to the west entrance before sunrise, and the signs and barricades had been removed to the side of the road, bringing a smile to my face.


    As I arrived at Lake McDonald, much like in years past, I was all alone, with the exception of a lone deer on the shoreline, several ground squirrels scampering through the fallen leaves, and a pair of loons.


    The magic of Glacier has captivated me in this state, despite the inability to find employment, several instances of near homelessness, and a roller coaster ride of emotions through a decade.


    I know now that Montana will always be my "home" no matter where I happen to live.


    Today will likely have been my last visit to the park until next year, as I set off to find employment to continue being able to exist in this world. I will miss her, but I will also see her everyday, via webcam, and photos through social media.


    In closing, I would like to thank our congressmen and women for giving me the best birthday gift I have received, my ability to find my annual inner peace.


    Best regards,


    Stephan Ferry © 2013

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