Wide-Eyed Wonder

Montana Summer, Bozeman, Hyalite

Wide-Eyed Wonder

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Andy Vantrease

Ten things I learned from a summer in Montana. 

Four months ago, I drove my Nissan Altima 2,100 miles from Delaware to Montana. Loaded with audiobooks and podcasts, I set out for the Wild West, with plans to pass through the Treasure State for a few weeks, then continue on to the coast. My trip began at a retreat at the famous Feathered Pipe Ranch in Helena, and as the saying goes, the rest is history. From Bozeman, Big Timber, and Emigrant to Helena, Hamilton, and Missoula, I can’t seem to tear myself away from the endless beauty of this state. After a summer—and early winter—in the mountains, here's a list of ten things I’ve learned from life in Montana. 

  1. It's nearly impossible to swing dance (gracefully) in hiking boots.
  2. Anywhere worth going means you will cross cattle guards and follow a dirt or gravel road.
  3. Cowboys in chaps are real—and they are worth meeting.
  4. Meat is a staple; drop the vegetarian status.
  5. There's absolutely no reason to sleep indoors in the summer, and long-term tent-living is nothing short of magical.
  6. To that end, building a fence from downed tree branches effectively prevents dogs from using your tent as a fire hydrant. 
  7. “How are you?” is not a rhetorical question here; Montanans take friendliness to another level.
  8. Stick your nose between the cracked bark of an old ponderosa pine, and it smells like a seven layer butterscotch bar fresh out of the oven. Am I right?
  9. If you are within three hours, you're "in the neighborhood."
  10. No bottled drinking water on earth compares to natural spring water. 

Montana Backroads

Montana has turned me into a wide-eyed child again, filled with wonder and an endless urge to explore. Yeah, I think I could stay here a while. 

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