Montana, Ho! / by Phoebe Bean

Summer seemed to fly by faster than usual this year! Between guiding, managing the fly shop, Lava Lake social media, and odd jobs thrown in here and there, sleep was definitely not a priority. One of my best friends from high school as well as a friend of my sister's lived with our family while they interned for the ranch, which was a complete blast! Our house was most definitely packed. Unfortunately, Ginger ended up getting another ACL surgery, this time on her other leg. She was leash-bound for most of July and August, but she came to work with me so she got tons of attention from other guides and customers.

Even though I was sad to see August come to an end and say goodbye to the fam-jam, I have to admit that I was anxious to start the next chapter in my life. After an agonizing few days of packing (those of you who know me well understand how much I 100% despise packing), Ginger and I got in my 4Runner and drove to Missoula! My mom, who is a saint, drove with us and helped me move into my new home. My roommate was out of town for a few days, so I popped over to Craig to visit my godmother and our long-time family friend, Anne. If you've never been to Craig, MT, before, you owe it to yourself to check it out at some point. The Mighty Mo was pretty smoky, unfortunately, but we managed to have an excellent time regardless!

On the first day, Nancy and I kayaked down the river and Anne tested her sea legs out on the paddle board; having been so fish obsessed all summer, it was really nice to take in the sights from a different perspective and just enjoy being on the water with great friends. 

I spent lots of time getting to know Nancy and Dave's new pup, Charley, who is absolutely adorable. Anne channeled her inner artist and, much to my chagrin, made me pose for her. It was hard to complain, though, with such a beautiful scene as my backdrop! Nancy's cooking was phenomenal, of course, and it felt great to see her after a few long months. It's always special. Andrew Pierce, my boss from Orvis, arrived for a hunting photo shoot and we were able to hit the river and fish one day. The fish didn't exactly cooperate, but we got a couple of great laughs in regardless! A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent stopped us at the take-out and asked us a series of hilarious and touchy (to us, at least) questions. Directed at Andrew: "How many fish did you catch today?" - "None." - "Were you satisfied with the number of fish you caught today?" - "...No." I almost snorted I laughed so hard!

Ginger and I drove back to Missoula amidst a big thunderstorm and joined my fabulous roommate, Riley, and her dog, Rook. Thus far, Ginger and Rook have been getting along super well! They occasionally snip at each other when dinner time rolls around (we all know how Ginger feels about her dinner...) but I'm relieved that they are buddies. Rook is a Heeler/German Shepherd mix and is a total sweetheart!

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I brilliantly scheduled all of my classes to fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was worried at first that it would be way too much to handle; don't get me wrong - they are rough, long days, but the four-day weekends are absolutely worth it. I've been trying to take advantage of my free time to get outside as much as possible before the snow settles in and I am in love with how many things to do around Missoula there are! Rock Creek has been one of my favorite fishing spots so far - Ginger seems to like it, too!

Miraculously, Ginger's ACL has healed very quickly and we've been running together again. Last week, I took her to a spot suggested by my friend, Pat Kane, to look for some grouse. We were only out for an hour or so because I didn't want to push my luck with her leg, but my old lady found her some birds! As you can imagine, I was brimming with pride. 

Basically, I couldn't be happier with how things are going in Montana. More hunting and fishing days are planned for next week along with a short backpacking trip - life is good!