Newbie Gaffes

Newbie gaffes, out-of-towner

How to spot an out-of-towner in Bozeman.

There’s a lot of talk around town about who belongs and who doesn’t. Who’s a local? Who’s native? Who cares? To be honest, we don’t give a damn where you’re from. So long as you’re here for the right reasons—high mountains, rolling rivers, and friendly, simple folk speckled between—then you deserve your place as much as anyone.

Nonetheless, when you’re the new kid on the block, everyone else will know. In due time, you’ll assimilate, but ask anyone who’s been in Bozeman more than a couple years how to spot an out-of-towner—you’ll get some funny, honest, slightly abrasive replies. Here are some telltale signs that you’re sticking out like a sore thumb:

  • Not saying hello to people on trails.
  • Not waving to people on dirt roads.
  • Not pulling over for faster vehicles.
  • Wearing more than one of the following items at a time: white cowboy hat, scarf, man-bun.
  • Wearing a two-liter hydration vest on Drinking Horse. It’s a half-mile, you’ll make it.
  • Wearing bear bells. They’re annoying as hell, and ineffective. Unless you’re an 82-year-old grandma, in which case it’s endearing.
  • Toting around some kind of small, specialty dog breed. If your pup can’t keep up with you on the trail, it’s either really old or not worth a darn—in either case, it should be put down soon.
  • Obtaining service-status for said mini-dog so you can bring it into stores and restaurants, where it’ll yap at people and piss on the floor. Tie it up outside like everyone else.
  • Not realizing or caring that your dog, of any size or breed, barks all the time. This is Montana—it’s quiet here. Let’s keep it that way.
  • When driving around town, stopping at every uncontrolled intersection, impotent with indecision. Yield to the right and keep it movin’.
  • Parking right next to the only other car in the parking lot. Back off a bit, partner.
  • Expecting the weather to match the forecast. This is mountain country, and mountain weather is unpredictable. Be prepared for anything.

Wearing a two-liter hydration vest on Drinking Horse. It’s a half-mile, you’ll make it.

  • Thinking a pistol is better self-defense than bear spray. The stats show different.
  • Carrying bear spray up the M. There hasn’t been a griz anywhere near there in 100 years.
  • Being flabbergasted by seeing a dog off-leash. Sure, there’s a time and place for leashes, but not all the time, everywhere. In fact, around here, hardly anywhere.
  • Freaking out when an off-leash dog moves toward you, then sneering at the owner. Read the animal’s body language; odds are, it’s just curious.
  • Biking Emerald Lake on a non-bike day (or not knowing what a “non-bike day” is).
  • Referring to your after-work bike ride up Leverich as an “epic adventure.” Unless something went seriously wrong…
  • Shooting off guns and fireworks everywhere, because “screw it, it’s Montana.”
  • Correcting people who say “buffalo” and “gopher” instead of “bison” and “ground squirrel.” You like words, great—look up “colloquialism.”
  • Routinely shopping at REI for outdoor gear instead of at a local retailer.
  • Routinely shopping at Smith’s for groceries instead of at T&C.
  • Routinely shopping at Home Depot for hardware instead of Ace or Kenyon Noble.
  • Routinely eating out at Olive Garden or Buffalo Wild Wings, when there are so many cool, tasty local joints around.
  • Driving a Tesla, Porsche, or other impractical luxury vehicle.
  • Driving said luxury vehicle aggressively: tailgating, sketchy passing, doing 80 down Huffine. What’s the rush?
  • Stuffing Bluetooth transmitters into both ear canals while on the trail, oblivious to splendiferous nature all around. Hiking is exercise AND recreation, at the same time—cool, eh?
  • Complaining about frost in the fall, snow in the winter, or rain in the spring. FYI, those things happen every year—deal with it.
  • Moving to Montana to “get away from it all,” then bringing it all with you: the stuffy stores, the $7 lattes, the seven-figure salaries. No, thanks.
  • Making a literal, personal interpretation of every Outside Bozeman humor article, then writing in about how offended you are.