Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lawyers, Bears and Casinos

Montana has a lot of things to offer but from what I can tell, it mostly has lawyers, bears and casinos.

1. Bears. I spend a good amount of time in the wilderness and I'm not particularly spooked by the idea of an encounter with a wild animal. It's part of the reason I walk in the woods. I have been camped 100 yards from hunting lions, crossed paths with angry elephants and water buffalo, dived with sharks, swam with crocodiles, stepped on rattlesnakes and even run into the occasional bear. But after a week in Montana they had me so edgy about bears that I was afraid to go to the bathroom without a can of bear spray for fear that some bear would swim up the sewer and bite me on the ass. Here's a typical conversation in Montana. "Good morning, how are you?" "Fine. Have you got your bear spray?" Every conversation we had eventually worked its way around to the other person asking if you had bear spray, wanted bear spray or knew where to buy bear spray. Every sign I looked at had some mention of bears, bear attacks, how to repel bears or where bears like to hang out. The only time I recall someone not mentioning the danger of bears was the ranger who asked if we had anything orange to wear. "For the bears," I asked. "No for the bow hunters."

2. Lawyers. They say people in California are litigious but, believe me, Californians have got nothing on the Montana folk. From the amount of lawyers and law offices we saw in tiny Whitefish, Montana people must be suing each other for entertainment. And by the way why is it called Attorney at Law. Is there something else you can be an Attorney of?

3. Casinos. The only thing you'll find more of than bears and lawyers in Montana is casinos. I saw a graph the said that Montana had more casinos per capita than any other state in the US. I wouldn't doubt it for an instant. It seems like every business in Montana is part casino. The Coffee Shack and Casino. Superior Car Wash and Casino. Dr Adams Proctologist and Casino (this one made sense actually) The Dress Barn and Casino. I went into the bathroom at a mini mart outside Kalispell and the urinal claimed to have the best payouts in Montana.

Now it seems to me that the number of casinos in a place is usually indicative of the number of losers, idiots and assholes there as well. But that's not the case in Montana. Far from it. In fact, the people in Montana are incredible. Probably the most sincerely nice people I've run into anywhere. It was impossible to find an asshole anywhere in the entire state.

I guess they're all at the casinos, in court or the bears ate them.

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