Once the woman finished her anecdote about bear shit and the obligatory bear shitting in the woods joke, an elderly man in a bright red hat with long white hair (who had been staring at me for hours) finally saw fit to ask a question. That question was: “Is that Yellowstone?”
My brain said, “It’s Glacier National Park” and then followed with “that’s too much work” and so I had no choice but to answer: “Okay.”
“Maybe Middlefort or Middle Fork River?” he pressed. Wait, does that mean he thinks the river is Yellowstone and not the park, or are there two places with the same name?
I try to formulate a word but my chin just rotates in a circle, possibly off my face, and I think about reasons to cry. Some alert young man in the official outfit of snowboarders everywhere explained that the river branches from Yellowstone and runs into Coochie River. (Note to reader: in other circumstances I might see fit to harness the powers of the Google and learn what the proper river names were, but for the sake of this story I think we should all remain on the same confused, sleep-deprived, and desperate level. Remember: there is none of the internets!)
It seemed like I should compliment this young fellow for his knowledge, and so I said, “You know Geography!” Then I decided I shouldn’t talk anymore.
Still, Montana: giant trees and snow and great gorgeous mountain tops. The sky filled with hawks and eagles and blue. Great green stained rivers running a track that defies time. The land seemed strong in a way it isn’t in most other places in America, like it knows it’s going to outlast you and won’t kneel to the demands of industry. If it needs to, it will make the bear shit smell permanent to keep you at bay.
Throughout the train people kept telling me it’s going to get boring eventually, but I couldn’t hear it. Montana let us through, but just barely, and only because we kept to our track even more tightly than the river.