I saw this car parked like this this morning, here in Bozeman:


Now, in most towns, this would cause some consternation, but in Bozeman, that’s just the way that people park.

There are many things that we Pucketts love about Bozeman and the surrounding countryside, but it occurred to me this morning that the things that I don’t care for all have to do with lanes.

Parking lanes, driving lanes, swim lanes.

Parking here is strange; it truly seems to have nothing to do with the little lane markers on the pavement. It’s occurred to me that perhaps this was because there was often snow on the parking lots, so you couldn’t see the line markers. Now, obviously there isn’t always snow on the asphalt (in fact, the snow is mostly gone these days; it snows some every day or three, but it melts fast) but I thought that, perhaps, since they can’t count on seeing the lines, maybe they just ignore them.

My friend Scott says that no doubt there used to be plenty of parking in Bozeman, so folks simply assume that it’s okay to park any which way. And there may be something to that. This area has been growing very fast for quite some time, and the infrastructure may be having a difficult time keeping up – but let’s be plain; the infrastructure will NEVER “keep up” in terms of providing two parking spots for everybody πŸ™‚

There’s obviously nothing that can be done about this; it’s just one of the adjustments that I’ll have to make. Folks in the Bozone simply are not going to park inside the lines.

Driving lanes are a different problem, but perhaps a different manifestion of the same issue; folks in Big Sky country drive slower than anywhere else that I’ve ever lived. Coming west from town to our neighborhood, the last couple of miles are 55 MPH speed limit, with five lanes (counting the suicide lane in the middle). But I’ve already adjusted (mostly) to the fact that, when I’m coming home from the gym or church or meeting or pool (90% of my trips to town, easily, fall into those four categories) I’m not going to be going 55 MPH to my home. Folks simply don’t get too close to the speed limit; they seem to have an aversion to getting closer than 5 MPH to that number that’s posted on the sign.

The strangest thing about this is that this is one of the states that used to have “prima facie” speed limits – pretty much “anything went” on the highways as long as it was “reasonable and proper”. ( I sure do wish that I’d lived here, with my BMW Z3 or my Audi TT, when that was the case). But now that the speed limits are enforced as such, folks seem to be scared of getting too close to them.

Or maybe it’s another symptom of growth – folks here aren’t used to so many people on the roads, or so many buildings/homes/etc on the roadside, and so they slow down in self defense.

Or perhaps it’s simply that folks in Montana are not in a hurry, and don’t want you to be in a hurry, either. Maybe – just maybe – they are AGGRESSIVELY not in a hurry.

But it means that I have to drive slower – or not drive at all. It’s true that I don’t drive much these days – a tank of gas will last me a month – but I do drive OFTEN. So I get plenty of opportunities to practice acceptance.

Swim lanes are a different issue – but, again, it might be the problem with recent growth. But the ratio of lap swimmers to swim lanes in Southwest Montana is much worse than Utah or the East Bay in California. Those are the only places in which I’ve done much lap swimming, so I can’t compare to anywhere else. But in Utah, I seldom had to share a lane; when swimming in Pleasanton, I might have to share a lane, but it’s just two folks to a lane, so each person gets a side – but if I want to swim the 50 meter lengths at the Bozeman Swim Center, then I have to swim “circles”, which means that the swimmers are swimming down one side of the lane and up the other side – which means that they have to be swimming at similar speeds, or there is passing and being passed, which interferes with everyone’s pace and rest times.

This is the only “lane” situation that might improve, here in Big Sky Country; there is supposed to be a new high school being built out at our end of town, and also a new YMCA being built about 2 miles from here, as well; the YMCA won’t have a pool until the second phase, but it still means that there might be some relief in the next couple of years.

I just hope that, when they build those places, they put in plenty of parking.


  1. Beek said:

    My eyes must be failing, looks parked evenly between the curb on the left and the line in the right. ???

    • Beek – click on the photo. He’s right in the middle of TWO parking spots πŸ™‚ …that’s a Toyota Tundra. If he was actually in a single parking spot, it would be the Mother Of All Behemoth Parking Spots πŸ™‚

  2. Dave C said:

    My eyes are also failing — I had to magnify to 200% to see the faint line. In that case, the parking place to the left of the faint line looks too narrow to be a proper space, so maybe part of the reason the line is faint is because the lines were repainted in different places.

    • An interesting theory, Dr Couper – but, if the lines were repainted in different places, then where’s the new line?

  3. Dave C said:

    There is no new line to the left of the one to the car’s right — because there isn’t enough room for there to be two parking spaces there.

    • Dave, I see two cars parked in those two spaces all the time. I’ve been one of them.

      I don’t know what you’re talking about – but that car is taking up two parking spots.

      A Toyota Tundra is 80″ wide – that’s 6’8″ – a standard parking space. Those spaces are about 8′ wide – that’s why there’s so much room on both sides of the vehicle πŸ™‚

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