Oh, Montana, how we did love thee. … Let me count some ways:
1. The people are so friendly! Everyone we ran into — if they found out we were from out of town — would step back and open their palms and say, “Well, welcome to Montana!” No joke.
2. It’s so beautiful there. Really, all the land, the green, the rivers, the trees. … It was like being in a movie set every day.
3. It stays light there until almost 10 p.m. in the summer! I couldn’t get used to it. But I loved it. It was so weird that 9:30 felt like dinner time. (But we were told that, in the winter, it gets dark at 4:30 p.m., so there’s a flip side to that!)
4. Downtown Missoula is adorable. It’s got the historical thing going on, but is mixed with a youthfulness from the college and sort of a bohemian feel. One of their ads is “Missoula: We’re like Montana, only with green tea.” …
5. It’s got that small-town vibe where all the neighbors know each other, and no one locks their car or house.
6. The weather changes quickly (rain clouds rolled in one morning, were out by that afternoon), but it doesn’t stop anyone from doing what they want to do.
7. No sales tax!
8. The University of Montana is gorgeous.
9. Missoula is such a university town. Everyone is SO into Griz football, from the haircutting salon to the local bars to the nearby Dairy Queen. Apparently everyone gathers somewhere to watch the game — from a local bar to friends’ houses. And home games get a collection of viewers on the Missoula “M” (in the picture above — the stadium is just to the left). Everyone has Go Griz license plates, tail lights, flags, T-shirts. It seemed that restaurants all had some menu item named after the Grizzlies or the mascot Monte. Even our hotel had Griz mints!