Saturday, September 17, 2011

Welcome to Big Sky Country

It’s been nearly 3 months since our move to Montana. I’ve been meaning to post something about our move, the new home and all the oddities we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing for quite some time now! Though, I will say, that we’ve been busy. With this many mountains, rocks, rivers, lakes and bears, it’s easy to fill up every inch of free time with fun in the outdoors. My main stress is which activity to pick from. Seriously, I feel like a kid in a candy store. And even though George and I have gorged ourselves with miles of hiking, climbing, biking and whatever else, instead of wanting to take a breather, we’ve become crazy-eyed outdoor junkies. 

The move from Texas was interesting. We knew we were moving, but didn’t know where to until two or three weeks beforehand. The Lone Star state had been very good to us and we had met some wonderful people, but it was time to move on (cue Tom Petty song). We had recently been granted full nomadic status with my fulltime remote employment and George’s applications for seasonal positions at national parks. Whether we were going to move into a travel trailer or just haul all our stuff across the country numerous times, we knew the one thing we probably needed was a truck. So, of course, we find the most dodgy looking dealership on the outskirts of Dallas to sell us a grungy looking, golden truck with a few mysterious bullet-sized holes in the back. Did I mention it came sans title? Let’s not get into that. Lets just say we have it now. George is magical when it comes to haggling titles out of El Salvadorians who speak very little English…

So with the truck and a trailer (we decided against the travel trailer idea), we were ready to go. Where to? We were thinking Colorado at the time – it seemed nice enough. Just before we were about to find a place in Fort Collins, George received an offer for a position as a backcountry ranger in Glacier National Park, Montana. I promptly found us what looked like a very nice rental in a small town close to the park and off we went.

Thirty three hours later we arrived in Montana. After a trip like this, one tends to feel a little crazy. I thought I was hallucinating when we finally reached the house I had rented all the way from Texas. The property managers had posted many pictures of the little house, though I had never realized that they only showed the top half. The house, in fact, sat on top of a garage in the middle of a sad looking, trailer parkish neighborhood. The neighborhood was not the bad part, however. The neighborhood was just dandy. What set me back just a little was the man living in a dumpy little trailer in our front yard, just a few feet from our front door. He was nice enough, apart from the sad mullet on his head and his lack of front teeth. We soon found out that the house belonged to his mother and that she had granted him space in her front yard to set up his shanty. Richard (that’s Mr.Mullet) and his friend (who he said was just visiting, but we later found out was also a permanent fixture) cooked their food in a fire pit outside our front door and spent the day drinking beer in the yard.  Their numerous broken down vehicles scattered around the property gave it a nice final touch of shantydom.

I’d like to think of myself as a pretty flexible individual. I felt bad for Richard and his friend. They were sad leftovers in a world that can be brutal and unforgiving. Sympathy aside though, I thought it would’ve been nice of the property management company to let me know that the house came with a man with no teeth living in the backyard. We hadn’t signed the lease yet and decided that we’d rather look for something else and try to get our deposit back.

When we confronted the property management company about our yard dweller, they became very defensive. “He’s just like having another neighbor!” they said. A neighbor with whom we share utilities? “And he looks after the yard!” To this I responded “that’s great, though it would’ve been nice to know that the man who looks after the yard also lives in it.” They truly did not seem to, or want to, understand why I had a problem. To me it just seemed like something you ought to mention to prospective renters. Many arguments later we got back most of the deposit. I vowed never to rent remotely again.

We found another home and moved our belongings (for the second time that day) into the new apartment. Our landlord seemed genuinely sympathetic towards our predicament and let us move in that same night. 

So here we are. We live in Montana now. We roll with the locals and soon I will be saying “Ay” and “you knooo.” As for the mountains, they’re even more amazing than I had imagined. Montana seems to be what dreams are made of.  The only thing missing are our friends scattered across the world. So how about it? Ya’ll coming or what?