A World Away
By: Tom Fletcher, CFP®
A couple of weeks ago during my son’s spring break, my family and I again headed west to enjoy some skiing. This time at Big Sky Montana. Having never visited that particular part of the country previously, it was shocking how much it felt a world away from Boston. And I guess it really was. Our first day there, when the raindrops began to fall I overheard a local man exclaim “this is the first rain we’ve had here since October!” He seemed downright happy about it. I on the other hand had a very sick feeling in my stomach, because 2,500 miles away, New England was getting dumped on by a massive March snowstorm! That is the worst kind of woe is me for a skier.
Montana is just gorgeous. A decade or two ago (let’s call it what it is, “the old days”) I would have had to buy another couple rolls of Kodak film after our drive from Bozeman to Big Sky. It seemed like every bend in the road had one more impressive vista after the last. Streams, mountains, boulders, moose, bighorn sheep - yeah, they’ve got those. We even saw a donkey. Or was it a deer? No, it was mule deer! It honestly could have been either one. I have a picture to prove it, but the quality is so grainy it could also be mistaken for Sasquatch. And the sky really is big and crystal clear.
The good news about the rain (I guess), is that it happened on the one day we weren’t skiing. We had previously reserved some spots on a specially modified snow coach at Yellowstone National Park, which is about an hour drive from Big Sky. Another roll of film please. Yellowstone leaves the park roads unplowed throughout the winter. The only way to get around is via snow coach or snowmobile. Initially I admit I was pretty jealous of the snowmobilers whizzing by with their fancy helmets all clad in leather. They certainly had a certain swagger about them. The hour or two of rain though changed my mind and I’ll bet their swagger turned to squish. I imagine they were wondering what it was like to be sitting in a heated cabin snacking on dry pretzels and such while we pointed politely at the animals.
While it wasn’t the true purpose of our journey west, Yellowstone turned out to be amazing. In addition to the aforementioned animals, we also saw tons of bison, some elk, bald eagles and a solitary coyote. We also enjoyed seeing the geothermal geysers including Old Faithful, which erupted right on schedule.
Meanwhile back in Big Sky, the weather gods changed their minds and thankfully decided to bless us. The rain changed to a bunch of fresh snow (or “pow” as they call it). Five straight days of skiing in the pow just about killed my legs. By the end of the trip, I needed a vacation from my vacation. I was worn out!