Montana Journal XIII: You Know You’re in Northwest Montana When . . .

 

December 3, 2006: Since I’d been in Montana for several months, I felt qualified to make this list. I shared this on Ricochet years ago, but it makes sense as part of our story about moving to Montana. (Read Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, Part IV here,  Part V here,  Part VI here,  Part VII here,  Part VIII here,  Part IX here, Part X here,  Part XI here, and Part XII here.)

The lady in front of you at the checkout lane in Target creates only a small stir when she pays with Canadian currency. 

The filth on your car obscures the rear license plate, but during the winter, it isn’t that much dirtier than the other cars in the parking lot.

When you drive around town with a visible California license plate, you feel negative “vibes” from other drivers.

The contractors working on your siding give you and your kids rides in their lift.

Some radio and TV stations give you traffic and weather applicable only to the residents of Spokane, Washington. Thanks.

There’s a drive-through cigarette store in town.

People with whom you do business are hard to track down during hunting season.

Parents bring their Kindergartners to a birthday party, and then leave.

The contractor working on your garage is warming himself at a roaring bonfire about ten feet from the construction site.

One of the items on a worksheet your Kindergartner brought home–that she correctly identified as starting with ‘g’–was a gun. 

Roughly an eighth of the traffic in town is made up of horse trailers.

You hear shots ring out near your house and don’t comment much beyond “that must’ve brought down a buck.”

On your route to town, you pass “Cowboy Church,” which meets every Sunday at “5:59 pm.”

Christian radio stations dominate the airwaves.

You meet a neighbor for the first time and you are just as genial after you notice that his hands are covered with blood and dirt. (He’s wearing an orange vest, after all.)

You can find close, convenient parking spots in the Target parking lot on Sunday mornings. 

You hear that Midwestern twang coming from about every fifth person you meet.

Your husband is startled by a deer standing in his garage.

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  1. Patrick McClure Coolidge
    Patrick McClure
    @Patrickb63

    • #1
  2. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    sawatdeeka: Your husband is startled by a deer standing in his garage.

    Was there a guy next to it saying, “Did you order delivery?”

    • #2
  3. Patrick McClure Coolidge
    Patrick McClure
    @Patrickb63

    Great reading. Your girls are obviously young women by now. Did they ever get mad at you all for moving them from California to Montana?

    • #3
  4. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    sawatdeeka:

    The filth on your car obscures the rear license plate, but during the winter, it isn’t that much dirtier than the other cars in the parking lot.

     

    When my son and I visited Bozeman in November 2005 to see if he wanted to attend Montana State University, we noted that all the cars were “two-toned,” with the lower half the color of the reddish grit used on the roads, since snow and ice season had begun. [We then lived in western New York, where every car turns white in the winter due to being covered with the salt used there on the roads.]

    • #4
  5. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Patrick McClure (View Comment):

    Great reading. Your girls are obviously young women by now. Did they ever get mad at you all for moving them from California to Montana?

    Thank you! They were too little when we came out here to remember a whole lot about California. So this has been their home. Although I love San Diego, perhaps it was good for them to grow up in a more rural area. They have had lots of good experiences and are doing well in college.

    • #5
  6. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    This list gives me a strange urge to move to Montana.

    • #6
  7. Ron Selander Member
    Ron Selander
    @RonSelander

    It sounds absolutely wonderful!

    • #7
  8. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    This sounds a lot like growing up in Wyoming…I grew up in the 60s-70s. Once my high school math teacher needed to cut something, or pry something…I’m not sure what. I promptly retrieved the pocket knife from my purse, and offered it. He thanked me, used it, and handed it back. 

    Students and teachers would drive their trucks to school, and in the rack on the rear window (inside–to keep it out of weather) was the rifle that they were going to use to go hunting or target shooting later that afternoon. 

    We always had a two-day school break for the opening day of elk hunting season. Hey–you could earn a bunch of money guiding out-of-state hunters, or you could also get yourself a lot of meat to feed the family all winter. Once, as a grown woman, many years from living in rural Wyoming, a friend asked me what did elk taste like.  Ahhh…food. I don’t know. My mom just cooked us delicious food. I seriously do not know that I was aware which animal it came from…except chicken, of course…I could tell chicken from beef or elk.  

    I have two sisters who have lived in our home town their entire lives…it hasn’t changed much. People in the rural West are friendly, helpful, waaaay less judgy that most people in a city, and have a strong sense of “live and let live.”

    • #8
  9. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Sounds awesome. 

    • #9
  10. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    Parents bring their Kindergartners to a birthday party, and then leave.

    This was my party when I was a kid in Ontario.  Ah the 80s.  

    A lot of what you describe was and is standard fare in Rural Ontario.

    • #10
  11. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Cow Girl (View Comment):
    a friend asked me what did elk taste like.

    My wife ordered elk in a restaurant.  I had a bite, and it was delicious.  I thought it tasted much better than deer . . .

    • #11
  12. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    Stad (View Comment):

    Cow Girl (View Comment):
    a friend asked me what did elk taste like.

    My wife ordered elk in a restaurant. I had a bite, and it was delicious. I thought it tasted much better than deer . . .

    It is DEFINITELY better tasting than deer. My dad would also hunt deer. We’d eat the liver (for breakfast, actually!) and he’d have the rest made into jerky. He didn’t really like deer meat especially, but it made good jerky.

     

    • #12