I’m a camping nut.
You could park a Ferrari in front of me, and I’d yawn. But show me a quality tent, and a fine headlamp, and I’m excited as hell.
Two of my favorite campgrounds are in Glacier National Park. Another in Olympic National Park, and another in Redwood National Park. The last campground, and perhaps my favorite of all is within the Gallatin National Forest of Montana. I had not been to this campground in almost two years, and when I arrived, my favorite site had seen a few changes….
A windstorm knocked a tree down and crushed the concrete picnic table. Trust me, this table was useful. And I suppose I could still cook on it.
Here, my girlfriend Rachel poses after chopping firewood for the evening. Actually, that’s the work of the U.S. Forest Service, cleaning up the downed trees. Still impressive when you consider these trees are old growth specimens.
There’s a saying in real estate: “location, location, location”. Well, with a good tent, you always have the best location on our public lands. There’s something about camping in the open spaces, listening to a nearby stream as you drift off, or the wind in the pines that connects me not only to our ecosystem, but all ecosystems across the void.
As always, keep it wild, and keep it public.
Back in the late 1990’s, my father and I used to pour over maps and property magazines. The target? The Bitterroot Mountains south of Missoula, Montana. This had been a dream for quite some time.
But as the years passed, we never did end up buying property in the Bitterroot Mountains. Instead, I moved right into the middle of Missoula, within walking distance from everything I could need. And these days (thanks largely to climate change), the Bitterroots are a tinderbox, and seemingly always on fire during late summer and early fall.
What I learned is that perhaps we don’t always need to buy land or build right next to the greatest places. Maybe, just maybe knowing they’re near is good enough. As mankind pushes and roads the last roadless habiat, places like the Bitterroot will vanish. But for now, this spectacular wilderness complex exists relatively intact, as this bald eagle will attest to (left side of the image).
Today marks my two year anniversary of living in Missoula.
At the time, I had just finished filming in Glacier National Park, and set up “camp” at the Wingate hotel, lol. I’d just launched my debut novel so I was feeling free despite enduring a polar vortex, with wind chills down to – 60 in parts of Montana. The plan was to head back to Chicago after the storm.
I never did.
Instead, I hit up Craigslist and checked out a condo up in the South Hills. I plunked down some cash, and stayed.
I didn’t know anyone. But soon, I met great people…perhaps the friendliest I’ve ever known.
There’s a song by the artist Grizzly Bear that contains this lyric:
Silver and silent rushing on
Endless abundance overflows
Always surround you, always glows
That’s how I feel every morning in Montana. A land where the pavement ends. Where the strip malls end. Where rows of houses end.
It’s been an amazing two years. I hope to see more.
Occasionally I’ll post nature images to this site. Here’s one of the latest, an up close look at a bald eagle in Glacier National Park.
I was lucky to get up to Glacier National Park from October 4-5th. On this shot, we had just emerged from miles of fog on the east side of Logan Pass. The west side felt tropical in comparison.