Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Off to Montana to Throw the Hoolihan

Many hours of this view - Dennis driving
The lyrics to this old time cowboy song come to mind when I think of our recent road trip across Montana and into Saskatchewan . Believe it or not the hoolihan is one throw I actually got okay at. It's a loopy overhand throw, and I've used it on horses. I don't know what kind of roping was going on in the song, but on our road trip we weren't off to do any kind of cowboying. 

North Central Montana

Dennis and Marcy and Mike and I were headed to Saskatoon to the International Rangeland Congress, where Mike and Dennis were presenting. Mike gave an oral presentation in the ecosite descriptions and ecoregion classification session. His paper was titled, Developing Ecological Site Descriptions on Mongolian Rangelands to Enhance Monitoring Condition and Trend. Dennis and colleague Dal presented a poster session on the results of their condition and trend monitoring in Mongolia. 

Marcy - girl power accomplice

It was four days of driving and we had a lot of fun getting lost (briefly but regularly), stalling the truck at the border crossing (half in US half in Canada), Dennis getting across the border with his expired passport (grabbed the wrong one), and having a marble-sized chunk of something smash a bullseye in the windshield at 60 mpg (passenger side). I especially enjoyed getting to spend more time with Marcy, telling stories and seeing new country, across the plains and then home through the Canadian rockies.

Mike preps for his presentation
There were about four hundred delegates at the congress, which lasted a week and is held every four years. I think 2020 will be held in Africa. 
Fort Carlton, restored Hudson Bay post

Mike did an excellent job with his presentation and had some great questions from the audience. He presented on the morning of the first day, so after that we were both able to relax and enjoy seeing some old friends and meeting new ones. I especially liked the sessions with a social component, such as the work of Maria Fernandez-Gimenez, the Colorado State University professor who recently won Mongolia's highest civilian honor - the Order of the Polar Star. 
Mongolian delegates and a few US colleagues

Mongolian colleague, Dal, now working at the University of Saskatchewan, hosted a barbeque one evening. There were many many toasts in Mongolian and English, including a nice one by Mike where he concluded by honoring all the women in the world! I think he learned that toast from the Armenians! 

On the banks of the Saskatchewan river

Spending the week with people from countries around the world was a wonderful reminder of our commonalities and our ability to communicate in spite of language barriers and cultural differences. It was a good segue to Mike's departure for Kyrgyzstan (flying through Istanbul just after the coup attempt), reminding me of the good in the world.  

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef