Saturday, August 1, 2009

Greetings from Big Sky Country

After arriving yesterday afternoon at Helena Regional Airport, I quickly noticed that Montanans are friendlier than Seattleites. By a wide margin. They strike up conversations simply because they're in the same space as you. They offer you fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies when you check into their hotels. They share taxis with you, to be friendly but also because there's only one taxi company in town, and sometimes the next cab won't be coming for an hour. We asked our driver how long she'd lived in Helena -- she was born around here -- and she said: "Too long." I shared the car with a nice couple visiting from Alaska. They had a satisfyingly negative view of Sarah Palin and Ted Stevens; the wife was in town to help lead a yoga retreat.

Last night, the groom's male friends, myself included, threw him an impromptu "bachelor party" that was really just a brief bar-hopping spree. We met some locals, discussed marriage and relationships, and got to bed by 1 a.m. Today I had a crepe for breakfast and read The New Yorker, got my Facebook fix, and had a fantastic veggie burger for lunch at an (ostensibly) Irish pub. Now I'm about to go swimming in the hotel's heated pool. The ceremony isn't until four o'clock. (Did I mention I'm in town for the wedding of my Oberlin friends Jesse Groman and Abby Person?)

The rehearsal dinner last night was splendid, and just the way I want mine to be someday: relaxed, fun, and full of nice people and delicious food. And random dogs. And homemade lemon sorbet for dessert, served in emptied-out lemon halves. This mini-vacation I'm on was sorely needed, and I hope to take more weekend trips in the near-ish future. Sometimes a change of scenery can be incredibly refreshing. (By the way, the picture above is of Helena's downtown cathedral, which I hope to see before I leave town tomorrow afternoon.)

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