I hold to the belief that where one chooses to live is every bit as important as the means by which they earn a living. If one is happy with both then they are truly fortunate. As for me, I became enchanted with the Rocky Mountains decades ago while pursuing a degree in wildlife biology at Colorado State University. Having accomplished that by 1970, and being unsuccessful at immediately landing a job in my perceived area of expertise, I wandered into left field and pursued a graduate degree in marine biology some 2000 miles from the Colorado Rockies.
One day I awoke to the fact that jobs requiring that particular vein of knowledge anywhere in the Rocky Mountains were exceedingly rare. Those were the days when legions of young people became infected with the idea of moving back to the land and my wife and I were no exception. So we said goodbye to the sandy beaches of Florida and moved to northwest Montana with a vague notion of becoming self-sufficient on ten acres.
We eventually landed in the Tobacco Valley with everything we owned in a 6’ x 8’ homemade trailer and precious little money. It did not take long for me to accept that I had found the land of my dreams: soaring mountains, vast tracks of timber, clear streams, pristine lakes, abundant wildlife and four distinct seasons that arrived on time.
The rest was easy. It then became a simple matter of earning a living. Most of it, at least in the early years, involved relatively strenuous labor. I learned about chainsaws by cutting rails and fence posts. Surviving that I moved up to sawing real logs; became learned in the art of skidding logs; spent a season as a helicopter logger; worked at large and small sawmills, on the Forest Service Timber and Fire crews, sold firewood and eventually managed a cattle and hay ranch. I was a substitute teacher, a photographer and a feature writer for two area newspapers. More or less by default I ended up with a photo processing and printing business. Somehow that led to a small publishing business and as long as I can prop myself up at the computer I will keep the printed word coming and adhere to my mantra that I appropriated from Louis L’Amour: “The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.”