"So how did you end up in Cooke City, Montana all the way from… wait, where is Slovakia?"
You would not believe how many times I got this question probably thanks to my accent. 'A plane dropped me off', or 'I drove here' would be the short version.
The true story is a little longer. In 2006 my friends and I signed up for a program for university students back home. I assume you already looked up Slovakia on the map, and if you ever meet a Slovak, you should also know that it is not in Eastern Europe, it was never part of Russia or Soviet Union, we have our own language (Slovak) and Czechoslovakia split more than 20 years ago, in 1993. It is located in the heart of Europe, even the geographical center of Europe is in Slovakia, or one of them. Back to the story though…
The program is called Work and Travel, students from all over Europe get to travel and know other countries thanks to this program. We got sent to Cooke City, MT. Imagine how we felt when we got there. After we spent 20 hours on the planes and at the airports; we got picked up at the Cody airport at 11 p.m. and spend another two hours in a car before we made it to Cooke City. The town has only a little over 100 residents, two gas stations, two bars, few restaurants and a general store. Trust me, after a week I wasn't very impressed with it. I was happy to have my friends there, and later we met a bunch of kids from Czech Republic and Slovakia. They knew the area so things got better and we had a lot of fun going on hikes and drives to the Yellowstone.
I cried when I was leaving for home at the end of the season, came back for 3 more awesome summers, brought many friends and cousins with me and some of them even got married and still live in Cooke City. After I graduated the university it was much harder to get visa, so I stayed at home for two years, worked a regular 9 to 5 job and kept missing my little piece of heaven on Earth. I signed up for a Green Card Lottery several times. Yes, the US Government has a lottery every year and they give away residency. And believe it or not, I won the third year I applied and since then I lived in Cooke City, MT. I'm loving it … when I'm there. I fell in love with traveling, it is like a drug to me! The more places I go, the more I learn about and have to visit.
But why do I always come back to Montana? Honestly, there is a lot of reasons. I can't just say it's the mountains and scenery, cause I can find that in Slovakia also, and not only there. It is not only the job, people or location (however awesome that might be). There is so much to come back to right now... but one day I may just pack my car and go to Alaska. Or Canada or Iceland. Or Tadzhikistan. The world is big …
It is the perfect blend of people, wilderness and freedom that made me so happy and I enjoyed staying at one place (Cooke City, Montana).
I recently moved up a little more north, to Essex, still Montana, where I found a seasonal job and some great scenery for landscape photography as I am trying to get better at it and learn new things. I kinda got dragged up here by my boyfriend Aaron, but change is good and I'm happy to be so close to Glacier National Park.
If you would like to know how I made this last photo, read my next blog post How to make a circle polyorama.