It is no secret that the majority of the University of Montana student body is made up of Montana born and raised students (we’re talking 74% in-state). It is also no secret that there are “Keep California Out!” signs on everyone’s lawn (not really).
“Oh where are you from?” – Seemingly interested older Montanan
“Sacramento, California!” – Me
“…I’m sorry…” – Now uninterested and bitter older Montanan
“I’m not 🙂 Thanks for having me!” – Smiling me
Take a minute to listen up. I may not speak on behalf of the rest of the Californians in Montana, but I have a perspective I’d love to share. The second I stepped on University of Montana’s campus I knew that it could be my home away from home. The city of Missoula, hell the state of Montana, felt like hugging someone that you haven’t seen in years. I’ve been here for 4 very short years and no, I don’t plan on staying, but yes I will be back to visit. The reason being that it offered the experience of a lifetime for this particular time in my life.
For anyone who’s interested, University of Montana allowed me to step away from most everything I knew in Sacramento (yes I had seen snow, every year in Tahoe minus the recent winters). I was able to clearly establish my values as a young adult, assess the type of future I wanted, and walk away with some of the best friendships I will have for a lifetime.
You see, us Northern Californians appreciate tall trees, snowcapped mountains, cleaning our campsites and wandering to find that adventure just doesn’t end. I can single-handedly agree that California has some extreme undesirables. But so does Montana (hello Meth Capital), so does Colorado, so does New York, and Wyoming and every other state you can name. How do you think Arizona feels hosting all the frail Montana old-timers looking for warm retirement? Probably a mix of “stay in your own state” and “please contribute to our economy; look we have handicap approved EVERYTHING!”
I’ll leave on this note. The amount of times that people think that I’m a Montanan prior to asking is remarkable. Let’s just say I’ve had to convince just about everyone I meet with a valid California drivers license. My experience with those who are excited to have me is what makes Montana “the last best place”. The nay-sayers couldn’t keep me out if they tried.
By: Lia Sbisa, proud Sacramento Native and Montana Visitor
This past summer my mind was blown as I was introduced to Montana in a completely foreign way. Growing up a Montana local in the small town of Anaconda, I am no stranger to the multitude of activities Montana has to offer.
I had heard of this prestigious and almost fictional resort where people who want to enjoy the ‘Montana Experience’ can come and take part in a whole range of activities from going on a cattle drive to white water rafting. This place is called Paws Up Resort.
Paws Up resort is located in Greenough, Montana. This resort is not your typical getaway, five star service is delivered on 37,000 acres of Montana countryside. The famous Blackfoot River runs through the middle of the property and the resort captures all of what Montana has to offer.
The ‘Tank & Trough’ at Paws Up Resort.
Along with cattle drives and the white water rafting activity mentioned above, the resort also offers guided ATV rides, horseback trail rides, repelling, fly fishing trips, covered wagon rides, sporting clays, paint ball, archery, mountain biking, and hot air balloon rides. Guests are also able to spend time on Seeley Lake at a private lake house with the ability to rent powerboats and personal watercrafts.
The location that guests lay their head is also not the typical hotel room or even luxury suit. There are many different log homes located throughout the property that include a hot tub on the deck and a complementary vehicle to travel around the property. Some log homes also have a tent included.
A popular option for guests is camping alongside the Blackfoot river. Any outdoor enthusiast who has explored Montana’s beautiful backcountry can attest to the relief once the tents have been constructed and camp has been made. One of the most popular amenities at Paws Up is the option to camp glamorously, or Glamp. Paws Up coined and pioneered the glamorous camping experience.
Glamping threw everything I knew about backpacking and camping into a blender, added some ice, tequila, fresh squeezed lime, Cointreau, Damiana, and blended that shit into the best margarita possible. A camp butler then served that margarita in a salted glass to a guest on a leather couch, sitting by a fireplace overlooking the Blackfoot River. This act of Glamping astounded me every time I walked into the camp pavilion.
This is one of five camp pavilions associated with the Glamping tents.
The tents are a whole different story. Each pavilion is home base for six different wall tents, a camp butler to assist guests, as well as a private chef for breakfast and dinner. Each insulated wall tent is complete with electricity, running water, a full sized bed, sometimes bunkbeds for the children, heated blankets, heating/cooling unit, tiled bathroom, walk-in glass shower and the occasional hot tub on the deck. One of the most known and favorited tents is the ‘Honeymoon Tent’ at Cliffside Camp. This tent is perched on a cliff and has a copper tub that overlooks the Blackfoot River.
As you can see, this is not the normal camping experience that a majority of people are accustomed to. A bell staff is on call for all Glampers for rides to and from all activities. Fresh linens are supplied daily, a fully stocked fridge awaits at the pavilion and a campfire awaits marshmallows.
The Wealthy and the Famous
Throughout my employment at the resort I was a bellman for a short period then an activity guide for the remainder of the summer. Paws Up stays fairly full throughout the busy months- June, July, August, and attracts a large range of customers. As you could conclude from the lavish amenities, the price tag to put your family up at the resort in Montana is far from comparable to a night at the Days Inn. This resort caters to a clientele that is very well off financially. One large car company had a week long demo at the resort debuting their new electric sports car. Other big corporations hold massive company retreats inviting management to come and enjoy what MT has to offer.
Included with the wealthy, is the famous. Due to non-disclosure agreements and not being able to gain permission from publicists I cannot say exactly who I interacted with so aliases will be provided.
Many of the famous travel for pleasure just as everyone else does. Movie stars and even royalty enjoy the activities with their families and loved ones, and have a blast doing it. I had the pleasure of meeting a Princess from Saudi Arabia. Her group was a complete blast, I was the archery guide for her group one afternoon and the lake guide another day. During archery, everyone got their turn in learning how to use a compound bow. Everyone really starts to have a great time once they start hitting the targets with the arrows. The competition between family members ensued shortly after.
I also had the pleasure of meeting a guy that has starred in some great action movies. I’ll call him Tim, his publicist wouldn’t grant me permission to use his name. He was a great, down-to-earth guy who thankfully wasn’t as fierce as some of the roles he has played. Tim was there with his family and also had a great time with me on the archery course. His son really started to excel with the bow and Tim was a natural, hitting the vital area of the target multiple times.
In conclusion, I was glad to meet everyone I encountered throughout my employment, at Paws Up Resort. All the guests were enjoyable and a pleasure to guide and interact with, while the management and fellow employees made working there a very fun experience.