Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Called Off

The sheriffs office has discontinued the search for Clay. We gave one last push on Sunday and grid-searched areas that he might have been. The cowboys showed up with ATVs and horses, while about 50 outdoorsy-types came in with hefty day-packs and dogs. In my group was a friend of his who had flown in from Seattle and his sister. The family and friends are still searching on their own and if they'd like an additional set of eyes this weekend I'll head out with them. The sister seems to think (and many of the SAR folks agree) that he probably fell in the water since we found zero trace of him. It's likely that with the low flow and cold water temperatures that his body is in one of the pools or beneath the ice.

Looking on the positive side (if there can be one in a situation like this) I got flown in by helicopter on Sunday. They flew low and close to the trees and then dropped us in a nice little bald spot. So yeah--that was pretty awesome. I also got to joke around with one of the 'boys' from Homeland Security, play with a SAR dog (his name was Chay-Da, a German Sheppard with an affinity for pouncing on mice), had a Blackhawk helicopter fly right over my head, and bush-whacked through some pretty amazing terrain. Other than a couple of angry-looking blisters and one skinned knee I'm just fine.

This week I'm back in the office, housing sitting/dog sitting for two homes, working in the kitchen on Thanksgiving and then going to a friends afterward, and working in the restaurant on Wednesday and Friday.

Back to work....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nothing yet

I wish I could say we found him, or at least found something, but we haven't. I was out searching again today and I can't believe that some people have been out every day since this whole thing started. I was there on Tuesday and then again today. It's inspiring to see how people have come together, gotten organized and stayed motivated to keep searching even when things aren't looking good.

We now know that he went hiking on Saturday, so that means he's been in the woods for five nights, with tonight being the sixth. It's looking pretty grim. I'm tired, discouraged and more than just a little pissed off.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Hi guys,

Our sales guy didn't show up to work on Monday. A trip to the trail head up in Sinks Canyon found his car. I joined the search and rescue group yesterday and covered ten miles on and off trail, though that seems like nothing. The canyon area is huge. We aren't sure if he left to go hiking on Saturday or Sunday. I don't know if it's hit the news or not. The only bit I found so far on the google search is: http://www.montanasnewsstation.com/Global/story.asp?S=7355036&nav=menu227_2

I have to work at the restaurant tonight through Saturday so I'll also be in the office (we didn't get home until right at 5 p.m. and I was spent from the off trail hiking). If I can get off work on any of those nights I might go back out, though at this point people are starting to look and sound a bit grim about the whole thing.

I was really glad to finally get some S.A.R. experience though it sucks that it's someone from work. I don't really know Clay (I've only met him on a couple occasions) but everyone else here has and they're understandably worried. It was amazing to see how quickly everyone was mobilized. There were 50 hikers, a good size group of horse packers and helicopters and planes in the air. We had high winds and sleet though the temperature stayed between 35 and 45 degrees during the day. My group of five was hiking between 8,500 and 9,000 feet though some groups were up above 10,000 feet. It was impressive to see the helicopters flying in that kind of weather. They buzzed us twice.

Clay is a great hiker (his wife says he averages about 15-20 miles a day when he hikes) and is a former park ranger. Basically, this the kind of guy you ask to go find people, not the kind of guy who gets lost.

When I know more I'll post it here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


When I started my blog I decided that it wouldn’t be the kind that detailed what I did every day—those types of blogs are not only a complete bore but also painfully annoying. Instead I wanted it to be about life; what I was interested in, what had struck me as funny and whatever else had been on my mind. But today I happen to be bored so I thought I’d do a typical day (a good day) to showcase what life is like for me in Wyoming. So, I give you Monday, a fairly normal day that is indicative of my time here.

I start my day by getting up late. Again. I rush around my hotel/dorm/studio room to get ready for work, tripping over shoes and clothes as I go. I grab my messenger bag and a Powerbar and stumble down the stairs to work. Work, by the way, is across the street from where I live so I walk less than a block to get to the building. I reach my desk on time and grab my coffee cup before even turning on my computer. Upstairs in the kitchenette someone has committed the ultimate sin of brewing weak coffee. Really...the nerve. Two of the tech guys from upstairs and I quickly throw out the offending pot and stand impatiently while a new pot (a real pot) brews while discussing the merits of already ground verses whole bean coffee. At least I’m among friends.

Back downstairs I get started on my day. It’s the beginning of the week and we’re currently between projects in my department so work is slower than usual. But I do have a writing project so I grab the laptop and head to the quiet of the lounge to try to write. But instead of writing I start freaking out about moving to Bozeman and life in general. What am I doing? Where am I going? Should I go to Australia? Maybe try to find an internship in London? And before I know it an innocent google search on what there is to do in Bozeman on the weekend deteriorates into OH MY GOD WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE!!!!????. This, of course, is quickly followed by another trip to the coffee pot.

So I go back to my desk where I happily dive face first into a pile of old royalty statements and start organizing them on an Excel spreadsheet. God bless Excel where I can organize whole years and everything balances and makes sense. Oh how I love to indulge minor compulsions.

Come noon I’ve calmed down thanks to the complete mental absorption that is royalty statements from the 1980’s combined with a dose of The Be Good Tanyas on iTunes. I meet up with two friends from work and we head off to the new coffee shop to have lunch. Over soup and sandwiches we start talking about the next place to move and the next thing to do. Both women are in the same boat as me so at they can commiserate as well as add a few new dimensions to my worries: Hadn’t I thought about the best way to start saving for retirement? What about travel? Screw retirement. Shouldn’t I be squirreling away my cash for a plane ticket to some exotic locale as opposed to paying off my car? After all, we’re only in our twenties once and time is running out. Right.

After lunch we head back to work and I gladly slam the headphones back on and go straight back to the world of royalty statements. Comfort through organization…

By mid-afternoon my mom is calling to ask if I’d like her to mail me spice cookies (YES, PLEASE!!!!). I try not to sound too desperate for sugary home-backed, 100-year-old family recipes however, my humble gratitude comes out to sound something like “how soon can you get them here????.”

Before I can talk to my mom any further, I’m called away to take some photos for the online store. I borrow a bike and head off with two of my co-workers for City Park. It’s an Indian summer day so the air is warm and the afternoon sun is making the fall leaves sparkle. At the park I take photos of the two “models” wearing shirts and hats that we sell online with the schools logo on them. We take pictures until the camera dies and then head back to the office.

It’s straight back to the Excel sheets for me until 5:00pm rolls around and I’m out the door. I don’t have to work at the restaurant tonight so I drop my bag in my car and decide to walk the five blocks down Main Street to the grocery store. The sun is starting to get low in the sky and the road is filled with people rushing home to dinner and their families. With nearly all the stores in town located on Main Street it’s a pleasant walk and I find myself letting go of my worries just enough to begin to relax.

At the store I pick up some fresh veggies and debate between beef and giving tofu a chance. In the end I decide on the tofu because it’s cheaper and head back towards home. On the way into the hotel/dorm that is my home I spot one of my friends from lunch and she invites me out to the place where she is house-sitting to watch some football. I’m not really a football person (or a major-league sports fan for that matter) but some socializing sounds like a great idea so I tell her to find me before she heads out.

In the kitchen I try my hand at a tofu-veggie stir fry and discover that while it’s not that bad I really would rather have a steak and a potato. Oh well. At least I gave it a shot.

After dinner I meet up with my friend and another guy and we caravan out to the house. It’s a small place with a relaxed sitting room, cable and grill. Another guy meets us out there and the four of us get started on beer and brats while the Packers and Broncos duke it out on the TV. The two boys have brought their guitars and pick and pry at lyrics and chords while my friend and I gossip and discuss safe bear camping techniques (it’s just that kind of crowd). Before long the boys are jamming out and are doing a fairly good job at it, too. The boys only stop to grill, eat, drink, tell funny stories and yell at the TV.

With the smell of onions in the house, a beer in my hand and guitar music permeating the evening my friend and I start talking about our freak-outs and worries about what in the heck we’re supposed to do next. But instead of talking about the rest of our lives with tension, it’s more of a sensible conversation with not nearly as much anxiety as there was at lunch; they’re the same problems, but somehow smaller. At one point she looks over at the boys and says that on nights like these, life is okay for a minute. She’s right.

When the football game ends, guitar music dies down and all the brats have been eaten, I head into the pitch-black desert night and make my way back to town. Back in my little room I hit the mattress, close my eyes, and not a second later it’s Tuesday morning.