As I watch the mosquitoes swarm outside my favorite (the only) cafe window in downtown Wisdom, I can’t help but think how far I am from home. Home has become a strange concept since I really don’t have one. I have a temporary position that will end at some point, my belongings are in storage and my furry family are at their Redondo Beach summer home. My friends I miss terribly, more than I ever even imagined. Montanans ask me where I’m from and I say Los Angeles (a shortened version), whereas in Los Angeles when people ask where I’m from, I say the suburbs of Chicago. Since people in Los Angeles are usually from somewhere else, this isn’t a big deal, people in Montana aren’t usually. Most that I ask, are from Missoula.
Everyone I’ve met, and there are many, have been kind and curious about my story. I get to meet a lot of people since I work the desk in a visitor center at Big Hole National Battlefield. 100+ peeps, on a good day. I have become very attached to the park I work at and what it represents; the Nez Perce Indian’s and their legacy and history. I have had to learn their culture very intimately, so I can perform my job as an interpretive ranger intern. There is so much to learn and everyday is an opportunity to make a difference. Every week is an adventure, since there is so much newness all around me, not to mention long days where the sun stays out until 9:30pm.
So I’m going to say it all in pictures… My month and a half in Montana so far…
Destination: Wisdom, Big Hole National Battlefield, Dillon and Jackson
Destination: Gold Bug Trail and Hot Springs, Idaho
So I guess, the pinnacle of hot tubs is at the gold bug and nothing will compare now. I might believe this. After a night of camping, we stopped in the town diner and our waitress told us about this gold bug trail and hot spring, just outside of Salmon, Idaho. Since we had the day off, Kelly, Bessie and I went for it. We had to stop at the chicken egg lady’s store to get clarification on our directions to turn at the green house. I thought it would be secluded, since it was so tricky to get to, but there were many people there, including one naked man that made it all awkward. The hike was HARD! as we made our way up scree, steps and switchbacks, but worth it in the end. Especially when the rain cloud rolled in and sprinkled on us. There are two tubs, one hotter than the other, that stick out from this waterfall. The photos do not justify the beauty…
Destination: Hamilton, Blodgett Canyon, Mono Lake
Destination: Bannack State Park, field trip and site visit
Bannack is this cool little ghost town that’s not a ghost town, about an hour away from our park. As part of our Interpretation training, we visited the park as a group. There was a huge flood that washed through the town last year and you couldn’t even tell – They did a great job of fixing everything. I loved being able to go into all the buildings, each with their own unique history. Like, the saloon – where I decided that if I were to be alive during that time, I’d be a soiled dove that would only dance and drink whiskey!
Destination: Pioneer Highway Scenic Drive
For about 50 miles, the scenic drive takes you through Elk Horn Hot Springs and the Crystal Park as well as tons of trail heads and campgrounds. It is real purty but every thing in Montana seems to be. I saw a moose in the Moose Park and damned myself for not bringing my binoculars. The Crystal Park is a place where you an go and dig for crystals, legally. I borrowed a screen and a shovel from our nice maintenance peeps at our park and set out to dig. Whoa. I surprised myself when I got OBSESSED with finding crystals. This must be how gold diggers/miners must feel when they look for gold. I was dehydrated, starving and hot but I didn’t give a shit! I had snot running down my nose and my plumbers crack hanging out… I was on a crystal mission! It didn’t matter! I only found small ones and ones attached to rocks and made the mistake of asking a guy on my way out, what he found. He said a 4 inch amethyst and I got so jealz. I then went to Elk Horn Hot (Slime) Springs and will never go back there. I did make it my mission to go to all the hot tubs in the area and so I had to go to this one but it needs a lot of TLC for my fancy ass to enjoy it. A little to rugged for me. But they did have this amazing “sauna” that was a small room of a hot tub with a buddha fountain. I couldn’t wear my glasses because they would fog up so I thought it was a buddha fountain and that it was amazing but I guess I can’t really tell for sure, since I’m blind. I camped at the Grasshopper right next door to the springs and had a lovely time. The campground hosts came to welcome me and asked if I needed help putting up my tent! Then my one and only neighbor came over and introduced herself and said if I needed anything to holler. WTF! Such nice people here in Montana!!!!
Destination: Pintler Falls, First Hot Dog Party