Listening To Montana

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In your boomer travels, has a place ever spoken to you? On arrival at a destination, did it feel as if you belonged in that very spot?

Did your heart beat faster when a voice from somewhere deep inside you said, “This is my paradise”! That’s what happened to me when Alan drove our car down the driveway to Mystic Rose Cabin near Fishtail, Montana.

cabin deck looking out onto green fields and mountains
Mystic Rose Cabin, Fishtail, Montana

Alan says my eyes lit up the moment we arrived. I bounded out of the car in a burst of energy to take in the view of the Beartooth Mountains. It wasn’t the cabin itself, which is a modest log structure meant for vacationing, not at all like the home away from home that we discovered at SweetSage Guest House in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

So why did I go all gaga over a simple log cabin that serves as shelter for hunters, fishermen, outdoor enthusiasts and boomers looking for a relaxing getaway?

It Was The View From The Deck

Beartooth Mountains from the deck

In the mornings, I’d sit on that wooden paradise drinking a hot cup of coffee, my itchy travel feet propped on the railing. I’d watch deer grazing in the field to the accompaniment of water gurgling in West Rosebud River, just down the hill.

Beyond the deer’s playground, rolls of baled hay were scattered across the land like pieces of a giant’s chess game—some bales stood straight and tall, while others were tipped on their side as if the giant had knocked them over in a fit of anger because he lost the game.

Beyond the fields, majestic mountains touched the sky—the Beartooth Mountains. If I had the wherewithal to climb over the crest, I’d be gazing at the natural glory of Yellowstone National Park.

In the afternoons, I’d watch the dark cloud drama of thunderstorms gathering across the mountains when nature put on an electrical show just for me. Suddenly a lightning bolt pierced the edge of an alpine peak followed by a clap of thunder that reverberated throughout the valley. No longer considering the deck a paradise, I scurried inside to the safety of sturdy log construction.

Becoming One With The View

East Rosebud River

Alan and I took early morning walks down empty dirt roads, waving to the occasional neighbor motoring by on their way to who knows where or campers turning onto West Rosebud Road for the 14-mile journey to the campground near Mystic Lake.

On rambling drives, we’d discover modest houses, vacation cabins teetering on stilts near a river’s edge, tractors raking strands of hay into giant rolls and horses galloping across the thousand-acre ranch of some mighty mogul. On our way back to the cabin, we’d stop for dinner at off-the-beaten-path eateries like Grizzly Bar and Restaurant in Roscoe or Montana Jack’s (out of business) down the road from the cabin in Nye.

Civilization resides just 6 miles north of Mystic Rose Cabin at Fishtail, where a general store is the glue that holds the community together. You can find most anything in that store from hunting supplies to local crafts to a surprisingly fine bottle of wine.

Two buildings away, we’d order ham and eggs, pancakes on a separate plate please, at the Cowboy Bar while eavesdropping on the conversation between the waitress and other patrons. Were they boomer retirees looking for a back-to-nature home or third-generation ranchers scrabbling to hold onto the land?

A View I Could Live With

woman on a deck drinking coffee looking at the mountains
Taking in the view at Mystic Rose Cabin

I could live here, if the winters weren’t so rough, if Costco were closer, if Fishtail had a Chico’s and a Starbucks—if, if, if.

I’d learn to ride a horse. I’d stand in the river wearing waders fly-fishing with the best of them. I’d hike into the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness to the jingling of bells tied onto my shoes to scare away the grizzlies.

I’d feel the cold spray on my face from a rafting trip down the Stillwater River. I’d stand outside on a cool summer night to view the Milky Way smeared across the dark sky, billions of stars making up that long, white blur that city dwellers never see.

But, mostly, I’d sit on a deck with a killer view, tapping out stories on the laptop’s keyboard about a land that holds sway over this boomer writer.

Scratch those itchy travel feet!

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