Listening to live folk music and eating cheese curds on a wooden bench underneath the glow of the stars is how I spent my Friday night a couple of weeks ago. I had never listened to (or heard of) folk music before the start of this internship, nor had I tried the delicious wonders known as cheese curds. That was an incredibly special night, as I saw more stars than I knew existed and I glanced upon the Milky Way for the very first time! Although I am used to driving around at night in California, animals cross the road at night here in Montana, so I choose not to drive very far once the sun begins to set. Instead, I stay at home and read “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold, which was graciously gifted to me by one of my supervisors. I now spend my weekends hiking one of the many trials that are nearby, rafting down the Yellowstone River in Gardiner, and/or watching movies with some of my new friends.
Even though I have nearly been chased off a trail by a very determined badger, ran from swarms of mosquitoes, and fell asleep to the sound of deer fly buzzing in my ear after a day in the field, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I was surprised to hear and see pika for the first time during one of my hikes, along with a male mule deer, a sage grouse, a male elk bugle at a bird, and a wallowing bison. And, as of now, I have had 22 bear sightings during my stay within the park. It is safe to say that I have pleasantly enjoyed these new experiences, and I look forward to tasting, seeing, and learning things that are still completely new to me!