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Summer in Montana
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!Published in Group Writing
Montana is a great place to visit. Glacier is a sleeper for folks from the East.
That’s better. Michigan is full, too. And too cold. Or too hot, depending on what you don’t like.
This conversation is an entry in our Group Writing Series under February’s theme of “We Need a Little Summer.” In March, our theme will be Feats of Strength. Come join us and tell us about feats of strength of any kind that you have witnessed or participated in. Our sign-up sheet and schedule is waiting for you.
Yeah. It’s spelled “creek”, it’s pronounced “crick”.
So are Montana creeks really big, or are Arkansas rivers that small?
Thanks for this.
It may be a bit contrary to your pastoral message, but I have two rather pragmatic questions. This seems as good a place as any:
How does one earn a decent-good (say 70K+ a year) there?
Will the state remain essentially conservative, or will it go the way of Vermont as lefties from the coast relocate there?
What a great and gorgeous post! The author ain’t bad either! Thanks, Julie, and thanks, Terry for dragging her up there so we can read this story!
Question 1: Work in the private sector doing skilled labor or being a member of management.
Question 2: Lord, I hope not. The vast majority of the state is very much red, but we do have liberal Californians coming in and trying to take over stuff. If it ever does get that bad, we’ll likely move elsewhere.
I was strongly tempted one time a few (more than a few) years ago by a house in Montana that had a hot spring behind it that heated the house, provided hot water and a warm swimming pool before it went on down a creek below the house. The price seemed high at the time but California has since gone nuts.
My son went to the University of Montana in Missoula. For a photographer, it couldn’t have been a better place. :) And my daughter and son-in-law lived out there at the same time for about three or four years. They loved it except for the smokey air in late summer.
When I went to visit, I was so surprised at the dry air too. It is so different from the humid air on Cape Cod.
Wonderful post. Thank you.
I thought it was dry here until I went to Arizona. Then I thought it was dry in Arizona until I went to New Mexico. I don’t think I could live in NM without keeping the stores bought out on lotion. :/
Well… Bozeman, Missoula, Butte, Helena, Kalispel.
But at least there are still wide open spaces where you can get some peace and quiet! I wish more liberals would wizen up and realize that cities are so much better, and they get to hang out with all their awesome neck-beard friends and spend their weekends holding protests and shouting at everyone and drinking soda-water while feeling oh, so European!
There was a grad student (political science) working as an intern in a county in … Indiana, maybe?… who had the job of putting up signs on the back roads to identify local features. Yes, it was likely make-work. Anyway, he (or she? can’t recall) wanted to properly label some flowing water passing under a bridge (if you can call a culvert a bridge). So, he was delighted to see an obvious local walking down the road toward him. “Hey, elderly local,” he called, “What do you call this water, here?” “Why,” the man (definitely a man, this time) answered, “That’s the crick.” Pleased, the young man (I’ve decided he must be male, because the rest of this makes him look foolish) went back to his support agency to have a sign made and installed. ‘Crick Creek’, it read. When he returned to inspect the result, he was was positively delighted to see the same old local standing there reading the sign. “What do you think?” he asked, proudly. The old man looked at him, squirted some tobacco juice in the water, and replied, “You got it backwards.”
Some Montana summers you have to be careful, if you blink twice summer will vanish. I moved here in 2002 and brought all my CA summer clothes. Most of them still haven’t been taken out of the boxes I packed them in. Chiffon dresses still hanging in my closet, never worn in Montana. I started packing in August, arrived October 25th and darn near froze to death.
I hate hot weather.
Montana is beautiful and Bozeman is a really interesting city. Great bookstore on main street; good restaurants; brass marker on the sidewalk dedicated to Gary Cooper. I flew in last September to spend a few days with a college friend at his vacation/retirement home in Big Sky (he lives/works in Billings). The big wildfires had been devastating most of the northwest during August and early September, but the week before I flew out a storm moved through, doused the wildfires, and dusted the mountains with snow. We stepped off the airplane in Bozeman and looked north out the window at a chain of mountains (not tall hills – mountains) that were capped with snow – beautiful! You and your husband are lucky people to live in such a beautiful place. Hope you don’t mind if I pop into the state from time-to-time! [Still haven’t made it up to Glacier!]
Glacier is, by far, the most beautiful place I have ever been to! If you’re ever back in Bozeman for a visit, let us know and we can meet up. :)
You can count on it. I’ll be going back to see my friend again, and I’ve got to get up to Glacier, so I’ll definitely be coming back to Bozeman! I’ll shoot you a PM well before I arrive!