Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
All day long we’ve been driving in Montana, which is cowboy country and mining country. To assist folks in distinguishing these from say the Midwest kind of country which also may have horses and cows, here are some distinguishing marks and features of cowboy country. You know you’re in cowboy country when you see:
• Cattleguards at the freeway entrances. Now, I grew up on a cattle ranch, and just about every rancher had a cattleguard at the main ranch entrance. It’s made of steel or wood beams with gaps in between them so that people or cars can pass over, but cattle can’t.
However, until today I’ve never in my life seen a cattleguard at a freeway entrance … must be cowboy country. However, the best guide to whether it’s cowboy country or not are the want ads … here were some clues from today’s local newspaper:
• The first three sections in the want ad of the local paper are “Horses”, “Livestock”, and “Pets”. Don’t want to waste time going through ads for furniture to get to the good stuff, I guess.
• The largest section in the want ads is “Farm and Ranch Equipment” … followed closely by “Guns”.
• The first two ads in the “Miscellaneous For Sale” section of the local paper are for sausage stuffing machines … definitely cowboy country.
• There are advertisements like “LIFE SIZE Tom Mountain Lion Mounted on a Rock $550”.
• The “Homes For Sale” section of the want ads includes trailers.
• You can be sure that you’re in cowboy country when the “Antiques” section of your newspaper offers you the unparalleled opportunity to buy an “Antique Manure Spreader, Built Early 1900”, for only $800 …
• And the final clue that we’re in cowboy country? The fact that the day after the finals of the FIFA World Soccer Cup, there was no mention of soccer in the paper anywhere … quite refreshing, actually.
How about signs that it’s mining country? Well, big holes in the ground in the middle of cities are kind of a clue … here’s a giant open-pit mine in the city of Butte, Montana, which sprung up on the place called the “Richest Hill In The World” because of the precious metals taken out of it …
Then you have the fact that about one bar in three in Butte is an Irish pub … given the number of early miners who were from Ireland, I suppose that’s no surprise.
Finally, I learned that you can tell a mining town from other towns by their preferred choice of anaesthetics …
Today was another day when the emergent phenomena controlled the temperature. It was clear in the morning. Then when it got hot, we got cumulus clouds to reflect much of the solar energy back to outer space. And finally, as the earth heated even more, we got a whole complex of thunderstorms, with cold rain and winds that knocked the temperature right back down again.
My best to all of you, dear friends, and my sincere hope that your lives are as full of antique manure spreaders and Overland Rye Whiskey as is mine,