Since arriving in Montana, I have been bombarded with an invigorating sense of truly being alive. My life here differs drastically from the norm, giving it the impression of being unrealistic, a dream land. In fact, my friends and I jokingly call our home here Neverland, an imaginary time warp that confuses the days and all inklings of time passing. It’s strange to me that this lifestyle which in so many ways contradicts most people’s perceptions of “real life” is the life that fills me up and overloads me with a burning desire to live and love and, most importantly, to never stop yearning.
The work is long – sometimes 10 or 11 hours on my feet – but I get to work with amazing people, all of whom I’m friends with, and because I mainly work in the dining room I get to interact with the guests. The Ranch is unique in the sense that it not only allows but encourages its staff to talk with the guests, share your background, and get to know them. There’s a bar connected to the dining room in which both staff and guests drink, mingle, share travel stories, and dance the two-step.
My job involves all the processes of eating. Setting up and preparing the dining room for meals, serving the food, and then clean up after meals and begin the preparation for the next meal. Sometimes it feels that all the guests do is eat because I am constantly in the kitchen or dining room. But regardless of the long hours, it’s incredibly difficult to dread going to work. Chefy (the head chef) said as long as things are done properly and efficiently, the kitchen is the best place to work on the ranch. And I would have to agree. In between meals we dance and sing as Eye of the Tiger or Adele blares in the background, and we get to sample just about everything that exits the kitchen. With some of the best chefs in the business cooking 5 or 8 course meals, this is quite the perk. There’s also a strong sense of unity and teamwork. We all have our own individual duties and roles, but everybody helps each other out so that everyone can finish work at the same time and leave as a team.
After work, if there are a lot of guests hanging out, we’ll usually go hang out at the bar and do some dancing. On quieter nights we tend to migrate towards the hot tub, beer cans in tow. Every so often nights are dispersed with guitar/ukulele jam sessions, beer pong, hatchet throwing, star gazing, and intensely competitive games of pool. Everyone here also loves to be active, so games of tennis, soccer, basketball and volleyball are common, and if you have a day off you will most likely go hiking or fishing. Basically, you have to try to not have a good time.
As my friends back home pursue graduate education and successful careers, I wholeheartedly support and applaud them. But that is not my path. My path has twists and turns, is overcrowded with the branches of huckleberry bushes, and coincides with the tracks of a mountain lion. My path is obstructed by the unknown and often questioned and criticized by convention, but I know that I wouldn’t trade my unconventional life for the world.