Sunday, July 31, 2011

i need more time

I can't believe I leave the ranch in less than two weeks!  It has been such an amazing experience...exactly what I needed after four years of hard work at Furman and before two years of (probably) even harder work at Vanderbilt.  After getting the hang of things in Housekeeping, even the work isn't that bad.  We've started to have a lot of fun with our supervisors, too.  One day last week, they drove over to the tents where I was working for no other reason but to ask me why there were cop cars at Staff Housing (because apparently I would know), and we proceeded to chat about ranch happenings for a half hour.  We work hard, but we play hard, too.

Maybe it's because MK and I planned to come out here together and I was caught up in leaving all of my Furman friends, but I never considered that I would make such great friends here.  I was worried we wouldn't be outdoorsy enough compared to all the other staff, but most people are really similar to us.  I hope we'll keep in touch.  And there might be a certain cowboy I'm a little sad about leaving...

Can you blame me when I have views like this?
And this?
And this (haha)?  Photos courtesy of Michael Chilcoat.

Post title: "More Time," by Needtobreathe

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

i'm a fighter

Big ranch news!  This post is in strict violation of the "no gossip" policy that EVERYONE definitely follows here at the Ranch at Love Creek (oops...I mean Rock).

Last night, MK and I worked the night shift (our favorite!...not), and we were taking our break, sitting in the staff lounge area with a couple of our guy friends.  All of a sudden, the Activities Coordinator comes over the radio and says there is an emergency and asks if anyone is available to break up a fight.  So of course the boys go running.  Meanwhile, MK is very concerned because someone stole half of each of our sack dinners from the fridge.

This is the scene of the crime, the Rod 'n Gun, AKA the Activities Center.  Photo courtesy of Michael Chilcoat.
So this is what went down: a large, intimidating German man was upset to see that one of his family's bikes went missing (bikes that the ranch provides for the guests, mind you).  He went down to the front desk and was yelling about the bike, so our Activities Coordinator (a sweet little blonde girl) drove him to the Rod 'n Gun to get a new one.  No big deal; the ranch owns hundreds of bikes.  After offering the German several bikes and only receiving yelling in return, another guest rides by on the German's bike.  The natural reaction is to approach the man and head butt him, correct?  Well that's what our German friend did.

Needless to say, the cops showed up, wrote a report, and the innocent victim will likely press charges.  He's a sweet southern dad here on vacation with his three boys, by the way.  The Germans were asked to leave.  Hey, it got MK and I out of two extra turn downs, so we weren't complaining.

Post title: "Fighter," by Gwyneth Paltrow

Monday, July 25, 2011

it takes the shape of a place out west

I've obviously been having way too much fun here since I haven't posted in a while.  My sincere apologies.  This is what I've been up to:

Last week, my parents came for a visit to the great state of Montana.  They met me at the ranch, and I gave them a little tour of our humble abode.  Then I showed them beautiful downtown Philipsburg.  We took a trip into The Sweet Palace, P-burg's famous candy store, to get some yummy malted milk balls.
This picture is from an earlier trip to the Sweet Palace, but it gives you the idea of its magnificence.
Then we drove to Gardiner, stopping in Bozeman for dinner.
Our view of the moon on the drive.
The next day, we drove into Yellowstone and hiked along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
First wildlife sighting of the day, and it was a black bear!

I forget what these guys are called...they're deer-like.

One of about 100 bison we saw.

One of the waterfalls on Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The larger waterfall (300 feet tall)

Dan and Jenny awkwardly framing the waterfall.

We met this man.  Then we realized his hat said Garst on it.  Apparently that's a company that has something to do with corn.

Artists' Paintpots
The next day, we woke up early to get a good hike in before we needed to leave to go back to Philipsburg.  We did a loop around a lake that passed by a petrified tree and lots of wildlife, including a buffalo just a few yards from the trail.  At one point, I was ahead of my parents and suddenly started running back up the trail toward my mom.  She thought I had seen a bear.  Not quite.  It was some sort of bird; it looked like a smaller, all grey turkey.  I guess I scared it because it started hissing and charging at me.  I was terrified.  My dad was more concerned about getting a picture of it and was disappointed that I had scared it away.  Then we saw a doe and her baby, and I was a little scared of them, too, due to the bird incident.  You never know what an intimidated mama might do!
There's the baby.

After our hike, we grabbed a burrito in Gardiner (Henry had recommended it the last time I was in Gardiner, but they were closed, so I was excited to finally experience Mexican food in Montana) and hit the road back to Philipsburg.  We met some of my friends from the ranch (MK, Lisa, Katie, and Dan) in town at Doe Brother's for dinner.  Then, Mom and Dad stayed in P-burg for the night at the lovely Broadway Hotel before their trip to Glacier National Park while my friends and I drove to Flathead Lake for the weekend.  

Lisa's cousins have a cabin at the lake that was just perfect for our weekend getaway.  We were actually there for the Flathead Cherry Festival, but ironically, there were no cherries.  We went to the festival anyway and walked around, but I would have really enjoyed a piece of cherry cobbler or something.  I really wanted to get a henna tattoo or buy a wolf shirt, but I held myself back.  The rest of our time at the lake included a lot of lounging on the dock and floating in rafts.
This is the life.

Miranda and her family were also at the lake, so we hung out with them, too.  We rode around in their jet skis, wake boarded, and I even tubed off the back of a jet ski.  Miranda's family had us over for dinner on Saturday night, which was so fun!  I made my mom's signature summer dessert (blueberry and peach crisp), and it was a hit.  

I spent my five days off in a row very well and am not even regretting it now as I am in the midst of a nine day work week.  

Post title: "Wide Open Spaces," by the Dixie Chicks

Thursday, July 7, 2011

take you for a ride on my big green tractor

This place exists in Philipsburg, MT y'all.  If you can't read the sign, you can do your laundry, take a shower, wash your car, and eat pizza here on Friday nights.
Last Friday night, MK and I finally experienced Friday Night Pizza.  Every Friday this multi-functional establishment bakes the best pizza in town, and we had yet to experience it since we had been working the late shift.  Recently, we've been working the early shift instead and now have plenty more time to do fun things with friends.  The even funnier aspect of Friday Night Pizza is that you have to call ahead and order your pizza so they don't run out of dough.
We chose Greek.  And it was incredible.
Then, we headed out to two of the three bars in Philipsburg, The White Front and The Silver Mill.
This is what downtown Pburg looks like.  A true thriving metropolis.
MK, me, and Katie amidst intense games of pool.  Katie goes to Duke.
MK, me, Ali, Dylan, and Laura (and Kris creepin' in the background).
Friday nights are always eventful in Pburg.  All the ranch staff usually goes out and takes over the bars.  We definitely stand out from the locals, but I think they secretly love it!

The weekend passed.  We worked and worked.  Then on Monday, we had the 4th of July off.  We celebrated by beginning our day with a morning six mile hike on what we call "The Loop."  You hike straight up to a place called Top of the World, which truly does feel like you're somewhere pretty important.

How could you possibly not believe in a Creator with views like this?

Laura, MK, Ali, me (missing our photographer, Gabby)

I jumped straight down.  Mk got some air.
After Top of the World, the hike takes you past where the stud horse of the ranch, Chance, hangs out with all the mares and the babies.  Apparently we're not supposed to disturb these horses, but they didn't seem to mind us.

There's nothin' like a ranch rodeo, especially a patriotic one!  We moved the rodeo from Tuesday to Monday to accomodate for the all-day red, white, and blue celebrations. 

Me with Caitlin, one of the kids' activities guides

Nancy (the ranch's unofficial photographer) had the best view in the the tractor!

Kris riding that bull again

Gabby, MK, and Ali 

Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever seen?

Ali was so happy to get on a horse for the first time in a while

We opted for shorts and "western-style" shirts to beat the heat.  Didn't save me from my wrangler tan though. 

I was singing "America the Beautiful," and Emily couldn't let that moment go to waste.

The roomies of tent 7

How could we have let this photo opp go to waste?

I'm pulling for this picture to get on the ranch website (MJ, me, Kris, Chris, MK, Emily, Ali, and Camille).
The ranch hired a bluegrass band to play at the saloon for the evening, and they set off awesome fireworks from on top of the lodge.  I was having too much fun to remember to take pictures!  After the fireworks ended, all the guests went to their rooms, and some of the staff stayed and hung out and listened to the band.  It was a pretty great way to spend the day celebrating our independence.  I am so proud and blessed to be an American!

Side note: I'm leaning just how assimilated I am into the western lifestyle.  When I was talking to Leah, Taylor, and Tyler on the phone yesterday, I had to explain what the word "wrangler" meant, and we had to pause our conversation for a dirt bike to pass by my tent.  Look at me...a city girl unfazed by country things like that!

Post title: "Big Green Tractor," by Jason Aldean

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

catching up

I feel like I have so much to tell; life on the ranch has been pretty eventful recently.  First I'll start with the pictures from our weekend at Flathead Lake a while back.  Our roommate Emily was heading into Missoula for a Ray Lamontagne concert, so we caught a ride with her and met Miranda at an amazing ice cream place called The Big Dipper.  Then, we drove up to Flathead Lake and stopped by Miranda's friend Ben's lakehouse.
Isn't it cute?  It's actually his parents' guest house.
On the property next door, there was a mama black bear and two cubs.  The mom was trapped in a big cage, and one of the babies was in a small cage next to her, but the other cub was out climbing around.  Apparently, they had been causing trouble around the neighborhood and getting in people's garbage, so the Fish and Wildlife guys came to trap them.  It was really sad because the mama bear had been tranquilized, so she wasn't making any noise, but the cubs were screaming so loud.  

We fed the cubs marshmallows.  Then, Ben's mom let the cub in the cage out.  She said she wanted him to be with his brother.  They were so happy together.  They started climbing the trees, but they never went far from their mom.
The view from Miranda's dock where we were laying out
After watching the bears for a while and eating dinner, we went to Miranda's cabin and went to sleep.  The next day, we woke up and laid out on her dock.  It was the first time it really felt like summer in Montana!

I decided that I'll continue with another post later.  Too much to blog, so little time!