Notes From the Road: 10 Things I Told Myself I’d Never Do in Yellowstone Country

When I first moved to Montana’s Yellowstone Country, I wanted to hold on to my east coast self pretty tightly. While I wanted to experience a more relaxed and easygoing life from the one I’d lived in New York City, I also didn’t want to lose the person that I’d become.

And that person definitely didn’t wear cowboy boots.

That being said, here’s a list of some of the things I told myself I wouldn’t do but I end up doing all the time, now that I’m a Yellowstone Country resident:

1. Talk to the lady at the grocery store. When I first got here, I was always terribly impatient at the grocery store. Especially small, locally owned ones. Like, seriously lady-in-front-of-me, I don’t have time for you to tell the cashier all about your three kids in kindergarten. Let’s move it along here. I have things to be doing.

Turns out I’m now that lady. And I side-eye the college kid behind me when she tries to give me a frustrated sigh that could only mean one thing: get moving, lady-who-talks-to-the-cashier.

2. Wear cowboy boots. Come on people. I know you aren’t ranchers. Or farmers. Those are the only real excuses to wear cowboy boots—provided you aren’t actually a cowboy I guess—and yet, the girl at my bank wears blue, studded cowboy boots daily. Just do what I do and wear normal sneakers or boots.

So said me, everyday until last fall, when I bought my own cowboy boots and realized what all the fuss was about. Now that I’m in the know, cowboy boots for everything.

3. Not honk at people when they don’t immediately hit the gas on green. Similar to the lady in line at the grocery store, it used to bother the bejeezus out of me when the car in front of me didn’t make haste upon the greening of the light. Now I’ve learned that, no matter how quick to the gas the line leader is, I’ll probably have to stop and wait at every intersection for a pedestrian to cross anyway, so I could probably relax on being an aggressive driver.

4. Get a dog. I luckily haven’t done this for real yet, but because I am so tempted to get one, I’ve basically been dog sitting for a new pup every week for the last year. Someone try to tell me you don’t get dog envy every single day. Go on … I dare ya.

5. Become a Patagonia/Prana/Mountain Hardware poster child. I never thought I’d say this, but technically functional outdoor wear is warm. And Yellowstone Country has been known to get occasionally cold. And with wind chill and snow and great stuff to do in all that snow and cold … I’m opting for warmth. As they say, when in Rome …

6. Lock my heels up in a safe. Heels = not practical when walking on winter sidewalks, streets, etc. I tried for a solid month to wear stacked heeled boots last November and then just gave up because, a) I fell daily and, b) I didn’t have health insurance (don’t worry, I do now). Rubber winter boots are now my staple, from October into May. And then, flip-flops everyday after that. Or maybe cowboy boots …

7. Resist the urge to sigh deeply when a customer service representative starts asking me about my personal life while they’re searching for my account. Because now I don’t care that my insurance company asks me about my weekend. I’d rather talk about myself than listen to painful “hold” music. Plus, I do get to brag a little bit about this great place I live.

8. Date a Montanan. Let alone move in with one. Looks like I’m 0 for 2.

9. Buy snow tires. Growing up on the east coast, we had winter, and, for short stints of it, we got snow and I had to drive in it. But the idea of shelling out money for tires that were specific to that shorter—and somewhat sporadic—occurrence was really never a thing. But now, with as much snow as we get and all of the things there are to do in it, I don’t want to miss out on any of it. As a result, yes, my car now rocks snow tires.

10. Pick up a hitchhiker. I know. It sounds dangerous, but really, when a sopping wet guy in head-to-toe rafting gear, wearing a life vest, toting paddles and sporting an ear-to-ear grin, sticks out their thumb on highway 191 along the Gallatin River, how can you not stop? I mean, it’s Yellowstone Country … everyone here’s as friendly as they get, so why not pay it forward?

What have you said you’d never do and then found yourself doing?