Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Busy like a horse pooping

Things have been cookin' over the past week here at Mountain Sky.  The dining room manager is gone for ten days, so that leaves me in charge.  Nothing like getting thrown in the deep end.

That meant I had to work for seven days straight and I had to be around the dining room a lot to make sure everyone knew what to do and all that jazz.  Fun stuff!  Really.

To give you some background, here is how things work here at Mountain Sky-there are managers for each department, such as housekeeping, bar, dining room, kids program, groundskeeping, etc.  The bulk of employees are called "all-arounds," who work in rotations through each department.  This means people know a little about a lot, but need to be reminded about all the little details.  So I had to double check stuff all this week, although all of the people who are here, returnees at this point, do a good job and know what they are doing.

Oh, and you should know that I get to ring a giant bell for each meal.  Awesomeness.

And if you've been around horses at all, you will know that they poop a lot, hence the title of this post.  I have been hiking and running on trails around the ranch, and they seem to be about half mud and half horse excrement, which is fun, and makes for fancy footwork.  AKA they poop a whole lot to cover so many miles of trail with their special presents.  You get used to it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Yesterday I visited Yellowstone with a couple of other people from Mountain Sky, two of whom worked in the park last year.  So we had tour guides.  The north entrance is about half an hour from Mountain Sky, so for out here it is considered just down the road.

Within the first ten minutes in the park we spotted some buffalo (buffalo are actually called bison).  They were chillin' on a patch of grass in the middle of the small park town of Mammoth, with cars buzzing around everywhere.  They own the park and really just do what they want-walk on lawns, stop traffic, chase people.
I did not get closer than what the picture shows; they are intimidating beasts and can run at up to 40 mph.  I also heard a lot of stories from my friends who had worked in Yellowstone about people getting too close to Buffalo and getting chased (my friend also petted a bison once).  Rangers will also yell at you and can even ticket you, which it turns out is pretty serious, as any crime on Federal property is a felony.

In another spot int he park we saw a momma bison with a newborn calf.  The afterbirth was still hanging out of the mother, so the calf, which they call red dogs for their color, was no more than 24 hours old.

From here we continued through the park and saw some sweet geysers, including Old Faithful.  Another nearby geyser called Beehive actually showed it up, but it was still sweet.  Japanese tourists were everywhere and were freaking out when the geysers went off.  They all tried to take each others pictures in the short window of the eruption and pointed and yelled.  Great sideshow.
The lodge by Old Faithful was sweet too.  It is the original one built in 1901, and has some sweeeet woodwork.
On the way back out of the park we stopped and saw lake Yellowstone, and then the namesake for which the park is named, a jaw-dropping, enormous gorge.  Like everything out here, the park is enormous, and all of the features are too.  Big valleys, big lakes, big mountains, big beastly buffalo.  Awesome.
 This relatively short post does not reflect the fact that it takes 2.5 to 3 hours to drive from the North entrance to Old Faithful and back up.  If you have not been to Yellowstone, it is one HUGE park.  We left at 12:30 and got back at 9pm.  Most of the time was spent driving, with a few stops here and there and one major one to wait for Old Faithful.
I can't wait to go back on another day off and do some good hiking and explore more.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A day in the life

Wow, long day.

I got up at 5:50am today to work breakfast, which involves setting up and breaking down the buffets for both the staff and guest meals.  That was done a little before 11:00, so I got on the internet for a bit, then ate lunch with the staff.  Then at 12:30 I found Randy, the guy in charge of maintenance, to see what my 'project' shift entailed.  Turns out this meant raking grass around the entrance and some of cabins for four and a half hours.  I raked up little piles, put them in a wheel barrow, and then ferried them to a truck to go dump in back of the ranch.  Repeat many times.

Right now I am exhausted.  But it feels good.

I enjoyed college and all, but there is a huge difference between that and really working.  Sitting in class for a couple of hours, followed by more sitting and studying and maybe finally a good run is good and all, but working is great.  I like this change of pace.  Physical labor makes you feel great at the end of the day as oppose to just working your brain.  I have only been sitting for perhaps two hours today, and the rest I was standing, walking, lifting, carrying, raking, and hauling.  Then I went on a 5 mile trail run with another guy here.  Needless to say, the altitude kicked my butt, but I did manage to keep up.  Then I went and sat in the hot tub with a cold la croix and gazed out at the mountain peaks and life was better again.  It is hard to believe that I am getting paid and fed to live here.

Tomorrow is my day off and there might be a trip down the road to Yellow Stone in order.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Some pics of the ranch and such.  Not a bad place to be for the summer, eh?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Big Sky State

I am here and somewhat settled in, but first of all, I think the great plains deserve a shout out.  They are flat and never-ending, but pretty this time of year; they were just becoming green as we drove through.  Being accustomed to living in the forests of the midwest, the vastness of seeing from horizon to horizon is a huge contrast.  The world seems bigger.

In South Dakota Dad and I stopped at Mount Rushmore.  The heads are smaller than I imagined, but impressive nonetheless.  Random fact: George Washington's nose is taller than the others' by about two feet.  Other notable stops included the world's largest corn palace in Mitchel, SD, and Wal Drug.

Montana is incredible.  Let me explain.  Our second night, we stayed in Billings, which is the largest city in Montana, with a population of over 100,000.  Our hotel was one block from downtown, and yet the air still smelled like cow.  Gotta love it.  Cows are everywhere.  Billings sits in a valley, and the sheer cliffs on either side, which are miles away, make the city seem small in comparison.  Everything out here seems bigger and I seem to be smaller. When they say that it is the "big sky state,' it really is true.

Mountain Sky, the resort where I am working is located in the Paradise Valley, just north of Yellowstone.  It is nestled on the side of the valley, four miles up a dirt road, and alongside a rushing stream, so the sound of water is never far off.  Two ridges run down from the mountains on either side of the ranch, so it is basically surrounded on three sides by the still-snowcapped mountains.  I have not had time yet to explore the ranch, but that will come soon enough.  It took me until day three to actually start unpacking my stuff because I have either been working every waking hour or too tired to move.  Everything in good time.

I will take some pictures of the ranch the next sunny day we get.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I am done with college.

This morning I wrote the conclusion to my final economics paper on China, biked down the library, printed it out, and handed it over to Professor Steen with a big grin on my face.  He told me he was "actually looking forward to reading it, unlike some of the other ones," which was pretty nice of him to say.  Then I ran outside and literally jumped for joy in the glorious spring sunshine.

That is how my college experience ended.

To celebrate, I got a cappuccino from JP's and strolled around downtown, looking at all of the tulips in a bit of a nostalgic mood.  I didn't reflect on my college experience though.  The cappuccino brought me back to my semester in Spain when we would go out after class a couple days a week to have a cafe con leche (same as a cappuccino).  Getting one of those for a euro was awesome and so good.  It is too bad you have to pay 3 bucks for one of those in the states.  Anyway, the other thing on my mind was the tulips.  A year ago at this time I was in the Netherlands, gazing at a sea of tulips comprised of every size, height, and color imaginable.  Fields upon fields of tulips that stretched to the horizon.  Impresionante.