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Old 03-17-2010   #11
tyaker's Avatar
Farmington, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 140
Yeah, the life-stage thing plays a lot into what we're lookin' at. We don't tear up the late bars/clubs anymore, and having some decent easy floats for swimming the dogs is good, too. Thanks for the more positive tone, too, Outlaw. Boating's important, but not the absolute be-all/end-all. Sounds like we wouldn't go completely nuts...

mttodd- yeah, if your friend wouldn't mind a couple of questions about the scene up there, shoot me a PM

First step is to get into school up there, though. Thanks for the input!

4 out of 3 people have trouble with fractions.
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Old 03-18-2010   #12
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
I love these where to live small town discussions for convergence of boating, climate, scene/vibe, affordabilty, outdoor opportunities, not too many people but enough infrastructure.

I used to be a front ranger and it would be hard go back (not trying to start a war but I just hate traffic and crowds). From my limited drive thru Great Falls I think if you loath crowds, can handle the cold winter, don't mind a red city in a red state, and think mountain biking with a bear bell beats out being able to buy things in person you'll love it.

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Old 03-18-2010   #13
tyaker's Avatar
Farmington, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 140
Huh- good thing you like these discussions, cuz I'm applying to MSU-Great Falls, as well as San Juan College in Farmington, NM, and OIT in La Grande, OR.... Keep your eyes peeled for more info requests on those towns, too, although I already know enough about Farmington to be mostly excited for that opportunity.

4 out of 3 people have trouble with fractions.
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Old 03-18-2010   #14
West of Boulder, CO
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 96
And let's not forget that Great Falls is the home of one of our next up-and-coming Superfund sites:

NPL Site Narrative for ACM Smelter and Refinery | National Priorities List (NPL) | US EPA
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Old 03-18-2010   #15
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
Hmm, maybe I was still in pain from my weekend swim when I diss'd GF. I'm also likely jaded because Missoula is such a great place to live as a community and for recreating.

Great Falls is in the plains, considered "eastern Montana" in the grand scheme of things which typically translates to very conservative and flat. However, the Front Range is one of my favorite places on the planet, and you're an hour away from that. The "Bob" is a great place to backpack. Most people I know from there hate it, but really, who has left their birth-home that likes it? It is extremely windy, which really just means you should take up windsurfing. There's probably no one to teach you there though (certainly no shops), and the reservoirs are kind of small for sailing unless you have a small laser or something. Right now, that area is the place to be as the snow geese (or are they swans?) are migrating through and Freezeout Lake is swarmed with them. I've always wanted to go check that out, and might have to now that I'm hurt. The boating is mostly flat, but the Missouri Breaks are gorgeous, more of a canoe trip, but probably something you'll always be glad you did as life progresses. Recreating is not crowded, except for the usual fishing/hunting scene.

While it's "flat", it has a ton of variation and if you hit the remote backroads there are some amazing places to be found.

So it's not a rad-dude extreme mountain/boating community. It might be a bit hard to break into as an outsider. Honestly, when we used to go to the Front Range more frequently, we used to joke we should get personalized plates so people wouldn't know we're from Missoula. (counties are designated by the #). I think the military base also exerts a lot of influence on the town.

If you're into creeking it might be tough, Missoula is 3 hours away and I'm not sure how far Bozeman/Columbus is. You will get comfortable driving long distances, it's just the norm anywhere in Montana. The MF Flathead has a good day run section, but that might be 2 hours from GF?

As the other poster says, if you go and then leave, you'll probably find you miss many things about it. I came to montana to go skiing and to go to college, and found I could just never leave. Everyone thinks there is something special about where they live, but Montana is still really mellow and uncrowded compared to most Western States (except WY). Many find that the "worst" places are worth suffering poor wages for, vs some of the "best" places in other states. Watch out, you'll find yourself wanting to stay in-state, but jobs are scarce and the "scenery tax" (low wages) is massive. At least GF shouldn't have hugely inflated real estate prices like Western Montana.

If you love it, awesome, if you hate it, it's only 2 years. If you are open to finding out what is enjoyable there, and different types of recreation than you do now, it'll probably grow on you, or at least the greater area.

Oh, and don't be freaked out by grizzlies (a lot of people are), they're not really a problem, I love seeing them (preferably at a safe distance). You just have to be smart about your behavior and activities.
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 03-18-2010   #16
tyaker's Avatar
Farmington, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 140
Wow, good useful insight, Laura! We were initially thinking about going for the cheap real estate, but if we decide it's only the two school years, we may just rent. Figuring on the small, chill, mom-n-pop style ski hills for winter weekends an hour away, a little floating here and there on the Smith and the Dearborn, and running the dogs on the river paths, maybe even hucking what's left of the Falls below the dam...
4 out of 3 people have trouble with fractions.
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Old 03-18-2010   #17
Land of Lovin, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,449
I just finished reading Undaunted Courage about Lewis and Clark's voyage, what a shame they have dammed almost all of the falls.

How sweet would it be to drive to the plains to run 5 waterfalls??
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Old 03-18-2010   #18
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 133
Send a message via ICQ to northfwestg

nothin here in this state to see, economy in the shitter, phd,s workin at the corner store, dry winter, means burning summer, and for forks sake, stick to Oregon son, the folks will be alot nicer to you out there
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Old 03-18-2010   #19
Denver via GJ, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 333
Ihowemet and Outlaw are right on. For two years I would chaulk it up to the experience and you will learn to love the state with exception of the weather. Don't be afraid to explore because there may be good water out their that does not get much attention. Even when I lived im Missoula there was not a very large kayaking scene (I know thats changed now) so its quite possible for things to get overlooked.

When my wife and I lived in Big Sky, we were gone exploring most weekends so meeting people was kind of a non-issue, despite that we still made some great friends. Add to that you will be in school you will likely find enough to fill your social calender. Another plus is Great Falls is a regional center for northern Montana, so there are regular events and music tours coming through.

Note: Northfwestg comments, as usual serve no real purpose.
"I plan to leisurely advance through my existence" - Terry Fuhrman 1991
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Old 03-18-2010   #20
tyaker's Avatar
Farmington, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 140
Northfwestg, you sound bitter. I'm from small town Oregon originally, spent 28 years there, and I know they have the same meanies that exist everywhere else. Ain't gonna keep me from a wide-open view.

-k-, you've been more than helpful. Really enjoying the different aspects all y'all are contributing. Keep 'em comin and we can publish a friggin Montana tourism brochure.

4 out of 3 people have trouble with fractions.
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