Wednesday, June 29, 2011

they call the thing rodeo

videoThis is a video of my friend Kris riding a bull.  I'll explain later (I couldn't figure out how to move it to the end of the post).

Still no purse.  But I think I'm getting it back today!  Thankfully, MK took her camera on our most recent adventures, so I have pictures to share.

On Monday, we had a fun girls' day in Missoula with our friends Aimee, Dylan, and Ali.
New friends.  Aren't they cute?
We walked around downtown Missoula and window shopped and then ate lunch at a great little cafe called Hob Nob.  We went to The Good Food Store, which is essentially Missoula's local version of Whole Foods.  Dylan is vegan, so she was basically in heaven.  Then, we went on an amazing hike up the Blue Mountain and had a fantastic view of Missoula!  We took about ten different trails to get there because it wasn't well marked, and we even had to hike through a disc golf course, but we made it to the top.



We rewarded ourselves from the hike with dollar sushi night at Sushi Hana in Missoula.  It wasn't the best sushi I've ever had but good for Montana, I suppose.  Background info: Montana is not a diverse state at all.  As in, I don't think I've seen anyone but white people the entire time I've been here.  Therefore, there is a distinct lack of ethnic food and culture.

Yesterday, we were back at the ranch.  Every Tuesday, the wranglers host an informal rodeo for the guests.  Pictures tell the story better.

They let all the barn horses out and ran them through the arena.

Wranglers Buck and Kevin steer roping

Kris riding the bull

Shae barrel racing

PJ riding a bucking bronc

MK and Aimee 

Gabby and Dan

Katie, me, MK, Aimee, and Mallory
The rodeo is a lot of fun because some of the wranglers compete in real rodeos on the side!  MK and I think they could use some coordinated music and emcees.  We offered our services, but no one seemed too amused.

Post title: "Rodeo," by Garth Brooks

Sunday, June 26, 2011

meet me underneath that big Montana sky

A few reflections from my first month in Montana:

1. Everyone knows that southern people have the whole southern hospitality thing goin' on, and I'm so very proud of that.  But people from Montana are almost equally as friendly.  And I love it.  As in, I haven't paid for a single drink since I've been here.

2. When cleaning, the best method is to start all the way at the top and work your way down.  This way, you avoid cleaning the same piece of furniture twice.  And always clean the sinks last.

3. The dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding is totally right; Windex does work wonders.

4. You can tell a lot about people from the state they leave their room/cabin/tent/house in.

5. This ranch would make for an incredibly addicting reality show.

Still no purse, which means no camera and therefore no pictures.

Post title: "Meet Me In Montana," by Marie Osmond

Thursday, June 23, 2011

it's a sip of wine, it's summertime

Before I tell about our most recent "weekend," I have a very exciting announcement: IT IS FINALLY SUMMER IN MONTANA!  Summer solstice aside, it truly feels like summer here now.  As in, I've worn shorts two days in a row.  For everyone back home, I know this sounds crazy, but we've been longing for heat and sun the whole month we've been here so far.
Can't wait to have picnics like this at the ranch!  Photo courtesy of Pinterest.
So I was going to recap our latest adventure, but I left my purse in Miranda's car when she dropped us off back at the ranch.  Since she's in Canada for a week and both my camera and phone were in my purse, I can't tell my story with pictures.  And the pictures are necessary.  For memory's sake, my next post should include details of our first night out on the town in Philipsburg last Friday and an account of our time at Flathead Lake (including a story about black bears).  I know you're waiting with baited breath!
Buh-bye for now, little guy!
Blog title: "Summertime," by Kenny Chesney

Friday, June 17, 2011

so let me thank you for your time

Three random things I thought you should know.  Photo courtesy of Pinterest
1. Yesterday, I finally removed a splinter from my hand that had been there since my first day of work.  (There is a lot of exposed, rough wood in the houses and cabins and my skin hates it).

2. When we went to Yellowstone, we passed over the Continental Divide (to the west, the water flows into the Pacific, to the east, into the Atlantic).  I don't understand why it's so far west, but you know about me and geography!

3. The rag I used for the majority of the day at work yesterday was, in fact, an old American Eagle polo.  As it should be.

Post title: "King of Anything," by Sara Bareilles

Saturday, June 11, 2011

a simple little kind of free

The following is an account of our first "weekend" trip at the ranch:

MK and I switched shifts with a couple other housekeeping girls so we could work the early shift on Tuesday and head out with Miranda to Yellowstone in the afternoon.  Tuesday was Miranda's last day of work at the ranch.  We met Miranda's boyfriend, Henry, and his dog, Maddy, in Butte and drove the rest of the way to Gardiner, a small town just outside of the entrance to Yellowstone.  Henry's friend Brogan is a raft guide with a river company that sends trips down the Yellowstone River.  The plan was for us to pitch tents in the yard of the rafting staff quarters.  The pouring rain prevented us from doing that.  Brogan offered us the luxurious garage couches instead.  I wish I had pictures of our would-be accommodations to justify our move to a hotel, but we were in such a hurry to leave the next day that I forgot.  (One of) the only problems about the garage was that there were three couches and five people who needed to sleep on them.  When a spider landed on Miranda, she decided us girls would be spending the night at the local Comfort Inn.  Splitting a $120 hotel room three ways was the best life choice we could have made.  After using our expert knowledge to critique their housekeeping tactics, we enjoyed a great night's sleep.
Me, MK, Morgan, Miranda, and Maddy at the entrance to the park
MK with her new best friend, Madeline
Geysers in Mammoth
Historic park service buildings in Mammoth


Gorgeous view going up the mountain
This geyser is the largest in the world (it's about three times taller than Old Faithful), but its eruption schedule is very unpredictable


Big bison and baby bison



The backseat gang
On Wednesday morning, we picked up Brogan's girlfriend, Morgan, and headed into Yellowstone while the guys helped with raft guide training.  We opted not to participate, since a requirement was to repeatedly play the "helpless victim" and spend lots of time in the freezing cold water.  The guys planned on doing several runs down the canyon for guide training and then coming back to get us for an evening trip down the river (sans boat flipping).  In Yellowstone, we walked Maddy around the Mammoth area, hiked to a few geysers, and ate lunch at the grill.  We saw lots of wildlife, including elk, mountain goats, and bison.  When the rafting guides finally got back from training, the trailer had apparently broken and there were no willing volunteers to take us down the river.  Saying that Miranda was mad would be an understatement.  We immediately packed up the car and were on our way back to Missoula.  This was one time when I was thankful for my dog allergies.  I had the pleasure of riding shotgun while MK, Miranda, Henry's roommate Chris, and Maddy were all squeezed in the backseat.

Back in Missoula, we crashed at Miranda's parents' house.  The next day, we went rafting down the Blackfoot River.  Henry's friend Gonzo is a rafting guide with five years' experience.  He kayaked in front of our boat and ran lines for Henry, who was quite a stellar novice raft guide.  No boat flipping for us!  Miranda has some action shots of rafting from her waterproof camera, so I'll post those when she sends them.  We hope we can have more fun "weekends" like this one throughout the summer; we just need a car!
Rafting down the Blackfoot River
Post title: "Perfectly Lonely," by John Mayer

Sunday, June 5, 2011

workin' for a livin'

I apologize for not posting until now.  No, it's not because I suddenly hate it here and couldn't bear to make up false fun times; it's a combination of having too much fun and working a lot!  The last few days, MK and I have been working the 1-9 shift, which I was initially dreading but now really like.  I sleep in pretty late and still have time to check my Facebook and email, eat staff lunch, and pack dinner before starting work.  During those hours, we do a combination of turning over rooms and houses for the new guests who are coming in, performing "rounds" (which means cleaning the great room, hallways, and public bathrooms in the lodge and the bowling alley), and turning down rooms for the night.  I think we would all agree that turndown is the favorite activity, but unfortunately that only takes about 30 minutes total right now.  We only have five guests.  Yes, that's right.  There are approximately 40 staff members here to serve five guests.  However, three of the guests are German travel writers and the other two are a honeymooning couple, so it could be less entertaining.

The worst part about the 1-9 shift is the walk home.  Staff housing is about a mile away from the lodge, and the lodge is about a mile away from the "henhouse," which is where we store all of the thrilling housekeeping supplies, like thousands of dollars worth of mini bottles for the guest fridges and color-coordinated towels for each area of the ranch.  Since everything is so spread out over the ten square miles of the ranch, the housekeeping staff has a truck named Topper that we drive everywhere we go.  The perk of the late shift is that Topper belongs to MK and me starting around 4:30 each day, but then we have to drive Topper back to the henhouse and walk the two miles home.  Tonight was the first night we've actually walked the whole way without someone offering us a ride.  No such luck tonight.  As a reward for our workout, we got to see the two new baby horses on the way home.  They stumbled across the road right in front of us!

We were supposed to have our weekly two days off tomorrow and Tuesday, but our friend Miranda invited us to go rafting with her and some friends in Yellowstone on Wednesday and Thursday.  Lucky for us, we have an awesome boss who switched up our schedule, and now we are free to go!  Next time I post, I promise to update you on the trip.  Sadly, Miranda is leaving the ranch after that trip.  She got a job in Missoula as a tennis instructor and is making a lot more than we make here, so she thought the opportunity was too good to pass up.  But she swore that this would not be the end of our friendship.  We actually think we'll see her more now because we were working complete opposite shifts for the last week and rarely saw each other.  Plus, since MK and I always have the same days off and Miranda can choose her own hours as a tennis coach, we can go on fun trips together (Miranda has a lakehouse nearby), so it's not too heartbreaking.

Til Yellowstone,
Claire