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Montana Mon, Aug 06, 2007
I just spent a week on vacation in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, stopping off in Missoula to visit a friend from college, the National Bison Range to check out some roaming buffalo, Glacier National Park to see some snow-covered mountains, and Yellowstone National Park to visit the nation's first national park.  Here's a list of interesting things I learned: 
  1. Glacier National Park doesn't have many snow-covered mountains during the summer.
  2. Montana stays light until around 9 or 10pm during the summer.
  3. Most, if not all, Montana towns have a large white letter painted or somehow otherwise emblazoned on a nearby hillside, representing the first letter of the name of the town.
  4. Most, if not all, Montana farms and towns have irrigation ditches (essentially a small stream of fresh water), which carry water to plants and lawns.  You can use water from the irrigation ditch, but only if you have rights to it.
  5. In the mid- to late-90s, Montana's speed limit was "Reasonable and Prudent", which essentially meant "whatever you want".  This was changed in 1999 to be slightly more reasonable:  75 on interstates and 70 on most other roads.  Montana is the first place I've ever felt unsafe while going under the speed limit.
  6. Meth is a big problem in Montana, or at least it was assumed to be big enough to attract the attention and advertising dollars of billionaire Thomas Siebel for something called the Montana Meth Project.  The weirdest example of this was driving hundreds of miles on a state highway and seeing nothing, until suddenly coming to a barn whose roof had a large painted message reading, "Meth ... Not Even Once".
  7. Wildfires are essentially good, unless they get too close to houses and cities.  Many plants and trees actually depend on fires to survive, so most fires are allowed to burn.
  8. Yellowstone National Park is essentially a national park located inside the crater of a volcano, complete with hot water springs, geysers, bubbling sulfur, and boiling mud.  All these phenomena are caused by underground magma, which, like all those Discovery Channel disaster shows talk about, will eventually erupt and cause the biggest natural disaster in the history of the universe, likely ending all life on earth.  In the meantime, it's a pretty cool place to walk around.
  9. Moose (plural) sometimes eat by standing fully submerged in a lake and nibbling plants off the bottom.
  10. Bison (plural) stick their tongues out when they roar/moo.
Here's a list of interesting things I experienced:
  1. I ate an almost completely organic, all-natural, and, more importantly, sustainable meal with my friend's family, complete with garden-grown vegetables, lake-caught fish, and gun-killed deer and antelope.
  2. I ate fresh kohlrabi, a garden-grown vegetable that looks like a head of cabbage and tastes like a radish.
  3. I/we drove 1700 miles in 8 days.
  4. I ate a buffalo burger right outside the National Bison Range.  This was later proven to be morally acceptable because many of the bison from the range are sold to local breeders and herders in order to further purify the bison currently living on the protected range.  The breeders and herders can do with these animals as they wish, which most likely means killing and eating them.  Bison meat is relatively low in saturated fat and cholesterol, but tastes surprising similar to beef.
  5. On the flight home, I had to fly from Spokane to Seattle to Newark.  My flight out of Spokane was a little delayed, but I had no problem making my connecting flight out of Seattle.  My bag (which was checked in Spokane), however, was unable to make the connecting flight.  But don't worry, it caught the next flight, which was 4 hours later.  I was unaware this was possible, and I was surprised no one in any of the three airports told me about it.  Airports are weird.


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