Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I realize it's been a while since I wrote. It was my best intentions to continue with an everyday update, but I don't think that is possible. I keep planning my blogs, but never find the time to upload pictures and type everything out. So, from now on, I will try my best to update things as soon as possible...which may be a few days. No biggie.
Today, I made history...
Perhaps it was just my own history, but it still meant a lot. I applied for my first permanent National Park Service job. I applied for a GS-7/9 (supervisory position level), Park Ranger- Interpretation job at Everglades National Park. It is a term position, technically not to exceed 13 months, but they are hoping to extend the position to 4 years. I'm not sure how I like the 4 years thing. I've never been locked into a position before and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm some what hesitant to do it, but I might as well drop my resume in the batch. I'd like to see how I do when I compete against other similar people....Ok, I want to know how I match up. Can I get an interview? Or can I even qualify? How will I rate? Either way, I'm somewhat looking forward to the results.
There is also the issue of: When is this job taking place? When would it start? Do I get time off?(to work a summer season?) These questions I hope to ask the hiring official tomorrow. I contacted her today, but only received a voice mail about the job details...crappy cell phone coverage for some reason. Tomorrow I will know more answers.
It's like a rollercoaster here. Our interpretive staff are arriving left and right. The stress of handling training materials, preparations, plans, etc is starting to weigh down. I'm not worried, but I still have so many details I want to figure out before we hit the ground running during training. It is thoroughly exciting, getting to meet everyone for the first time. I think we are going to have an AWESOME season...I can tell already.
Wish me luck! We officially start training on Thursday! One more day til then!
Weather: Cool, Partly sunny, 50's
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Bears, bears, bears. Every time I’ve seen a bear outside my apartment, it jostles me just a bit. I’m usually sitting on my phone and all of the sudden I say, “Oh my god, there’s a bear…can I let you go.” It’s not a frequent phrase you hear on the phone, so I’m sure my boyfriend gets a kick out of it when I use it, THREE OR FOUR TIMES! Last night at about 8:40pm, I saw a black bear, of cinnamon color just sauntering across the street.
It didn’t seem to mind that there was a car there or a trailer. It just moseyed around for a bit. I grabbed the camera and snapped a few photos before I yelled and chased it off. It ran behind the trailer and into the bushes. THEN, it came back around the trailer and walked along the brushline. I continued to yell and holler to chase it out of the housing area. It ran parallel to the apartment buildings and into the brush. At this time we had about 5 people hollering and trying to get it out of the housing area. It went around the back of the apartment building and we continued to chase it out of the housing area.
In full motion, running away.
Now I thought the bear was gone…but NO! About 5-10 minutes later, the bear re-appeared. This time it was walking towards my apartment door. I freaked out because I only had the screen door between me and him. So I tried banging on the metal bottom of my door, and the bear ran for the tree in front of my apartment. I banged and banged and nothing. He peaked around to see what was going on.
Eventually, it ran out to another tree in the center of a circle drive, and treed itself.
In the tree. It was starting to slide down it too, loosing grip.
Now here’s where it gets complicated… An NPS employee arrived and told us to move back to our houses and after the bear comes down—we’ll ambush and chase it off. It kinda worked, but the bear still went toward the housing compound. I chased off with a few employees (all in my slippers). We tried our best to chase the bear up and over a hillside, but he did NOT want to go!
Weather: Warm, partly cloudy, but sunny, mid 50’s.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Last night we had a “ladies night.” Which only consists of a handful of women bringing food dishes and beer together to hang out and chat. It was great. I took some hummus and bread for hors d'oeuvres. We also had salad, goulash, chili, veggie burgers, and ginger muffins. It was great! This is one of the signs that almost everyone is back. We had about 7 ladies show up. I remember when no one lived near my apartment…and now it’s bustling with 10-12 cars and employees. It’s somewhat comforting to know that I’m not all alone in this apartment building!
We had some stimulating conversation about climate change, why not to buy an iPod…which I don’t agree with. The argument was this: People in 1st world countries rely upon 3rd world countries (or “developing countries” if you want to be politically correct) to build and produce these devices…and before long they are replaced with better, newer versions…and causing more waste than necessary. Well, boo. I don’t think so. I buy less CDs, therefore less waste because of packaging. So I’m saving landfills from filling up. It takes no shipping, so I’m saving fossil fuels. And I’m using a paperless form of purchasing my songs and albums, iTunes. I really enjoy my iPod and I’ll fight for it!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Last night was so warm that I snapped this photo of my thermometer at about 5:30pm.
My thermometer, @ 72!!!
I can’t imagine how warm it was earlier in the day. I even put on a dress! It is nice that we have warm weather, but it’s also very scary. The glaciers in
The glaciers are said to be “gone” by 2020. “Gone” meaning they will no longer be considered glaciers…they will be too small or too thin to be “moving.” Think of a glacier as a conveyer belt: the snow gets piled on top, it adds up, it gets so thick that it’s own weight forces it to move like a belt…then the bottom part of the belt spews out rock, debris and water as it melts and moves. These are some of the most destructed forces on the planet, and they’re in my backyard—A-MAZ-ING!!
Weather: HOT! Sunny with a pleasant breeze!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I can’t say there was much to remember from this day….it was another day at the St. Mary Visitor Center. I guess the biggest thing was the wind. It’s always windy in St. Mary. Because the Continental Divide risen so high to the west, all the wind dips back down the valley on the east side. Then it hits the
One of the reasons I mention the wind is because of our flags. We have two flag poles, one for the
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Today we opened the St. Mary Visitor Center for the first day of business of the 2009 season. It was thoroughly exhilarating! The Canadian holiday, Victoria Day, caused our visitation to increase…we ended the day with 170 visitors. That’s a pretty good number considering the park has very few services. Speaking of services, local businesses are opening left and right. Everything at the
Everything went smoothly and we were happy to announce to our visitors that the
Myself and another interpreter took an evening cruise up the road and viewed all the huge piles of snow. There was an amazing avalanche shoot that newly ripped through the mountain side, on down over the road, and below the road. It was just above St. Mary Falls Trailhead. It was crazy how many trees were taken down. The easiest way to describe how many trees there were, is to describe how many chainsaw cuts I saw…probably 50-60 cuts. Huge trees and little trees were dragged over the road. The avalanche came off of
Weather: Sunny and warm! 60's-70's!!!!
Friday, May 15, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
There were so many things I saw today that I don’t know where to start. I packed up early and headed to Many Glacier to paddle
- An awesome view of
, Lake Sherburne
- a solitary big-horned sheep ewe (females),
- the Many Glacier Hotel in all it’s grandeur,
- a group of roughly a dozen big-horned sheep ewes,
- tracks that could have been someone’s dog…but could have been a bobcat, coyote or a mountain lion, I'll let you judge. My guess is a coyote. Here is a comparison:
- an aspen tree freshly eaten by a beaver,
- lots of moose tracks,
- several Common mergansers on the lake,
- the Many Glacier dock…docked on the other side of the lake,
- ice on Swiftcurrent lake, I even got to kayak on it! Ice Kayaking, a new sport! Just kidding.
- a big-horned sheep ram (male),
- a big-horned sheep ram sniffing a ewe’s butt…funny I know, but it happened,
- about 25 mountain goats sitting up high,
- and a grey jay sitting on a picnic table.
This is all proof that spring is here! The wildlife are out, the ice is melting and the sun is shining!
Weather: Partly cloudy, low 40’s, wind 10-15mph (roughly), the wind and cold temps together almost convinced me not to paddle the lake! I’m really glad I did paddle!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I don’t mind living on an Indian Reservation. Technically I live in the park, but just across the creek (within viewing distance) is the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. There are some sore subjects between the park and the Blackfeet. I don’t want to go into detail, but in some ways we are inhabiting their land. The
The only thing I have a slight problem with, is the way outsiders are treated. I have a Toyota Corolla, with
When I got outside, it was a different story. I had a gentleman standing against the wall right by my car. It only took a few seconds for him to come over and ask for “help.” At the same time, a younger gentleman came out of no where to ask for “help,” too. I’ve seen beggars in Browning before. They are usually at the liquor store begging for a drink. The liquor store is an interesting cultural experience. The store is part bar and part liquor store. The store is really just a small room on the end of the building with shelves of liquor, protected by bars and a sales person behind the counter. I know there are stereotypes of Native Americans, but I’d like to think of a better life. So, it was hard to have beggars asking me for money at the grocery store! Some people have cash ready for situations like this, but I just can’t. The first gentleman had a cane and he looked like middle class. The second gentleman smelled like booze and looked a bit disheveled. I wasn’t going to give money to either of them…so I didn’t. I climbed back into my white-American-girl-car and drove back to the sanctuary of my country.
I wanted to talk about this story because I felt a sense of guilt. Guilty that the
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I was happy to share a quick drive down the road with another lead interpreter, to view the elk herds. We saw a total of nearly 100 elk!! The Two Dog Flats area had about 46 elk hanging out, peacefully grazing. The next meadow to the west had about 40 some elk grazing and bedding down for the night. The next meadow to the west had 9 elk grazing in a small group. There were also several others we saw in groups of 2. I’m sure there were more than the elk, so that’s almost 100!! Crazy.
The Rocky Mountain Elk on Two Dog Flats.
I took a photo of one elk that was really pregnant. I think I saw the baby’s leg sticking out from her belly. It’s no wonder that she was staring at us!! She probably couldn’t run very fast from any predators! I didn’t notice she was that pregnant until I downloaded my photos. It inspired me to research elk and their biology.
The very pregnant elk...I think I see a leg sticking out! She was "mid-chew" in this photo!
Elk are one of the largest mammals in
Only male (bull) elks have antlers. They are made of bone and can grow at the rate of 1 inch per day! A they can have eight or more tines (or points) on each antler and the number has little to do with the maturity of a particular animal. That surprised me! The formation and retention of antlers is testosterone-drive. In early winter, the drop of testosterone causes the shedding. The testosterone level is effected by the drop in pheromones in the environment. I’ve heard two Glacier stories of a bull elk that still had his antlers in the spring—very strange.
During the rut, females (cows) gather around a dominant bull elk (usually around 8 years old) in a group of 20 or more females, called a harem. The estrus cycle of a female elk is very short, only one or two days. Wikipedia says there are often a dozen or more failed attempts. Similar to a Grizzly Bear's delayed gestation, the elk reproduction is effected by their weight. Strangely, reproduction most likely occurs when the cow is 450 pounds. That's a pretty heavy animal! They should be having their young very soon. When they do, they will isolate themselves from the herd until the calf is large enough to escape predators. I’m wondering if the elk that were by themselves were about to have (or had) calves? Mother Nature is so cool! It all takes place every year without any human interfering! That’s awesome!
I feel very fortunate to experience the wildlife first hand! Thanks Glacier for being protected!
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 40's (Sometimes I wonder if my thermometer is broken, it stays at 40 degrees!)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Is today really Tuesday? It seems like Thursday or some day that is later in the week—it feels like I’ve done more work this week for it to be a Tuesday. Either way, it’s Tuesday. It was a good day, too. We had a jumbled mess of employees showing up at the St. Mary Visitor Center. We had backcountry rangers, information technology guys, bookstore folks, media contractors, revegetation crews, and a few of our seasonal interpretive staff. By the afternoon things settled into a more calm disoriented mess, but we still got things done. It’s really hard to calm everyone down and get work done, when there are new things happening. New things are happening and new people are arriving. It was a good Tuesday.
The weather did prove to distract us a bit from our work. It decided blizzard a bit. In the
Those were the two big events today: chaos and blizzard…it was a good mix.
Weather: 40’s-30’s Snow, rain and wind. Some random sunshine, too.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Today was pretty uneventful. I went to work, worked, and came home. It was raining up the St. Mary valley but didn’t reach the housing area until 5pm. It’s supposed to do this for the next 5 or 6 days. It’s spring.
One event that is notable is this: I was supposed to work on Sunday. Oops! I didn’t have a copy of the schedule for this week so I didn’t know until I came home from work today. I finally took a look at the schedule and realize, hmmmm, I was scheduled to work yesterday. Last season I did the scheduling, and kept up with it pretty well. This year the task was passed to another lead interpreter…so I guess I’m not keeping up with it. Oh well, I’ll figure something out.
Tomorrow is the first day we will have 7 staff members working, instead of 3 that has been the norm for 3 weeks. I think it will be a challenge to find something for everyone to do. Which can be a very good thing! I’m happy that we are so prepared that we are able to offer our staff preparation time for their programs! Last year at this time, I was just arriving for my first day of work. We also didn’t have access to the
Weather: 40’s Windy. Afternoon rain, but some mist all day.
I feel like I fit three days into one. In the morning I got some housekeeping chores completed. By 11:00 I was all packed up with my kayak on my car. I packed a cooler with several beers, a sandwich, cheese curds, and an orange. I hit the lake at Rising Sun boat dock. The forecast said 8 mph winds, from the south. It was warm and mostly sunny. All in all, a good chance to get out on the lake.
This was probably my third or fourth trip on St. Mary Lake. It’s just TOO WINDY to get out and paddle very often. The wind has kept me from paddling very far up the lake, so today I took advantage of the low wind speeds.
Mountains Left to Right: Mahtotopa Mountain, Little Chief Mountain, Dusty Star Mountain, Gunsight Mountain (barely visible), Fusillade Mountain (front and center), Heavy Runner (darker, low mountain), Reynolds Mountain, Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.
I made it up to Rainbow Rock, which is a landmark for viewing Sexton Glacier from the boat tours. It’s also rare because the whole valley was carved out by glaciers…so why would their be an island in the lake? The educated guess is this: Limestone. The lower layers of rock are Altyn Limestone, a very resistant rock. So, the glaciers theoretically, could have carved around the islands like Rainbow Rock and Wild Goose Island. Pretty amazing to me. Regardless, Rainbow Rock was a welcomed resting spot. I got out, tethered my kayak to my ankle and enjoyed the view, my sandwich and a beer. It was great.
Enjoying a Bud Light...the freshest beer they sell at the local Grocery.
When I returned I gathered a few hiking buddies and walked down the road, across the meadows (in front of the St. Mary Visitor Center), and walked along the St. Mary lakeshore.
We saw moose tracks the entire shoreline. We also saw LOTS of signs of the elk herd that usually lives there during the winter. For some reason they have moved on to greener pastures. All we saw of the elk was hoof prints, elk highways (5 lanes wide), lots of poop, and even a few leg bones from the less fortunate elk. We thought of a neat book idea: “If I were an ungulate….” and we filled in the blank. Ungulates are hoofed animals, like cows, elk, deer, sheep, goats and moose. We came up with a few good ones. “If I were an ungulate I would live with other ungulates for safety.” “If I were an ungulate I would poop where ever I wanted!” “If I were an ungulate I would copulate.” Just kidding, but they’d have to...to carry on their genes! Towards the end of the hike we started saying, “If I were a homo sapien sapien, I would walk in the foot steps of an elk.” And that left a good picture in our heads!
The last leg of my day was sharing conversation and a meal with another lead interpreter here in St. Mary. She returned for the first time this season and it was good to see another friendly face. We shared my leftover Serrano’s and had a few beers while we had stimulating conversations about the season to come!
Needless to say, I’m pooped!
Weather: Warm, upper 50’s, partly cloudy/sunny.
Today I was presented with an opportunity to go skiing…well, kind of. I was asked to come along with a group that was going skiing, but I was not offered skis. I decided to go hiking here in the St. Mary Valley instead.
I started off hiking down the Red Eagle trail, which leads to either the Beaver Pond loop, Red Eagle Lake, or Cut Bank valley via Triple Divide Pass. I took the trail to the junction of the Beaver Pond loop, maybe 1.7 miles. This took a considerable amount of time because of the snow and because I was shutter-happy. I walked through a “river” on the beginning of the trail and then on snow packed (deep) through the marshy area before the lake (and the former site of St. Mary Chalet).
The trail traverses the right side of the photo!
I passed a couple that looked like they didn’t hike very much, and the kind gentleman said, “There’s still a lot of snow up there.” I just said, “Great! Sounds good!” He must have thought I was crazy. But I guess that was kinda the point. Sometimes people don’t think positively about things like snow. They see it as a barrier to their “easy hike.” Or a barrier to their dry shoes!
I welcomed the challenge and was happy to get the workout. I was able to observe everything around me because I was walking so slow through the snow. I saw bear tracks, moose tracks, deer or elk (I wasn’t sure), pasque flowers blooming, black-backed woodpeckers, western grebes, an American coot (maybe), Barrow’s Golden-eye, and Mountain blue birds on the way back. It was a nice hike and I enjoyed the exercise and fresh mountain air!
I wasn't sure it was a coot or not.
This is the best photo I got. They were pretty far out on the lake.
I saw both male and female and probably 4 or 5 total.
I took 104 pics of these woodpeckers! It was all worth it!
I won’t go into much detail, but, I ate at Serrano’s, in East Glacier and it was awesome! I only ate a third of the “Serrano’s Burrito,” and had 2 margaritas on the rocks. It was a good day!
Weather: Mostly cloudy, afternoon showers (that I missed totally!) Upper 50’s
Friday, May 8, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
I always like listening to Stevie Nicks belt out the lyrics to “Landslide.”
As I sit at my computer this evening, with a beer at my side and the sun setting low, I start to think about some of the lyrics. One that jumped out at me, though briefly, was: “I’m getting older, too.” I know I’m not really that old, a mere 27 years old, but it kinda hit me that I was in fact getting older—I’m almost 30. I remember when both of my brothers turned 30. One of my brothers is 5 years older than me, and the other is 3 years older. It didn’t seem like a big deal when that happened. So, why should it feel like a big deal for me?
Either way, I love Landslide and it’s lyrics. I don’t know what it is, but it totally makes sense to me. I’m adding the lyrics here to share with you.
Landslide by Stevie Nicks
I took my love, I took it down
I Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down
Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Mmm, mmm, I don’t know
Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm
Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older and I'm getting older too
I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I'm getting older too
Oh, I'm getting older too
Awh, take this love, take it down
Awh, climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide bring it down
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide bring it down
Oh, the landslide bring it down
I also want you to know that I just learned one of the lines (that I was getting wrong all along): “But time makes you bolder.” I think this added a new respect for the song. I really believe this line.
I am a bit confused though. What does it mean when it says: “Children get older and I’m getting older too.” I know she dedicates this to her dad, so I’m guessing she is talking about herself… “children getting older,” …but then you look at the next phrase and its: “I’m getting older too.” ---So who is the children? I thought it was her! Am I confusing you?
Anywho, I really relate to the lyrics because it is talking about climbing a mountain and turning around…and seeing your reflection in the snow covered hills.
I’ve been there. And it feels good. To climb a mountain, whether figuratively or literally, is a feat in itself. And that challenge is what draws me back to Glacier each year. The “unfinished business” of climbing mountains. Whether it is mountains of rock or the mountains of a challenge in life. I love it. I decided that this year my reason for being at Glacier is this:
“I want a challenge. I want to persevere and succeed.”
Ps. My big boss used to play this song at the end of his evening slide show presentations in Glacier in the 70’s. Great minds think alike.
Pss. I also really love Silver Springs, but that’s another story.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
On my way home from work I sometimes walk through the Dorms to get to my mailbox up the road. Today I walked through the halls, admiring the quietness. Soon these rooms will be filled up with seasonal workers of all sorts. The hallway will bustle with noise of guys and girls walking up and down. Some might be dressed in comfy clothes for the casual atmosphere, some might still be in their uniforms-ready for work. I mention uniforms because I always thought it strange when we are required to sign a sheet that says: You will wear a uniform. Last time I checked, it's kinda fun to wear a ranger uniform. People kinda admire you...well, maybe. So, I don't really have to sign a sheet, I'll kindly obey the rules.
The funny thing about uniforms is that there are all these specific requirements, but in reality, you need to survive the day...so don't wear the wrong thing! For the first two weeks I was wearing 3 jackets just to stay warm. This week I wore 2 jackets, and doned the ranger flat hat for the first time.
I spoke with another employee after work today about the seasonal attire. I was wearing my ranger flat hat, with the plastic "hat condom" cover that you put on, to protect the "straw" from the rain. Flat hats can warp quite a bit, so to avoid that, use a "hat condom" to protect it from the elements. (Sounds like a commercial for hat condoms!!)
So, there I was, with my hat condom on, talking to my friend. He asked: "So, you keep the hat cover on, even when it's not raining." Well, I hadn't even noticed it wasn't raining. I just replied: "Why take it off, when I'll just have to put it back on." He replied with: "Yeah, guess you're right, that is the seasonal attire." What he meant was, during the beginning of the summer season, it rains so much (on and off) that the rangers need to keep the hat condom on their flat hats. I agree with him wholly--the seasonal attire: The image of rangers walking around with big fluffy coats and green pants (most of the time wearing the wrong sizes), and flat hats with hat condoms. Ah, spring has arrived.
The other image I have of rangers walking around is this: They are fighting the brutal wind, holding onto their hats and running for cover. Today this image appeared. The wind blew, the snow, sleet and rain came down, and the wind blew some more. It was crazy! BUT, that's another sign of St. Mary, Montana...blistery, brutal, blowing wind! Gotta love it!
Weather: Wind, wind, and more wind...plus some snow in the a.m. (nothing stuck), sleet, and some rain too! High 30's-40's.
P.S. I just realized my profile picture shows me in the "seasonal attire" sans the hat condom....BUT, I'm holding onto my hat, it must have been spring!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Lately, a great sense of completion comes with each work day. I feel like we are well prepared for the season ahead of us. I may not move mountains, but all the little things start to add up and it brings on that sense of completion. Which is good, because I come home with a feeling of success. Today we had some major mountains moved. A few contractors from West Glacier completed several big tasks at the St. Mary Visitor Center. For one, they put in all the brand new cushioned auditorium seats. This is a big deal. The previous coziness of the chairs consisted of hard wooden seats and backs. Now the seats are cushioned and it will make everyone sooo comfortable! Two, they mounted the 64 inch Flat screen TV onto the wall. This is a big thing, and it usually takes someone a lot of thinking, and looking at it…before they actually do it! This was completed in just a few hours, like it should have been! Third, they put up all our new signs. We needed to clarify a.) where the restrooms are located, b.) which desk is information and which desk is backcountry camping permits, and c.) where exactly the auditorium is located. It was a success. I may not move mountains, but collectively we can together!
The weather is still spring-like with the mountains fogged in, with the wind blowing, and little spurts of rain coming down…but the sun does peak out every now and again! In fact, I saw my first rainbow yesterday on my way to the
The elk herd is still hanging out in the St. Mary Flats, the prairie in front of the
That’s about it from Glacier, things are slowly progressing and people are starting to show up. Three of our staff members show up this weekend, and many other members of other divisions are here…such as trail crew, visitor use assistants (fees), law enforcement rangers, and maintenance folks. It’s beginning to look a lot like summer season!
Weather: Upper 30’s- lower 40’s. WINDY, sprinkles every now and again. And SUN every now and again.