A couple of years ago while crossing the state making Montana photography I began keeping track of everything I liked about Montana. I then shared those thoughts with people on Twitter. These Tweets became popular with many of my followers. The list of things I liked about Montana grew so long I thought I better stop and capture them all so I could make one big list.
I know the list of things I like about Montana will continue to grow. And when it does I will add them here from time to time. Here they are:
People rejoicing when the temperature “warms” from -22 degrees to 0 degrees.
Every night is country night.
Ice pellets in the forecast. Ice pellets.
Being able to count the number of escalators in the state on one hand.
Fewer traffic accidents when the there was NO speed limit than it does now.
Amazing destinations that don’t require billboards.
Herds of sheep really ARE protected by sheep dogs. And llamas, too.
Being the lead truck on a dusty gravel road.
Beltian White beer from Harvest Moon Brewing Company.
Autumn lasts three months, not three hours.
Exfoliating my face when riding a motorcycle during mosquito season.
Neighbors helping neighbors.
The sound of silence.
Small women driving big trucks.
The chances of seeing a horse inside a bar are quite good.
It is legal to ride your horse home when you are drunk after a night at the bar.
Gulches, gullies, and coulees.
Huckleberry ice cream cones.
The beautiful diffused glow the sun makes when it sets during wheat harvest.
The smell of freshly cut hay.
That first cold beer during branding season.
4 out of 5 denim pockets have a big ol’ W stitched on them.
When an ad says, “We’re coming to a city near you,” you know they don’t mean you.
The tallest building in the state has only 20 floors.
Snow in June.
Empty shell casings that have fallen out of trucks and litter parking lots.
Dirty, dusty beaver felt cowboy hats.
Herds of tumbleweed dancing across the highway during a stiff wind.
Black cut-outs of leaning cowboys in every other yard.
No compelling reason to wash your pick-up truck for halfof the year.
The big sky.
Pussies who move to Montana don’t last very long.
More people (per capita) serving in the armed forces than any other state.
Cantankerous old ranchers and cowboys.
Piles of split wood.
The dimple of a rising trout.
The only real traffic one encounters is behind a herd of cattle ranchers are moving down the road.
Jockey boxes and borrow pits.
Everyone’s excitement with the new arrival of the Cabela’s catalog.
Grill guards and gun racks.
Runaway shopping carts moving at Mach 2 across a parking lot in the wind.
The week after Christmas when everyone wears their new Carhartt clothing and Wrangler jeans.
Hardly ever seeing a police car on most roads.
The 100+ miles in between gasoline stations.
Car lots filled with nothing but pick-up trucks.
Less than one million people in the entire state.
The lack of humidity means -20° F only feels like -5° F. If the wind doesn’t blow.
People who call animals “critters.”
Seeing people skiing in their Carhartt overalls.
People who say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes, it will change.”
Driving for hours on a highway in the middle of the night and not passing a single car.
Not every town has a grocery store, but every town does have a taxidermist.
Beers named Pigs Ass Porter, Trout Slayer, Moose Drool, Sharptail Pale Ale, and Scape Goat.
The endless row of Grade A beef at every grocery store.
Bird Tail Butte.
People who are still genuinely concerned about “losing their way of life.”
The multiple meanings and frequent use of the phrase, “You betcha.”
Living in the last place destroyed by aliens or infected with an epidemic in most movies.
Hunting knives are a fashion accessory.
Camping beneath a large moon in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
High leggings and long mullets.
Leaves turning golden yellow on groves of quaking aspen trees.
Stop signs riddled with bird shot holes.
Fly fishing in the fall.
Fur, feathers, and fleece.
Camping at Slippery Ann with the sound of elk bugling and coyotes howling all around you.
The good people of White Sulphur Springs.
A state legislature that only meets for two months every other year.
Living with the risk oc coming face-to-face with a grizzly bear, mountain lion, and/or rattlesnake every single day.
When the first cold snap of the year chases the tourists out of Glacier National Park.
The fact that the 8th largest city in the 4th largest state only has 8000 people.
A hot August sun and low humidity.
Parking under an irrigation unit in a field to wash your rig.
Watching coffee making become an art form.
That last hop gophers make as they dart across the road.
Legions of Harley Davidson’s passing through on their way to Sturgis.
Golden wheat dancing in a stiff wind moving like waves on an ocean.
Being bit by a Jurassic Park-sized mosquito and living to tell about it.
The Missouri River breaks.
Dipping your feet in Swiftcurrent Lake in the shadow of Mount Grinnell.
Fields full of large round bales.
Reaching the top of Logan Pass before the sun comes up (and before the tourists arrive).
When someone calls a pronghorn antelope a “speed goat.”
The first glimpse of mountains after driving across the large open prairie.
Snow capped mountains in the middle of summer.
Still seeing remnants of sunlight at 11 o’clock at night in the middle of summer.
Warm camp fires and bright starlit skies.
Driving the Beartooth Highway, white knuckles and all.
Roads with no names.
The large, endless sky.
Cowboys who still ride horse and rope cattle instead of using chutes and branding tables.
The start of rodeo season.
Snow that falls in May.
Seeing black Angus cattle on the flat, wide open prairie as far as the eyes can see.
Playing slalom with cow patties while driving on rural roads.
Beautiful women on horseback.
Lonely old churches and schools surrounded by nothing but Montana’s plains.
Hot branding irons.
Living on the rim of a giant, boiling volcano just waiting to blow (i.e. Yellowstone).
Real ghost towns…not of the Disneyland variety.
The return of branding season.
When convenience stores ARE convenient because they are separated by 60 or more miles.
Carhartt and Lee being considered designer labels.
Dirty pick-up trucks.
When the Coca-Cola machine is the only place open for business in a tiny rural town.
The sound of thousands of snow geese returning to Freezeout Lake in the spring.
People legally driving their ATVs down Main Street.
St. Patrick’s Day in Butte (and living to tell about it).
The hustle and bustle of downtown Bozeman.
Bison are called buffalo, pronghorn are called antelope, and native Americans are called Indians.
Old, antique cars everywhere just begging to be restored.
Japanese quarter horses (i.e. 4-wheelers).
Camping at Glacier National Park in the winter and feeling like you have the park all to yourself.
Women dancing on saloon tables.
Watching the temperature drop 30 degrees during a 10 minute drive.
Driving along side a train headed in the same direction on U.S. Highway 2.
Cowboy boots placed neatly on top of wooden fence posts for no apparent reason.
Gun racks in pick-up trucks.
Knowing there is always a Black Butte or Square Butte somewhere nearby.
A stiff Chinook wind that arrives in January and melts all of the snow in two hours.
Old grain elevators.
No sales tax.
Living in a place where the whole town shows up for high school basketball and football games.
Mountain roads without guardrails.
Empty roads on Christmas morning.
Enduring cold, dark winter months and living to tell about it.
Small town Christmas cheer.
More deer, elk, and cows than humans.
Log chains used as wind socks.
The endless cavalcade or warm corn dogs at every single gas station.
Bars called The Mint or The Stockman. In every…single…town.
Decorative stitching on the rear pockets of jeans worn by the many beautiful women here.
Not everyone rushing off to the stores like morons on the day after Thanksgiving.
High school team names (i.e. Dogies, Locomotives, Sheep Herders, Sugar Beeters, Trotters).
Watching everyone get so worked up over the annual Grizzlies/Bobcats football game.
Buffalo roaming (relatively) free at Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
6.8 people per square mile.
Colorful big sky sunsets and sunrises.
Halloween and trick-and-treating the old-fashioned way.
Taking a random, nameless gravel road and not knowing where it will lead.
Colorful autumn cottonwoods.
License plate numbers that identify what county you are from.
Short men who wear tall cowboy hats while driving subcompact cars.
4-wheelers allowed on the streets of most cities montana
Aspen trees turning gold in the fall.
Barbed wire pin-striping on pick-up trucks.
Small town stores selling “sundries” and “curios,” despite the fact I don’t know what they are.