When you leave for the ski hill, you expect, after a little while, that you’ll be sitting on a chairlift, looking up the hill at the chair in front of you.
This…is not the chair in front of you:
This is a pickup truck pulling a trailer that is almost certainly full of snowmobiles. When you see this in front of you, it means that you aren’t at the ski hill yet – and you aren’t at the ski hill yet because you are behind a truck pulling a trailer full of snowmobiles.
It might not be a ‘bile trailer, though. It might be a Subaru, with all-wheel drive and snow tires, going 35 MPH up Gallatin Canyon because….because the driver is scared of driving in Gallatin Canyon. More than likely, though, it’s going to be a combination of several of the above, in a long line of traffic composed mostly of folks who want to go 60+ MPH in a 60 MPH highway, but can’t, because those “Slower Traffic Use Turnout” signs do not apply to the ‘bile puller or the scared Subaru.
(We know that the “Slower Traffic Use Turnout” signs do not apply to those drivers, because they drive right past dozens of them, oblivious to the fifteen cars behind them.)
This all tears me up inside, because I Made A Mistake – I did not do my due diligence before moving here. I sort of thought that, because the speed limits between Bozeman and Big Sky were 70 MPH on the flats and 60 in the canyon, that traffic would go 70 on the flats and 60 in the canyon. This should have given us about a 45 minute drive from our house to Madison Base Village, where our locker is.
But that’s not the case, and it’s “not the case” to the extent that the minimum drive time so far has been an hour, and it’s gone up to as long as 1:20 or so, depending on how scared the Subarus are.
So when I’m stuck in these long lines of vehicles going as slow as 35 MPH in the canyon, I start to stew, because it’s my fault that I’m driving this slowly, because I didn’t do my due diligence. And I picked the wrong town. Had I known that I’d be driving over an hour to the ski hill, I’d either have forced the issue and moved to Big Sky, or kept looking at Bend or Steamboat or the other options.
Now, it’s true that Bozeman has many other fine qualities – many of which we never really knew about, or appreciated, until we had already lived here a little while. I would have missed those, had we not moved here.
But that doesn’t help me at 35 MPH in a 60 MPH zone, when I should already be looking at the chair in front of me on Six-Shooter. It’s not just the time – it’s the awareness that it was my mistake. I can live with other folks’ mistakes much easier than I can with my own.
(N.B. – one mitigating factor would be that there are some passing zones; however, quite often, you can’t tell that it’s a passing zone because the paint in the middle of the road is covered by a thin layer of snow. And Ethel’s car is not performant enough to pass safely in some of these zones (to her way of thinking) and she won’t let me drive my Audi because she’s afraid. My mistakes and other folks’ fears are messing with my ski days).
If I had known about this beforehand, and had made a conscious decision that I was willing to trade the time on the highway for the benefits of Bozeman, I might have been able to live with it more easily. What sticks in my craw is the fact that I looked at Bozeman and looked at Big Sky and was so in love with each of them that I didn’t pay proper attention to what lay between them.
(N.B. – yes, I know that Bridger Bowl is much closer. But we can’t get a locker at Bridger Bowl until sometime in the 2020s, and Bridger Bowl is quite often very crowded. There has yet to be an issue with lift lines at Big Sky, and that’s skiing there over the Christmas holidays. I can stand driving slowly on the way to the hill better than I can endure standing in lift lines over and over again.)