Hidden up there near the Canadian border, Montana is the fourth largest state after California, Texas, and Alaska. It is just slightly bigger than Japan. Mostly, I like Montana for two fabulous national parks, Jellystone (really Yellowstone), and Glacier National Parks. Also located here, under Federal control is Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Most unfortunately, the glaciers in Glacier National Park have receded, and will melt away in a few decades.
Mostly, it is the wild, and untamed Montana that attracts me. What can I possible compare it to, at least here in the United States? The obvious choice would be Alaska, followed by Idaho, then perhaps Minnesota, the upper Michigan Peninsula, and Maine. In reality, there are parts of many states that might resemble some of Montana. But it so large that any comparisons might just pale in a pail.
So, Montana means “mountain” in Spanish. But I like their other name, “Big Sky Country.” Just how large is the sky? It is the same sky that lies above the rest of us, they just have more. Perhaps more importantly, I wonder if I have ever crossed footprints with the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition?
One attraction here are the Bighorn Sheep. The sheep weigh up to 300 pounds, and the big horns weigh up to 30 pounds. Most people do not know there are three species, one of which is endangered. Also unknown to most, is their home was originally in Russia. They crossed over the Bering ice bridge from Siberia, as did many people.
Some famous Montana people: choreographer Michael Smuin, actor George Montgomery, former Green Bay Packer great Jerry Kramer, actor Gary Cooper, news anchor Chet Huntley, head moose Bullwinkle, comedian Dana Carvey, daredevil Evel Knievel, actress Martha Raye. Most people do not know that Rocky found Bullwinkle in Montana, not far from Glacier National Park.
We drove up to Glacier National Park Friday, up to the summit of the Going to the Sun Road for the first time. It opened for the season on the longest day of the year. But even last night, finishing dinner at 8:45, it was still plenty of daylight for us.
The waterfalls and views were extraordinary, though it was a little brisk. At least no rain, but plenty of other sightseers and tourists. The waterfalls were spectacular, given the Spring runoff and the recent rain and snow the days before. It is a real national treasure. You must GO!
We also stopped in Hungry Horse on the way up as well as on the return for lunch. Going, we stopped at the famous Huckleberry Patch, mostly to stretch our legs. But on the way back, we stopped at the Elkhorn Grill across the highway. Sheri had the buffalo burger, and I had the elk burger. Mine was overdone, but the buffalo was cooked perfectly.
So, here’s a thought. Do I think I could live here? Well, it is tempting, since the sky is blue and the air is clean. Summer seems fantastic for outdoor activities. Fall and spring are very short. The people are very nice. The cost of living seems reasonable. But can I get through a long, dark, cold, snowy, icy winter? Many locals head to warmer places during the winter. That is the question, rather than “to be or not to be.”
I could ride my bicycle endless miles on beautiful country roads and trails. I could even learn to fish or hunt, perhaps. I would certainly kayak, and perhaps learn some basic rock climbing skills. But I do not see myself on a snowmobile, snow camping, mushing, or chopping cords of wood for the winter cold. Could you live here?