Monday, November 23, 2009

Winter roads ...

Though I'm a true fan of long Montana drives, I'll confess to slightly mixed emotions about doing it in the winter. There's the whole snow thing, of course, and the ridiculously short days, and the frigid north wind that seems to appear every time you stop for a bathroom break. But there are real joys, too, that you just don't experience in the summertime. There are fewer tourists, and the winter light makes for great photographs, and the snow itself is often really lovely.

Here's a photo I took on Saturday to illustrate some of that. This is US 191, somewhere between Big Timber and Harlowton.


  1. Hmmm. That topic could spark an entire 2 page post on my blog.
    I love your pictures! They are a real slice of life in Montana as a whole. I look forward to your Montana perspective each day.Thanks!
    I've been preparing my house for the influx of relatives on Thanksgiving and seeing your photos is making me itch to get outside and take advantage of the season and the light!

  2. And there's something about travelling these roads alone too. They seem to take on an entire new and different personality/look when you pass down their path solo.

  3. Traci, I know what you mean! My opinion of Montana winter driving is pretty varied, partly depending on the weather ... but mostly, I think, also depending on whether or not the trip is being made for fun. If a drive is part of an unwanted obligation, having to do it in the snow makes it a million times worse.

    And thank you for the good words. I really love taking the photos, and I do hope I'm able to capture a little bit of Montana with them.

    Hope you have a good holiday! I'm off to visit relatives in Missoula and the Bitterroot ... which at least means I don't have to do any housecleaning beforehand. :)

  4. Morgan, I absolutely agree ... and in a way, I particularly love doing these long drives on my own. It's good for the spirit, maybe because it gives me more of a chance to reflect on the world around me, and commune with it. Those opportunities are pretty rare in day-to-day life.

  5. It's almost a relief when the snow covers the brown bleakness of the prairie winter, here in Eastern Montana. I can forgive the ice and drifting for the blessed crisp, clean landscape! (I say that snow, here, yet. We'll talk again in January...)

    You get more winter tourists in Bozeman, by token of the skiing, but we have nothing for tourists, unless they took a wrong turn in Great Falls. Have you heard the Rob Quist song "The Big Deepfreeze"? The chorus talks about how "there ain't nothing like a western breeze to blow away the cowboy wannabes". To say the least.

  6. You know, I don't really mind the barren landscapes of autumn and early winter ... there's something kind of evocative about all that. What I really hate is March, when everything is bleak and muddy, and we're all ridiculously anxious for summer to get here. We don't really have much of a springtime in Montana, and that's one thing I'd change about the place if I could.

    I'll have to go look up that Rob Quist song ... but the lyrics sound like they ring true. So many people move to Bozeman with an unrealistically-romantic notion of the place, and then get scared off after the first winter or two. (And as far as Bozeman's tourists go, you can have them!!! While I'm at it, I'll ship out all the trophy homes owned by the out-of-staters, too. :)

  7. Ya know, for a guy who hates Big Evil Corporations like Exxon so much, you'd think you wouldn't contribute so much by your driving hobby. Don't you have a Prius yet? ;)