The Treasure State (AKA the Social Distance State)

Montana – The Treasure State (AKA The Social Distance State)

With our doors closed now at least through April 24th, it would be a gross understatement to say that life during a global pandemic has taken some getting used to.

Like most small business owners, I have been immersed in the seemingly ever-evolving provisions and procedures of seeking assistance through what will undoubtedly be the biggest financial and economic challenge of my lifetime.

Like all of those who have had their lives and livelihoods put on hold by Covid-19, I spend my days contemplating what the future might hold while ingesting a steady diet of webinars, zoom meetings and phone calls…what our life has become during the pandemic.

I’ve spent some time at the shop but there hasn’t been much to do there that can’t be done from home so why burn the gas to get there? There’s plenty of yard work to be done both at the shop and at home but spring snows have interrupted those endeavors and while it definitely feels and looks like spring today we will be under a winter storm warning starting tomorrow night and will likely see several inches of new snow and the return of single-digit temps on Saturday night.

I’ve spent plenty of time on the couch. Too much television, too much beer, too much junk food. And while I have done some hiking near my home, I’ve not been nearly active enough for my liking.

It was considering these circumstances that I decided Sunday night that I would spend as much time as possible on the water this week. Mind you drift boat fishing is out (unless you are with members of your household), so I decided it was a good time to go solo and visit a few of my favorite walk-wade spots, some close to home, some not so much.

My routine this week has been to spend the mornings answering emails and doing whatever business can be done followed by late morning drives to unspecified locations and afternoons spent standing in moving water doing what brought me here in the first place. It didn’t take long for me to conclude that there is no place in the world I would rather be during these times of social distancing than in the wide-open spaces and secret corners of Montana.

Spring streamer fishing is among my favorites and these last few days did not disappoint. Plenty of fish to hand, none of which were record breakers, but all of which were the perfect dose of euphoria, making even better these great escapes.

Empty roads, sprawling landscapes of mountains and valleys and forests and miles of magical water with nary a soul in sight. Four rivers over three days and I encountered no one which kind of surprised me seeing that everyone is trapped at home these days with nothing to do. But what a blessing. What a blessing to live in a place where we can always go out and do our thing and maintain social distance, sometimes to the extreme if we choose. I can not imagine what it’s like to live in a heavily populated area with nowhere to escape to and just to address the issue, I have heard plenty of people making the point that this isn’t a vacation, that you’re supposed to stay home but in Montana I would disagree.

Here we can cover miles of uninhabited space in a day, visiting the places we love, doing the things we want to do while not exposing ourselves or being exposed to anyone.

So, take that Coronavirus. You can disrupt our world. You can destroy our economy, but you cannot take this from me! Amid the scariest, most unprecedented thing I’ve seen in my lifetime I will continue to do what I love in the places that stir my soul.

That being said, as much as I love it, spending my days fishing does not pay the bills. So while I feel blessed beyond measure to live in this place and to be able to social distance in this way, like everyone else, I am ready to go back to work.