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.
- It's nearly impossible to swing dance (gracefully) in hiking boots.
- Anywhere worth going means you will cross cattle guards and follow a dirt or gravel road.
- Cowboys in chaps are real—and they are worth meeting.
- Meat is a staple; drop the vegetarian status.
- There's absolutely no reason to sleep indoors in the summer, and long-term tent-living is nothing short of magical.
- To that end, building a fence from downed tree branches effectively prevents dogs from using your tent as a fire hydrant.
- “How are you?” is not a rhetorical question here; Montanans take friendliness to another level.
- 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?
- If you are within three hours, you're "in the neighborhood."
- No bottled drinking water on earth compares to natural spring water.
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.