All in a day’s work

My office and one of my workmates.

My office and one of my workmates.

It’s been a pretty good January for me work-wise. And by that, I mean I’ve had some really fun adventures in the name of work.

As a freelance writer, I can pitch any story I want to magazines and newspapers. It doesn’t mean they’ll take it, but they often do.

Lone Mountain Ranch

My first story took us to Lone Mountain Ranch. It’s a dude ranch in Big Sky with 85 km of impeccably groomed cross-country ski trails and 30 km of packed out snowshoe trails.

We stayed in a cozy cabin next to a creek and surrounded by trees for two nights. Days were filled with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and Scrabble. Evenings brought listening to music in the saloon, Skipbo, and amazing food.

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Owl Research Institute

Photo Jan 11, 12 22 49 PM

I was home one night and took off the next morning for Charlo, Montana – home of the Owl Research Institute (ORI). I met up with founder and owl expert, Denver Holt, and his girlfriend, Toni, for dinner. They let me spend the night in the field office, a great farmhouse surrounded by fields, the Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge, and the Flathead Indian Reservation. When I stepped out on the deck to check the stars I was serenaded by the hooting of a great horned owl.

Photo Jan 11, 11 58 13 AMThe next day we drove to Missoula to meet with a ORI researcher and volunteer, plus a photographer who is covering the story with me. We drove west of town to a big willow patch and were able to find five long-eared owls, and a saw whet owl.

This year is the 25th anniversary of their snowy owl monitoring study and the 30th anniversary of their long-eared owl monitoring project. Unfortunately, both Photo Jan 11, 12 01 52 PMpopulations seem to be declining in their study areas.

After we wound through the willows and set up nets, they captured three of the long-eared owls and the saw whet to take measurements. I was able to hold a female long-eared and stare into her big yellow eyes. She kept my hand warm while researcher Matt Larson measured wing length, weighed her, and estimated her age. If she hadn’t already been banded, they would have done that, too. Definitely one of my top five wildlife encounters.

Yellowstone Expeditions Yurt Camp

004Yurt

My next assignment starts a day from now. I’m venturing in to the heart of Yellowstone to stay and ski at Yellowstone Expedition’s Yurt Camp. I went once when I was pregnant with Finn (I date things based on the age of my kids), so it’s been awhile.

My friend Heather is joining me and we will spend the days cross-country skiing along the edge of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and to mud pots in the backcountry, and the evenings hanging out and chowing down. The nearest overnight guests are 35 miles away – talk about solitude. I am very excited about this trip!

I wrote a piece about it for the Great Falls Tribune, if you want to know more.

The workingman might be a sucker, but this working woman is having a blast.

One thought on “All in a day’s work

  1. Pingback: My top wildlife encounters (in the last year) – TravelingMel

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