Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Driving in Montana

I did something yesterday that I can't ever recall doing before in my entire life. Nothing too earth shaking or difficult. Simply rare.

While stopped for a fillup at the GasitMart I went in and bought a big jug of wiper fluid and refilled the little reservoir under the hood.

Like I said, not too earth shaking. But it is unusual because at my previous address this was never done. My wiper fluid would get refilled at my semi-regular oil changes, A couple weeks out of the year in the bad weather I would use it regularly and that was it. Here in Montana I am pumping the crap on my windscreen daily and we are currently having nice sunny weather. It is just one of those odd little facts of Montana life. Your vehicle attracts dirt and you have to use lots of wiper fluid just to see out the window. I remember visiting California and how there were no dirty cars to be seen anywhere. Montana is the opposite, the attitude appears to be 'why fight it'.

Which brings me to some of my other observations about driving in Montana. The local drivers have no consistent style to their driving.

At one extreme you have the speed demons, usually driving dirty, rusted, old pickup trucks. These are the locals that know the roads like the back of their hand and are hell bent on getting somewhere. On the two lane highways they will hang right on your bumper until you get to the passing lane and then tear by you kicking up dust. But oddly these drivers are not in the majority. At least I expected more of them from the land of 'reasonable and prudent' speed limits.

At the other extreme are the laid back drivers. They appear to be living on 'Montana time'. No real hurry to be anywhere, usually cruising at about 5-10MPH below the posted limit, tolerant of all other drivers, showing no urgency or stress when caught behind the slowpoke logging truck going uphill. In a way I admire the attitude, except when I really want to be somewhere and I am behind them. There appears to be more members of this group than of the speed demons.

And that leaves us with everyone else who fit into the middle between the extremes. Oddly I find the 'everyone else' group to be the minority on the roads here. Another observation is that many drivers transition from one extreme to the other without any apparent reason. Another observation is that the interaction of all these disparate groups is so... friendly.

Everywhere else in this country that I have had the pleasure of driving, and that is a lot of places, there always appears to be a local 'style'. Sometimes fast, sometimes medium, almost never slow. Sometimes the locals are red light runners. Sometimes they are green light honkers. There is usually consistency. Here the only consistent thing is friendliness. The speed demons are friendly and tolerant with the slow pokes blocking them. The slow pokes are friendly with the school bus drivers. The school bus drivers wave to the logging truck drivers. Everyone pretty much lets everyone else do their thing.