Shortly over the border in Montana
3 bored law students on break itching to hit the open road + 1 borrowed car = experiencing an authentic Montana high school rodeo.
We didn’t particularly have a destination in mind for our roadtrip as the general area of Montana was good enough. We weren’t sure if Sam would make it across the border as he had an incredibly old Hong Kong passport and an expired Canadian passport with no current proof of citizenship. Truth be told, we were half convinced that Sam would be rejected at the border or denied entry on the way back. Miraculously/sadly, neither happened. Perhaps the border crossing at Glacier National Park is more sympathetic to foreign looking tourists entering the country eager to snap photos of lakes and mountains.
First stop was a small town called East Glacier within Glacier National Park where we stumbled onto a high school rodeo in action. This was true Montana spirit in action and perhaps more authentic of the cowboy days than dare I say, the Stampede where it is filled with cowboy wannabe spectators dressed in pink faux-lizard cowboy hats. I did learn that you can get a full ride in university on a
Glacier national park
Looking closely, you can see the artful placement of the map guiding us through Glacier Nat'l Park in the sky.
rodeo scholarship based on your exceptional performance in calf-roping or breakaway and there is even a separate Indian Rodeo Association with over half of its members being university educated. The rodeo apparently provides an excellent opportunity for many youngsters to get off the reservation. For clarification, breakaway is an event the females participate in, with time being calculated on how long it takes to chase down the calf, slip the rope over its head and have it tighten to an extent that the rope breaks away from the horse and rider. Females at this event, also participated in animal-tying but they got to tie down goats which were already captured whereas males had to rope a calf AND tie down its legs.
We then continued our trip down south in Montana via Kalispell to the university town of Missoula famously known for the giant 100 foot letters L & M carved into the hillside above the university. The town was surprisingly pleasant, well maintained and contained trappings of yuppie culture, perhaps induced by the university population, including sushi restaurants, Starbucks and trendy clothing stores not selling the latest fashions from Kmart or SAAN. Sean was determined to visit an
The fine gentleman directed us towards the high school rodeo
absolute local establishment for drinks and eating, so we selected the Oxford CafÃ© and Bar highly recommended by the New York Times travel section. The establishment had character in spades ranging from the enormous bison head mounted on the wall, to the collector guns mounted above the bar or the sketchy patrons taking another drag while playing the VLTs or taking a sip of their $2 beer. The specialty of the Oxford was the chicken fried beef steak and that was a grand choice of food to end off the day for all things American the U.S. does well including chili cheeseburgers and milk shakes. This steak was a heart attack in a hurry as it was a battered steak deep fried in chicken fat, coated with a equally greasy slightly spicy sauce served on a bed of fried hashbrowns. As disgusting as it sounds, it was darn tasty and I hurried to get in that last bite of steak before my stomach violently protested.
We did notice there were numerous “Indian trading posts” boasting authentic American Aboriginal made artifacts ranging from clothing to ceremonial objects and weapons. These stores seemed to offer objects made from numerous Native American
groups across the country and not just from the Montana region. These stores oddly reflect the obsession America has with Aboriginal culture. Perhaps this extends back to the Cowboy and Indian times. I’m curious to know of what extent this has fascination has to do with the ongoing pot looting and the illegal excavation of Aboriginal artifacts from its original situation (buried in the ground) for private collector sale. Boo.
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