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Head in the clouds

When people think of Montana, they think of mountains. And we do have lots of mountains, especially in the western part of the state. But just east of where I live the Great Plains begin. North and South Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Nebraska join us in making up the Northern Great Plains — land of playing antelopes and roaming buffalo. Or at least that’s how the song goes.

The mountains in central and eastern Montana are called island ranges. They pop up out of the plains like rooster combs, unconnected to longer chains like the Rockies.

The Bridger Range lies just north of Bozeman. The storms we get in winter come screaming across the valley and get caught on the Bridgers; we can get an inch of snow in town and the mountains will get 20. We call this the Bridger Bowl Cloud and there is a light on the tallest building on Main Street that blinks to let the skiers know that though it’s dry in town, it’s snowing in the hills.

I’ve lived in Bozeman for 13 years now and sometimes I get the urge to leave: there are so many amazing places you could live. But learning patterns like the Bridger Bowl Cloud — the little secrets about a place that make it unique — make it awfully hard to leave.

Tell me, what are the idiosyncrasies about where you live? What makes you stay? Tell me the story of your town.


  1. Well there are many idiosyncrasies! The place I lived for 25 years…outside of Boulder in the mountains (CO) had things like heavy wind alert (often in the winter there); the coconut telegraph for the ski area, e.g. how windy is it today? Are they loading only triple chairs or are they allowing singles? (always a sign of wind…when no singles are allowed)..
    now here in the San Juan’s in Southern CO there is no wind to speak of, but there is much dialogue among locals as far as snow conditions at Wolf Creek, x country conditions at the golf course and many other areas that the nordic club grooms for skate and x country…etc!

  2. I live south of Missoula in the bittterroot valley of Montana. Been here 28 years. Came here as a single mother straight out of Texas by way of Georgia. I was just saying today to my husband how much I love this part of the country.

    And it has to do with mountains they are Majestic! I love the woodstoves, cabins, snow, wildlife and small one horse town we are near. I could never leave.

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