02 March, 2008

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

The Half-Dipper will be broadcasting from the oddly-named town of Big Sky, in Montana, for the next few weeks.

We have brought tea aplenty - though it's nice to see that even the coffee that comes with the hotel apartment is at least fairly decent these days:

This is the first time that either my wife or I have been to the USA, and with a good conference taking place in the mountains, it felt like the right time (and perfect excuse) to see the country first-hand.

Big Sky is a rugged (if slightly well-kept) example of a town in a rugged state, and the people are equally rugged, which is a great point in its favour. During part of the 25-hour journey from England, we had the pleasure of conversation with a gently-spoken, retired marine drill-instructor, who really epitomised the good points of that character.

We don't meet a huge number of Americans in our daily lives - the kind we get in Oxford colleges doesn't really represent the best points of that nation's citizens. In Montana, the people are a bit different (in the right direction), and it's a wonderful thing to experience.

Against all the odds, the conference have been kind enough to put us in a room with a fine view:

Though the highest temperature is freezing-point, it's a good environment for getting cosy with some good tea:

What better way to thaw out after a cold day? Plus, it seems that Americans know how to brew a really good wheat beer...


speakfreely said...

Well, howdy and welcome! I laughed at the title you put on this entry, as I just came from reading an article pointing out that a full 1% of the population of our fair nation is incarcerated, a higher number than at any other time in history. Never been to Big Sky. Google earth shows it to be a ski area with pit mines off to the west, but I'm sure the conference will keep you away from anything unsightly.

Ok. I really don't mean to bum you out, especially as you've managed to get a good first impression of the USA. I work with a couple of Brits who are doing their darndest to stay here, so that's gotta mean something, I guess.

What beer is that you're drinking, might I ask?

David Lesseps said...

Montana? So close yet so far.
No chance you could swing a few thousand miles out of your way and head to SF?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Montana. I'm a friend of tea and just started reading your blog again after taking a year-long break from surfing the internet. I live in Missoula, just a few hours from Big Sky. How's the snow down there?

I see that you are well supplied with some of Stephane's tea. Should you need more, I'd be happy to share!

I assume thay you are going to visit the park. Butte is also worth a peek. Breakfast at the M&M, a beer at the Silver Dollar Bar and an afternoon strolling around Uptown can't be beat in terms of MT experiences. And there's the Berkeley Pit, if you appreciate such things. You are surrounded by some truly magnificent country.

I would enjoy meeting up somewhere if our schedules permit. If not, please enjoy your stay and if I can help you guys in any way, let me know.

Best Wishes,
Israel Tockman

Hobbes said...

Dear Carla,

I can easily imagine why the British folk you mentioned would want to stay here - we've already decided to try and return; it's exceedingly beautiful, and I love the people here. I've had good conversations with pretty much every stranger I've met here, from the ski-lift attendants to the executive director of a $35bn company.

The beer was something from the "Bozeman Brewing Company", named after the local large town/city where the airport resides. Good stuff. I've since had a delicious porter which would rival quite a lot of brews from back home.

Dear Dave,

I wish! California and Boston are the two areas we plan to visit in the future.

Dear Israel,

Thanks very much for reading, and for the great information. We've got plenty of spare days and your recommendations are very welcome - I'll look into them. I'm not sure of our schedule yet (the conference is a bit tricky in its planning), but I'll be sure to keep you posted - thanks for the kind offer. You've got a beautiful state here.

Toodlepip all,


speakfreely said...

Bozeman Brewery's web site shows that they only distribute locally. Darn. It means something for a Brit to like an American beer. I've had some decent brews from small-scale operations like that, it's just the ubiquitous ones that are lame.

Does your itinerary bring you anywhere near the East cost this trip?

小 約翰 said...

Enjoy your excursion to the Colonies (ops former) john

MarshalN said...

Hey, enjoy Montana, where total population, as I recently learned, does not exceed 1 million.

By the way, the little friend from Oxford arrived. Thanks! I still need to send you some tea.

Hobbes said...

Dear Carla,

It's good beer, and definitely justification to come to Montana! Sadly, we're flying straight home after our time here - we went for the simple approach of getting local return flight tickets. More adventurous next time!

Dear John,

Ah, the Colonies - not sure if Montana counts as that, but I can dream. :)

Dear MarshalN,

Glad to hear he arrived!



Unknown said...

Oh we make good beer in general. Come to San Diego and try an IPA better than anything you've had back home. You all get credit for inventing the style, but San Diego does it better :)

Joking aside, England is my favorite country for beer outside of the U.S.

Hobbes said...

Howdy, Dustin,

I love IPA, I'll remember the San Diego recommendation for the future, thanks! Isn't that the beer that was brewed in such a way as to make transport to colonies in India possible? Rather like Irish whiskey going to the USA, I imagine.

I'm always impressed to hear that Newcastle Brown Ale is so widely available in the States. It's quite hard-to-find in the UK, oddly enough. (Obviously it's not in the same league as the others we've been discussing, but it's a perennial favourite among Northern Englanders.)





Hobbes said...

Update: the beer from Bozeman is called "Bozone" - what an inspired name!

Mary R said...

Wow...I didn't know Montana was so scenic. It sort of gets a little flack from the rest of the nation for being so rural and remote. Sort of the place "where men are men and the sheep are nervous," if you catch my drift.

But if you ever wanted to see what America is like outside the bustle of New York, LA, and Chicago...I can't think of a better place to go.

Scotto said...

I don't think Tocqueville has to worry about his legacy being overtaken.... ;-)

More importantly, how was the Xizihao?