First off, that photo above. Guys, that's the Northern Lights. Taken from our back deck. They've been visible a few times over the last few months and I'm hoping to capture more photos. This particular view was in October. I was driving home after a particularly miserable city meeting and thought something strange was happening (the thought process from a girl who's never seen the Northern Lights and had a bad night was comical).
When I need to blow of steam from those crazy meetings or otherwise stressful days at work, I can go for a run along the Missouri River. A trail runs along the river through town and beyond and you can pick it up all through town and go for a jog with a friend, with the pups or fly solo for some quiet time. I usually prefer the less popular areas since I tend to have conversations with myself and occasionally flail my arms during said conversations. If anyone sees me, they probably think I'm nuts.
We don't have a Gap, or Loft, or Chipotle, or Trader Joe's, or Panera or a lot of places I used to go in D.C. or at home, or even in 'bama, though we didn't have Chipotle or Trader Joe's in that town either. But, in Great Falls, we have great antique and second hand shops, my favorite is The Barn. There's also interesting, locally owned shops downtown that I wander through from time to time. Generally, I order new clothes online these days, but the lack of stores is certainly better for my bank account.
The lack of shopping leaves more time for other projects, and the lack of traffic has added hours back to my life. In D.C., I spent two to four hours commuting to work every day. One job was 20-something miles away and it could take hours to get there and back, depending on traffic and weather. The other job was 10-miles and I could probably run there faster than drive some days. In Great Falls, unless something extraordinary is happening, you can get from one side of town to the other in 20 minutes or less. I'm still late all the time, but it's nice to spend more time doing and less time driving. When people talk about rush hour and traffic jams, I just have to laugh. M and I call it the rush 15.
With all that extra time, I can meet more people in my day. Through work, I've been exposed to some of the nuttier residents, but generally, people are friendly, willing to help you out and much more easy going than the East Coast crowd. Sometimes it drives me nuts, since I still have that East Coast rush coursing through my veins, but it does teach you a level of patience (that I have not yet mastered). But what I have seen is a community that supports its members when called upon. They also show a tremendous level of support for their veterans and that's something I respect. It's not quite that town where everyone knows your name, though many seem to recognize my byline (pros and cons again), but it's small enough that what affects part of town will eventually affect the whole and they support each other when it counts.
What do you love about your town? What about it drives you bonkers?
Oh Hey! Alicia from Jaybird is visiting today.
She's been steadily moving west since high school and now blogs from Chicago, where she loves to read, try as many coffee shops as possible and write about pursuing happiness in her new home. On Jaybird, you'll find stories of trying to overcome challenges and navigate adulthood--always with an honest, positive perspective. Hopefully you will find support + inspiration to live your own best life, too.
If you're ever in Chicago, you need to meet Alicia for some delicious Thai, tacos or a coffee date full of blogging and life chats. It's seriously a great time. Until then, you need to read Dirty Words + Radical Acts and one of my favorite Jaybird posts, Banish Overwhelm and Just Get Through This. And if you're a blogger, you definitely need to read So You Want to be a Blogger.
When she breaks free from the abominably flat Illinois, she'll lace up the hiking boots and backpack, which will come in handy when she gets to visit Montana someday! I'll also be sure to have some tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and basil growing when she gets to visit since that's what she'd plant if she had a real garden. Until then, she's got a potted spider plant that just started reproducing and she's embarrassingly excited about (and I think it's awesome).
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