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My last post was about summer while I was growing up in Arkansas during which I made plenty of great memories. Now that I’ve been up here in Montana for several years, I’ve made quite a few Montana summer memories.
I moved to Montana in June of 2014. The day I left Arkansas, there was a heat index of 120 with 90-some-odd-percent humidity. I loaded up the U-Haul with the help of several friends, stuck the cat in his pet taxi, booted up an audiobook, and set off on my great trek across the country. I drove up to Sioux Falls, SD the first day and was delighted with the much cooler temperatures. I drove to Gillette, WY on the second day to stay with my handsome now-husband. (@kaladin) Then I finished the journey up to Bozeman on the third day. Terry had already picked us out an apartment on his last leave. Got the truck unloaded, and started to settle in for about a week before the new job started.
When I got to work, I was surprised that there was no air conditioning. The South is barely survivable without it. I’m not really sure how people did it back in the day. Turns out, most buildings up here do not have air conditioning, but every building has really good heat.
The new office was in a north-facing part of the building with a tree just outside and an open window. It was actually very pleasant. Everyone else kept complaining about how miserably hot it was. I felt confused as it was only 78 and it was considerably drier than I was used to, so it was actually pretty nice. The hottest part of that summer, it got to about 94 outside, and I was still wearing jeans with my flip-flops. I figured out quickly that I would need to buy summer clothes back in Arkansas because the women up here have a much more masculine summer fashion than I care for.
The first weekend in August every year is the Sweet Pea Festival, which is a showcase of the arts. Or rather, an event with live music and art galleries that you pay to get into so you can watch the musicians and purchase art. My first year, I got a free wristband from helping a colleague out with her part. I went with a couple of Terry’s friends, who I had claimed as my own. I got to learn what a “tater pig” is, though I wasn’t a huge fan. I ended up serving on the board of directors for this festival my third summer in town, but it was not an experience I care to repeat.
Sweet Pea also hosts a number of popular community events leading up to the actual festival. This includes Bite of Bozeman, which involves food trucks and restaurants setting up booths along Main Street, has live music from local bands and samples of all the delicious local food you can imagine.
There is another art festival that takes place the same weekend as Sweet Pea. It’s called the S.L.A.M. festival and consists of many local artists who were not invited/included to Sweet Pea. S.L.A.M. also has live music (by local artists) and is free to get into. I know a couple of the artists involved in S.L.A.M. now. I’ve also bought a few pieces of art from there, including a custom mug by one of Terry’s favorite artists.
One of the most delightful things to do during a Montana summer is to go drink some beers while you float down the river. Now, I will preface this by saying that Montana rivers are much colder than Arkansas rivers. In some of the Montana rivers, your flesh has to go a bit numb before you can enjoy yourself. The best way to achieve this: a couple cans of some Montana beer. Now floating down the river isn’t that much fun if you wait too late in the summer. We start getting forest fires and low river levels around the first of August. You want to go somewhere in late June to mid-July. We normally float down the Madison.
Terry had taken me to the floating “creek” in his hometown. I use air quotes on creek because it’s much more like an Arkansas river. It’s called Big Spring Creek, though the more rural Montanans say “crick” instead of “creek”. I dipped a toe in and it was like dipping a toe in a glass of ice water! He laughed at my squealing and teased me about pushing me into the water. Then he took me to another creek called Warm Spring Creek. Do not let that name fool you as it’s anything but warm! My in-laws had a swimming hole on that creek, and my mother-in-law loved to tease me because I thought the water was cold.
Montana is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I just love it here and I’m looking forward to many summers here in the future.
Wait… I’m doing this wrong…
Go away, we’re full! There’s nothing to see here, just a bunch of gray, smoky skies, volcanoes, vultures, and half burnt forest underneath 6 feet of snow!