“And I says ‘This here winter is going to be rough, by the end of it we’re going to see some people heading out of here’. Sure enough, I was right.”
It feels like the end of a feel-good 80’s movie:
Screen fades to black and synth music comes on] Karlie ended up in at a hula bar in Hawai’i [flash picture of cocktail wielding woman whirling flaming poi balls, fade to black] … Jaime finally finished his book on non-state actors in the international realm [man triumphantly holding up tome of a thesis heavy enough to break the back of a small animal/ multiple children, fade to black] … Clarice decided to patent her mixology for instant UTI relief to wild fanfare in the feminist community [flash to another cocktail wielding woman surrounded by other women sporting crew-cuts in a Portland bookstore, fade to black] … and as for me… well I’ve just been biding my time with the wilderness.
Too much has taken place since January, the most notable of which was being laid off and evicted within 5 days of each other.
The winter really kicked it into high gear once February started. The snowstorms became commonplace and turned the landscape into a skiier/snowboarder heaven. Unfortunately, I had surgery for deQuervain’s release on my hand and wasn’t allowed to do much physical activity.
The boss came late February after we had been pounded for weeks by snowstorms and Moose Lake Road had turned into one large snow drift. By the end of the week everyone was planning to enjoy a night of Mardi Gras festivities hosted by our Louisiana native and was itching to get off work. To make a long story much shorter and drama-less a car got stuck in a drift, the boss ordered us back, and we were essentially forced to spend the night on the ranch.
We faced temperatures of 10 below the following day, and driven by the desire for some fresh gumbo, the Michigander and myself decided that if the cars couldn’t make it, then it was time to hoof it. Act up or shut up. With the help of Stu and his snowmobile, the three of us hopscotched down the 11.6 miles of road. Two of us would ride on the machine while the third walked, then one person would come back for the straggler to advance a bit more down the stretch of iced and snow-drifted roadway. The worst was felt when riding the sled; 30 mph winds would whip exposed skin and it felt as if velcro straps were being plied from your face.
Two and a half hours later we were greeted by a rancher who helped us pull the downed truck out of a ditch and soon after we could see the plow burling through snowdrifts in our direction. We triumphantly strolled down the icy-road as Ms. Louisiana turned the corner, horn blaring and blue heeler turning cyclones in the back seat. Kurt Russell may have escaped from New York, but he had nothing on fortress Moose Lake Road.
A few weeks passed until another bomb was dropped upon us. The layoff of 4 senior staff and subsequent actions that removed most others. I refuse to embellish upon these events as they do not deserve any more fanfare… but I will give this:
If you are reading this, for the sake of the organization that you founded and for the thousands of members who contribute monetarily, the interns who burn their retinas for 400 hours every summer, and the staff who pick up their lives to keep the gears oiled, step aside. Project Vote Smart will die with you. Please read the symptoms found in this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founder’s_syndrome and hurriedly prescribe yourself some self-medication.
I have since been living between the couches of Philipsburg, home of Aunt Kris and Uncle Ray in Billings, drove back to Hermosa Beach, and returned to Philipsburg. There was hope of gaining employment at Montana State University in Bozeman but unfortunately that proposition dried up.
There’s probably a question on many of your minds right now to which I can provide an answer: No, I am not about to hit the road again with an outstretched thumb, as tempting as the proposition might be.
I will, however, be living in the wilderness of Montana. It might be difficult for some to comprehend, but for those who have ever truly loved a place, it is those who will understand my action. And I don’t mean “I visited Fondon and I loved it!” or “Mellowstone National Park was spectacular!”, not in the slightest. The love I’m speaking of includes the roughed edges, grit, and pain along with the rainbows and cerulean sky. You need to give back to that place as much as you take from it.
Hopefully I’ll be better about updating with the forest chronicles.