Bill Muhlenfeld is owner and publisher of Distinctly Montana magazine and other publications. He lives in Bozeman with his wife and co-owner, Anthea George, and always finds time to enjoy the great outdoors, when he is not writing about it...
When we decided to move to Bozeman, Montana, late last century there were a number of criteria on our checklist: College town. Check. Great access to outdoor recreation. Check. Good Schools. Check. Good access by air. Check. Check, check, check...the list was quite lengthy. One thing that was not on the list, but has long since been added in a premium position is TRAFFIC.
I read recently that a particular roadway in Chicago, our old hometown, has the worst traffic in America. Not to put too fine a point on it, but on our recent trip to Bangkok we traveled on a highway that pumped out 1 million cars a day, along with all the exhaust, noise and heavy metal claustrophobia one could bear. That's right, the entire population of Montana down this one road in just one day. Sheesh!
When I think of all the wasted time I suffered in Chicago traffic jams (before the helpful relief of nav systems and satellite radios) it makes me cringe in revulsion. I can remember sitting in traffic a mile away from my suburban home for 20-30 minutes at a time...such a waste.
Yes, Bozeman is becoming more crowded and I actually find myself getting impatient if I have to wait through two stoplight changes during tourist season; but I quickly rewind back to those days in Chicago, take a deep breath and wait another minute or two. More than once my travels have been interrupted by white-tail, elk,bison or horses crossing a road as if they owned it. And maybe they really do.
Driving in Montana is not a chore. It's a pleasure.