“Ever Been to Montana?”

Glacier National Park. Go there soon.

Glacier National Park. Go there soon.

That was our pick-up line, if you could even call it that.

Two summers ago my friends Devin and Dan and I set out on an epic road trip from Iowa to the Badlands to the Black Hills and, finally, to Glacier National Park in Montana. My first real taste of a seriously maniacal road trip; probably the same for them.

My friends and I as a group are generally odd. Not odd like “I wonder why Johnny has been putting on eyeliner lately.”, but “I can’t believe Johnny said that in front of Grandma!” It’s not often that this many head trauma babies get together and whoop it up later in life, but I suppose we’re lucky. What I’m trying to get across here is this general haze of absurdity that emanates whenever we get together in groups of two or more. Anyhow…

The summit of Oberlin Peak is conquered.

The summit of Oberlin Peak is conquered.

We made up a lot of serious dumb shit on that trip, most of which has been canonized into our general vernacular. “Ever been to Montana?” was probably the very first thing that stuck on that particular expedition. We decided very early on that if we ever ran into an attractive young lady that we would sidle up to her, play it cool and then, with a half-hearted sideways glance ask “Ever been to Montana?” The scenario played constantly in our minds and would obviously work like Everclear every time.

We weren’t entirely serious. Or, at least most of us weren’t. For some reason this oh so suave, fool proof pick-up line wasn’t altered at all when we crossed within the boarders of Montana.


Was the pick-up line tested? Not in the real world. Despite the fact that any unsuccessful attempt at romance via this pick-up line would only haunt us for an extremely short period of time, we just couldn’t get the mental bone up hard enough to try it out.

There are two doe eyed female encounters that I remember specifically on the trip.

For some reason, from mile one on this trip, it was decided that I was the guy who’d hit on/score with all the ladies. Particularly odd seeing as Dan, at the time, was the only one of us not attached to a long-term girlfriend. I believe I argued this point at least twice on the trip to no avail.

Both of these unlucky ladies we ran into in the Many Glacier area of the park, an area famous for both its beauty and its comparatively larger grizzly bear population. Coincidence?

The first girl made her appearance on the first day we drove out to Many Glacier. We had just had a phenomenal, cliche life moment following an ice blue raging river while listening to Dark Side of the Moon and were pulling into the parking lot of the Many Glacier Hotel where we were hoping to catch breakfast.

Many Glacier Hotel.

Many Glacier Hotel.

I remember pulling the car into the lot, admiring the Hotel on the passenger side, scanning for parking lot bears and then, finally, looking out the driver’s side window of the car. My eyes followed a cement stairway up to an iconic image of a beautiful creature. I must have made a face worthy of the moment’s stupification because she looked back at me, smiled and laughed. And when she smiled, no shit, the area immediately around her head became brighter. There was absolute silence in the car for a few minutes and I knew that they had seen it, too. One of us, or all of us, followed her with our eyes to the door into the hotel. She was some kind of holy incarnation of a pre-alcoholism Kirsten Dunst.

I don’t remember all of what was said, but here’s what I do remember:

Adam slowly pulls towards an empty parking space, eyes wide, mouth agape with a nearly silent “WOW.”

“Oh man, dude, did you see that? Did you see her?”

“Uh-huh.” (Eyes widened, slow vocal delivery for effect)

“Man, you gotta hit on her, dude.”

What? Me? Why me?

“Don’t question it, just go with it.”

Well, how in hell do you argue with that?

After some degree of creeper sleuth work we decided we’d probably run into her in the restaurant area of the Hotel. Perfect, we came here for food anyhow.

We were greeted by a young, brown haired waiter. Damn. He seated us in the corner of the room near a large picture window with a fantastic vista.

“Your server will be with you shortly.” Score.

And then she approached us and the pressure was on. It was time to man up and do what needed to be done. The delusional sexual tension in the room was suffocating. But when she got to the table everything went wrong. I mean everything. Not only did I completely botch every bit of the advance by admitting that we were the guys who nearly ran into a parked Maxima staring at her in the parking lot, but I think in an effort at self depreciating humor I mentioned the word “creepy” or the phrase “creepy guys” at least twice. And, of course, that just happened to be the truth. She also didn’t live up to the holy parking lot vision that should have been left alone. She looked more like a slightly puffy D’arcy Wretsky than my glorious vision of blond perfection. But she was from Norway and she had an accent. The rest of our interactions with her were brief and awkward. That was that.

Dan contemplates suicide at Ptarmagin falls.

Dan contemplates suicide at Ptarmagin falls.

I was crushed. Absolutely crushed. It wasn’t because I had been heartbroken at second sight. It wasn’t because I had savagely fucked up the possibility of some shimmering, paranormal, nymphet summer fling, it was because I had fucked up the one thing that my friends were counting on me to do.

OK. It wasn’t because I let the boys down, it was the principle of the thing. This thing that was trumped up ridiculous in jest before we even knew it existed. This thing that for one absurd second had seemed so damn important.

I was hard on myself the entire day. I even took some time to write about my monumental, hair pulling disappointment in detail in my trip journal (which was inked out when I realized the monumental absurdity of this scenario two days later). That particular day we hiked six miles round trip to Iceberg Lake, a place disappointingly devoid of its namesake. Three icy cold dips into the just above freezing lake didn’t wash the shame off.

A swim in iceberg lake.

A swim in iceberg lake.

The hike back sucked hard, as hikes back are wont to do. About a half mile before we got to the car we encountered a middle aged couple and a twenty-something guy all chatting to each other on trail. Hiking in front of them, alone, was a beautiful girl with long strawberry blonde hair (which is my hair color when the sun doesn’t bleach it out). I knew I had to redeem myself. When I went to pass her on the trail I turned to her and said “You have beautiful hair.”

“Wow, thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” And I pulled off my cabby hat to reveal my bleached out blonde hair, which would have been strawberry blonde had I not been out in the sun all summer. I didn’t realize the blunder in this move until I looked in the car’s review mirror. This time, though, there was laughter. The shame of the earlier screw up melted away because, right after I commented on this girl’s hair the twenty-something guy from behind her (her boyfriend) went up and held her hand. A minor success, the boyfriend was threatened.

Devin, Dan and I at our campsite in Two Medicine on the last day in GNP.

Devin, Dan and I at our campsite in Two Medicine on the last day in GNP.


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10 2009

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