Hello, Montana. Nice to meet you.

Waking up in Dubois, Wyoming.

This week, we left Colorado. We headed north: through dusty Wyoming, past the sharp-teeth of the Tetons, across the plains of Idaho, and into the dark mountains of Montana.

We drove from Boulder, Colorado up to Dubois, Wyoming in a day. Dubois is a dusty little town just south of the Tetons, where saloons glow warm at night and where tumbleweeds legitimately blow across the road.

We slept off the side of a backcountry road in Dubois. The air was warm, dry, the opposite of the Rockies. I woke up feeling like the desert, the same dry-air dry-lipped peace that I feel in the Sahara. It’s amazing how you can jump climates in a day’s drive.

The Tetons

On our way up to Montana, we swung through the western edge of Grand Teton National park. It was an early morning drive, fueled with coffee from Dubois. I was still wearing my pajamas, and the windows were cracked. We broke the normal “morning silence” ritual (I’m not even close to being a morning person) and rocked out to some Radical Face–and then, somewhere in the middle of the album, the Tetons came into view. They shoot up from the earth like spikes, majestic, out of nowhere. They make you whisper “wow” out loud.

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, Emigrant, Montana

A friend from my hometown, Jon Herman, works at a guest ranch buried deep in the mountain woods of southwest Montana. He invited Moisés and me to come stay a night with him at the ranch–and for lack of a better description, it felt like being in a western movie. We were there on a Thursday…and at Mountain Sky, Thursday= Dance Night. This means that everyone–the guests, the staff, everyone–shows up sporting plaid shirts, giant belt buckles, and good vibes. …and then, the dancing begins. Cowboy boots stomp and skirts swirl across the wooden floor. A live band plays old country songs; the fiddle player is sawing so hard at the strings that rosin dust floats around the bow. At one point–between the music and the whooping and the downright country vibes–Moisés laughed out loud: “well, we wanted Montana, right?”

Coffee in one hand. Camera in the other. Dubois, Wyoming.

I am continually and consistently surprised by the diversity of the nature—and diversity of the culture—that you can find throughout the U.S. I have a friend who used to give me a hard time for jumping around the globe, but failing to include the U.S. in the list of landing locations. He was right. There really is so much to discover—everywhere in the world, of course—but especially here. There’s something beautiful about being surprised in a place that you thought you’d figured out.

Big Sky, Montana

I’m into it. I’m super, super into it. Hello, Montana. Nice to meet you.

Part 3 of a 6 part series