“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
~~ Wow, it has been almost a year since I have posted here on WordPress. I really am amazed at how quickly the time passed. Also, I am amazed at the million places I have seen and experienced in just under a year.
This post is a summary of where “we” have been, the people we have met and the beautiful country we were so lucky to experience.
First off, I must profusely apologize to all of my followers for not posting! So much has happened! I have traveled extensively, so much that I deeply long for a home where I can rest my head and perhaps have a garden.
Long story, but I am now taking care of my charming 8 year old granddaughter (soon to be 9 in November). I had to leave my clients and home in northern Montana. But it is all for the better. Sometimes life has a way of throwing curve balls, this was one of them.
My granddaughter and I have been through many changes together. She has had to adjust to her mom being gone, learn the rule of grandmas’ house and make many adjustments to a new life. Me, well I discovered many things:
- I don’t have the patience like I used to
- How to deep breathe (it helps with patience)
- I am now doing daily Yoga and stretches
- I have started playing more 🙂
- My home is now a stage for entertainment
- How to home school
- How to truly organize my time
- How to be flexible, especially when your schedule is not “on cue”
First Stop Polson, MT
Our first stop was in Polson MT. Population 4,488 (2010 census). It is beautifully located on the south end of Flathead Lake in Northwest Montana. The small town is also on the Flathead Indian reservation. It is home to the Bitterroot Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreilles Tribes, also known as the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation (Wikipedia).
Our first impression of Polson was that everyone kept to themselves. In fact, things were very quiet for a long time. However, we discovered the local health food store. At this fabulous grocery were many wonderful people, those who worked there and visited. It was a gathering place for locals and a way for like-minded people to gather. Truly, the people were amazing! And truth be told, we became friends with many people.
One lady named Mary invited Ambrosia to a tea party. She was such a lovely woman. At the time we were not able to have the party at my house. So Mary arranged everything at her office. She is a massage therapist. What a lovely day. She carried in her basket of goodies that contained a myriad of lovely items- tablecloth for the floor, napkins; several tea cups, a delightful variety of teas and numerous munchies. Oh what a time we had. Ambrosia was so thrilled. She dressed up in a nice frilly pink dress, pretty shoes and fancied her hair.
At the party Ambrosia was so excited that she spilled her tea at least 4 times. But it easily cleaned up off the floor.
We weren’t too long in Polson. Jobs were very limited, housing was crazy (I’ll tell ya in a bit) and a so- called friend bailed out on us the last minute. We were forced to move into cheaper housing, the current place was beyond our means. In fact, we had less than a week to find a place.
We end up discovering a sort of bungalow on the lake. At first the house seemed perfect and so cute. It was furnished and decorated Mediterranean style with an oriental flair. There were room dividers and large mirrors everywhere that reflected the light. The couches had the classic white covers you would find in Casablanca. There was an old portable linen closet that I would have loved to take with me. The antique had a nice rustic look, was blotched with green paint and stood about 10 feet high. There was also an old Japanese washer that held one very small load of clothes. Of course, there was a wooden clothes hanger for drying. You first entered the kitchen, next the living area and then you stepped up to the bedroom. Continuing, the next room was a small cubby area which we made into a play room and then you found the bathroom which next brought you back to the kitchen. Ambrosia called the place a roundabout house because it went in circles. She loved it.
However, I quickly realized that I could not stay here long. The cost of rent was way higher than the norm and the amenities were very miniscule. In the kitchen, you could not plug in more than one item or it would blow a breaker. Of course the switches were behind the huge wooden linen closet, it weighed a ton. Upon taking a shower, I discovered that our hot water tank was the size of a garden pea. I don’t even think it contained 5 gallons. So, in order to wash our hair, you first wet it and turned off the water, scrubbed then turned on the water to rinse your hair as fast as possible. You then shut off the water, applied cream rinse, washed your body and then prayed that you had enough water to rinse.
Next, the washer that supposedly worked did not. Instead, I wound up with a bunch of wet and soapy clothes that I had to rinse several times in cold water. I also hand wrung the clothes so they would not be dripping wet. After that, we carried out laundry to town a mile away. Lol, we were building memories.
Oh, did I mention that we did not have a stove? Well, one day the convention oven decided to throw out different colors of electrical sparks from the plug. It took many emails (landlady lived several states away) and several of her aggressive responses to convince her that we needed a new one. In the meantime, we went on a “raw” diet. The final incidence was when my granddaughter called me from the bathroom for help. The sink had literally come out of the wall. I had to jimmy rig it and place a chair and box underneath until “help” arrived the next day.
Needless to say the house was a “lemon“. We moved shortly after the sink incident, and out of town.
Deciding on where to move included many factors: warm enough weather to grow my garden, a town with more work and an area that is near or in the mountains. To surround myself with beauty is important. I prayed for my cabin in the woods where I can have a garden. Well, the joke was on me. I was not specific enough in what I desired.
I found a cabin in Livingston MT. it was located on the edge of town in an RV park. Life was good, beside the cabin was about a half-acre of land where I could grow my garden. There was a lot of grass and weeds, but it is always worth the effort and labor. Unfortunately, the place did not have running water in the cabin nor did it have a stove. Why are so many places nowadays renting out a house or apartment without amenities and call it livable? Just to find a home with water and cooking facilities in the west here is the “new” challenge of the century. I suppose since the economy went belly up, homeowners feel that they can charge anything for nothing. Anyway, I am rambling. I decided I could live with hauling water for the garden, located about 400 yards away… Our showers were probably 600 yards from the cabin.
Well, when we first arrived we had a nice greeting. The manager seemed okay. However, I should have figured it out the first day that something was off with the “red flags”. We were told to use a certain spigot for our water, the water barely came out. When we went to go to the bathroom, the door was locked on the inside. Unfortunately, Ambrosia had caught a bug and was getting sick often. But there were some wonderful people in a house (with a rooster) that helped us out and gave us a water bucket for carrying and showed us a different spigot that worked. We end up using a bathroom at a laundromat that was close by. Well, it took three days to fix the shower/bathroom issue.
I really do not want to get dramatic, but ‘issues’ stacked up quickly there. In truth, the manager was doing and dealing drugs. It was not long before I knew that I needed to leave. My rent was supposed to include Internet which Never got resolved. Unfortunately, I needed Internet for my work and was quickly going broke. With many prayers, I got work at a horse farm doing gardening and some painting. Quickly I was able to save money so I could move once again. And with God’s help, ingenuity and the Internet, I found work out of town. Since Yellowstone was celebrating 100 years, I knew it would be busy and there would be tons of work there. I was right.
Note: All I can say about Livingston is that it has some amazing architecture and history. I still miss the local bakery downtown where I escaped for a good cup of coffee and day old Artisan bread for a buck.
Headed to the other Side of Yellowstone
Dubois Wyoming is located in the middle of nowhere.However, nowhere is very beautiful and stunning. Further, the town is an hour from Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. Dubous is nestled in the amazing Wind River Valley right along the river in between canyons of red rock and bold mountains.
The population 92. It was fist inhabited by the Sheepeaters (Mountain Shoshone) but were relocated to a nearby reservation. In fact, relics of the Mountain Shoshone can be found in the valleys and mountains such as hunting traps and blinds, stone tepee circles and many prehistoric petroglyphs.
What a quaint town with friendly people and a crazy past! I found a job at a motel doing laundry and housekeeping. (Lol, I have two degrees). Although I was supposed to have housing, (I was lassoed into that one). However, I did find a temporary room to rent a block away at a reasonable price. Later, I found a cute studio type bunkhouse by the upper Wind River with a whole valley of trees and wildflowers as my front yard.
Again, I had no stove and minimal hot water. But Ambrosia loved the huge back yard and I had permission to start a garden, which I started promptly. I have to say that the neighbors chuckled a lot about my garden. I was planting in July. Little did they know that I was born in Wyoming and was very familiar with the short seasons and deer issues. Plus, I had already started the seed two months prior and had many starter plants. My fingerling potatoes were already 2 feet high.
Although my job paid the average, I knew that tips would make up the difference. I was paid per room, not hourly. Soon after I started, the owner started adding more responsibilities. I do not mind that, and I am a hard worker. But I want paid for my work. Extra work included sweeping the front sidewalks, cleaning up after the sons went in and fixed the old leaking toilet, sink or shower and other chores that I did not get paid for. In addition, my rooms were entirely stripped of all food and tips before I entered. My personal joke went like: “if you are going to strip the room of food and tips, why don’t you strip the sheets and dump the garbage while you are at it?”
Well, I feel that I have been complaining a lot in this post. I suppose I need to get it off my chest. There was so much that happened in such a short time. And much of it was negative. However, there were many positive experiences and beautiful people in Dubois . As well, the countryside, mountains and wildlife was stunning. And let’s not forget the different cultures in the various places.
Back to Dubois. I loved the area. It is rich with history, has outrageous countryside and some good people. In fact, it was often a hiding place for the notorious outlaw Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch (1890). Local stories claim that Butch worked on various horse ranches. It is told that Butch and the gang often hid in the Wind River Canyon and the Wind River Mountains. Some say he owned a ranch as well.
There is also the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, a museum that focuses on public education about the biology and habitat of bighorn sheep. It is an interesting place to visit and the locals often have gathering there.
The area is also rich in minerals and other great finds; people still search for gold, emeralds and other precious stones. Legends say, look for anthills, they hate the emeralds that block their holes.
While we were living in Dubois, there was the Lava Mountain Fire (July 2016), plus other fires. Many people were evacuated from their homes and took refuge in the schools and other public facilities. The fire was so big that there were more firefighters (about 1200) than the population of Dubois. The fire did come close to town and there was one night I was ready to go if needed. Fortunately I lived on the other end of town and the fire was contained once it crossed the road near town. For the most part, the fire was on the other side of the river which made a natural fire line. (I am an ex wild land firefighter). The fire raged for over 13 days and burnt over 7,000 acres. As well, we even had air quality reports of when and when Not to be outside. Even though the fire was 0 percent contained for quite a while, thankfully no-one was hurt and no homes were destroyed.
The Wrap Up: all in all, I met some wonderful people in Dubois, some I am still friends with. At work, I finally could not tolerate the stealing anymore and quit without notice. I can honestly say I have only done this two other times in my life. I always give at least a two week notice. But I had too many animosities plus working there was a constant reminder that I was being taken advantage of, big time. And they were so called “Christians”. I left with saying only a few things cordially, I do not work for thieves and it is all about principals and morals.
Well, since Dubois shuts down to nearly nothing in the winter, I knew I had to move once again. I said many prayers and received an answer within a day. Jackson, here I come.
Jackson Hole Wyoming situated on the Snake River below Yellowstone park near the Teton Mountains. It is a majestic place that attracts many tourists from all over the world. The population is 9,577. However, if you include the tourists that are there much of the year, the population is more than doubled that.
Ah Jackson Hole (JH), it is its own world. Even folks that live in the rest of the state say that JH is not a part of Wyoming. I must agree. I love Wyoming and I also love JH. Just the amazing restaurants make it worth the stay. But you best make sure that you have a big bank roll, the prices are crazy! Just a 16 ounce mocha cost $5.00. However, you have to experience the dining scene at least once. We went to a fabulous vegan restaurant that was divine. A friend of mine had a curry soup and we had more of an Italian fare. after our dinner we went down the street to a worldwide renowned chocolate shop that had amazing desserts!
The grocery prices are not much different. So yes, the pay is great and there are more jobs than you can imagine. If desired, one could easily work numerous jobs, 10-12 hour days and 7 days a week. The problem with Jackson is that there is no housing. Most apartments are turned into vacation rentals (greed again). The average studio goes for about &1500/month, if you can find one. There is also public transportation. I looked into Victor and Driggs, but rentals were not much cheaper. And a roommate situation is about $800-900 month, not including utilities.
The job was seasonal, for they closed both their motels when the summer tourism dies down. I was blessed to have free housing while I worked for a certain company. But I knew the housing would end as soon as the job finished. Although they did not kick me out, I knew they would be renting the place as soon as it started snowing. Well, my job ended abruptly (sooner than anyone expected). We got snow on October 1st! The 2 bedroom house was going to rent for $1500. I fell in love with the house! It was on a corner lot. It had so much space. It had a huge living room, a big kitchen with lots of cupboards, a laundry room, dining room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. We had a fireplace in the living area and a woodstove in the master bedroom.
There was also a garage, a big yard in the front and side plus a fenced yard with ample room for a garden. As well, the house got a lot of light with large windows in every room but the main bathroom. But the house did not come without many issues, of course. 🙂 It was very dirty when I arrived. I took out 9-12 large bags of garbage. The light in the main bathroom did not work, so I had to buy a lamp so we could see to take a bath or shower. The toilet did not work and would not flush in the main bathroom. The master bathroom also had issues: the shower was rendered dysfunctional, etc. I also had a leak above the wood stove and only one heater in the whole house worked. Keep in mind that Jackson gets really cold in the winter.
I was told that things would be fixed, but they never were. The more I talked to people, the more I realized that this was common behavior with landlords in the area. A friend of mine rented a 2 bedroom for $2200 and everything is very poorly kept up.
So, I have to tell you that on my first day of work, the owner stole my tips! Yikes. I decided to go with the flow and see what happened. Needless to say, it ended up being a race during the next two months. Whoever got there first. The thing was, she never gave me keys and I always had to wait until she “inspected” the room(s). Keep in mind that JH is big money. The average tips at an average motel is at least $50. I lost quite a bit of money on this job as well.
What is it with people stealing tips at a motel job? I don’t get it. It’s not like they didn’t make money, the rooms went for $185/night plus they had two suites and a house they rented. There were 20 rooms and they were always full. To top it off, they owned tow motels. I calculated that they were bringing home around $4000 a day at only one motel. More Greed..
Anyway, I had many job offers, even at the 4 Seasons, but I could not find housing at a reasonable cost.
I came to the sad conclusion that I had to move once again. I really did not want to move. I loved this place.. so we packed our bags and are now in the rural mountains of Idaho closer to Ambrosias’ mom.
I would love to share a few more pics: