“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Non-judgment day is coming” – sticker at the Shady Spruce hostel
The US state of Montana is called “Big Sky Country”, and the popular skiing resort in Whitefish, Montana is called Big Mountain. Over the weekend, I travelled to the last three biggest urban area of Montana that I haven’t visited. These are Whitefish, Kalispell and Missoula. I have already visited the other biggest centers – Great Falls, Billings, Butte, Bozeman, Belgrade and Helena.
My previous impression about Montana is that it is a redneck, hillbilly state that has the most unattractive population in the US and worst dressed in the US outside of Florida. A huge sprawling state that (together with Eastern Idaho) made road trips to Vegas discouraging because you have to pass through this dull monotonous expanse of land. Each of the local people seem to have an unattractive physical attribute – from the typical obesity or out of shape, to some peculiar specific attribute like the shape of the head, the contours of the face or something wrong with the eyebrows, nose, etc. This just gives suspicion that some of these people are products of in-breeding.
My negative impression of Montana still hasn’t changed, except , Downtown and University area of Missoula. Whitefish, was a disappointment because it has the potential of becoming a hip skiing resort like Jackson Hole, with some promising establishments and infrastructure, but the local population is still representative of typical Montana and a lot of them don’t bother to dress a bit respectably and look like the usual dirty-looking rednecks.
Downtown and University area Missoula is in a different universe in Montana. As a big university, the University of Montana in Missoula, I suppose, has attracted the best young folks in Montana and in surrounding states. The general vibe is hip and liberal, and Barrack Obama even won twice in this area. “The Wilma” is a vintage entertainment establishment but has been equipped with state of the art sound systems and has hosted several popular acts. “The Roxy” which is the indie theatre in the area has been built in 1937 and has one of the best tasting popcorns ever. Suburban Missoula is a different case and is more representative of typical Montana. It only took me 15 minutes to check out the biggest mall located in suburban Missoula because there is nothing appealing with it.
The other positive thing about Montana is that the drive from the Canadian border to Whitefish is very attractive, and in my opinion, the landscape is even better than the other side of the border (Canada) because of the taller trees and other unique flora. It looks like Mother Nature made an effort to design the landscape in NW Montana, while the Canadian side is more like a monotony of very tall mountains and really tight plains in between.
There was also a section of land along the Flathead lake, the biggest freshwater lake in continental US, which is a beautiful display of the color green – emerald waters, jade green soil, dark green pines, moss green and grass green.
And lastly, the other positive side of Montana are the radio stations that has seem to have been stuck since the 80’s and play several of my favorite oldies that aren’t played on the Canadian side or since ever.