Mining Memories In Montana

Where the days last forever

The hours you won’t measure

The memories you will treasure

It’s a camping state of mind.

When the odometer flipped 2,400 miles, we knew we were no longer on an island in the middle of the Pacific. While it’s a good distance to travel, it’s just a fraction of the distance we will go before we finish this adventure in the American West.

After our tour of the Centennial state, our tires turn towards Montana’s Big Sky Country. Whizzing across southern Wyoming, we pass by big rig truckers and desolate landscape on I-80.

Heading north, the dramatic landscape returns as the peaks of the Rocky Mountains once again are thrust into the blue skyline when we reach Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Crossing into Montana, a local rancher driving an old Ford truck flashes us a shaka sign – the first one we’ve received on this trip.

I beleive Montanans are a lot like Hawaiians: friendly, hard-working, unpretentious people who cherish the land and their laid-back lifestyle. We know this because our ancestral roots run deep in this state.

Both our immigrant ancestors settled in Montana. Seizing the opportunity provided by the Homestead Act of 1862, my mother’s family from England settled and farmed 160 acres in Townsend Montana. My father’s family came from Slovenia in 1920 and settled in Butte Montana to mine the Anaconda Copper Mine. Trenton’s families came from England and settled in what is now Dillon Montana in 1865.

Montana remains the Wild West where animals still outnumber people. Compared to Colorado, which is America’s 8th largest state with 104,094 sq. miles and 5 million residents, Montana is America’s 4th largest state with 147,039 sq. miles with 4 million less residents.

We tour south to north, up the spine of the Rocky Mountains. Throughout its countryside, abandoned barns, homesteads and mineshafts stand as statues of pioneer’s hopes and struggles come and gone. Antelope jump around the cattle, moose forage in the willows, bison roam the parries, elk and deer munch in the meadows and eagles soar in the sky on mid-day thermals.

Like traveling in the belly of chipped Lutz marble, frosty jagged mountain tops shoulder a layered landscape of green pines, silver sagebrush flats, white rivers, and golden grasslands that whip in the wind like fringe on a suede buckskin coat.

The charms of the Treasure State dangle in every direction. From Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park and everything in-between, I see why Montana’s slogan is, “The Last Best Place.”

It meets many of my requirements for what I want in a new home – a rural setting, away from the rat race, full of charm and friendly characters. It’s definitely a contender.

The question is, can this Island Girl handle Montana winters? I’ll need to think long and hard about that one!

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