Thoughts On The Montana Thing

Although I specifically asked for people not to comment on the land / house choices in this post, some people still did;  but then again, these are my beloved Readers [sigh]  who take orders from no man, and color over the lines whenever it suits.

Anyway:  the choice of land.  I wouldn’t want to live in the total boonies (I’d have picked Alaska, then), hence my choice of location.  The thought of being trapped in the house because of some sudden and massive snowstorm when I need to get my prescription filled at the drugstore does not not appeal to me.  So I’d prefer to live close-ish to a decent-sized town with at least some pretensions of sophistication because my idea of fine dining is not Applebee, and I’d like the local food stores to carry more than canned food and Kraft cheese.  It’s been a while since I was in Missoula and despite the presence of Lefties, hippies and suchlike filth, I enjoyed my time there.  (There’s no Dunkin, but that’s why online purchasing was invented and anyway, every time I go into a DD, I walk out with a dozen donuts and my doctor doesn’t support that action.)

160 acres, while sniffed at by some, would suit me because it can accommodate a 100-yard range without terrifying the neighbors.  Also, it’s a manageable size because I could put up signs on every other tree on the property line saying things like, “If you hunt past this point, you will become the prey.  Ask owner for details.”

I chose a log cabin because New Wife has always wanted to live in one.  I know about the upkeep issues, but I’d pay someone to take care of it.  As for the floor plan:  I’d use the walk-out basement for manly pursuits like cleaning guns and playing snooker.  The size works for the two of us, and it’s easier to heat or cool a smaller space.  My days of living in a 4,000-sq.ft. house are over.

I didn’t even mention my choice of truck because that would have given rise to a tributary of endless argument;  but here we are, so here we go:


Yes, Missoula has both a Mercedes and Toyota dealership for servicing and repairs, if needed.  I’d want a serious 4×4 in case of inclement driving conditions, and nobody has ever said the G550 doesn’t have the necessary oomph.  And the Toyota Tacoma/Hi-Lux is the pickup choice of revolutionaries all over the world, so ’nuff said.

At least nobody sniffed at my choice of guns (see below for the reminder).

Rifle #1:  Taurus Mod 62M (.22 Mag)

Rifle #2:  Browning Buck Mark (.22 LR)
…because the next choice is:

Handgun #1:  Browning Buck Mark (.22 LR)

Handgun #2:  Ruger Single-Six (.22 LR/Mag)

Handgun #3:  Ruger Super Blackhawk (.44 Mag) — for those close encounters of the dangerous kind

Handgun #4:  1911 (.45 ACP) — for those occasional shopping trips to town

Handgun #5:  Uberti 1875 Outlaw (.45 Colt) — because cowboy

Handgun #6:  S&W Mod 65 (.357 Mag) — bedside gun

Rifle #3:  Mauser Mod 12 (6.5x55mm) — hunting in open country

Rifle #4:  Marlin 1895 (.45-70 Govt) — because bears

Rifle #5:  Winchester 94 (.30-30) — hunting in the deep woods

Rifle #6:  AK-47 (7.62x39mm) — because every home should have one, even in the boonies

Rifle #7:  CZ 550 Lux (.300 Win Mag) — to reach out and touch someone/thing

Rifle #8:  M1 Carbine — because you need to have some fun, too

Rifle #9:  Cooper Mod 21 (.223 Rem) — for varminting past 75 yards

Rifle #10:  Taurus/Winchester Mod 63 (.22 LR) — because I’m sentimental

The last two long guns in the safe are shotguns:

#11:  Mossberg 500 (12ga) — for more close encounters of the dangerous kind (and I wouldn’t keep it in the safe, either)

#12:  CZ Bobwhite (20ga)


  1. Toyota Tacoma is the best truck, hands down. You have that correct Mr Kim.

    I don’t live in the boonies, however I appreciate Toyota Quality. I drive a Toyota RAV4.

    For Trucks, the Tacoma is king. That Mercedes is nice… But I prefer my vehicles to be of the Japanese manufacture.

    I know you are a 1911 Buff and that you also like your Springfield 1911- while I more like a Sig DA / SA model (P series)… but the 1911’s are nice. Do you like the Springfield 1911 RONIN model? That thing sure does look nice! Any thoughts?

  2. If you long for a log cabin, perhaps you could look into the concrete versions. The same rustic look only much more temp stable and, more importantly, fireproof.

  3. I had the whole dream retirement locked in with a hilltop home in Patagonia, Arizona. Close enough to Nogales, Tucson and two military bases to give me the solitude and access to services I need. I had 39 acres of land bordering 1.6 million acres of National Forests. Then the border blew up and the property values dropped 60% in one year. All my snowbird renters got scared off by the constant border violence and predation that comes with no law enforcement, so they quit coming. I took the New Wife out there in 2020 and she said NFW. So I sold it.

    Now I’m stuck in the DC suburbs until I drop. My wife is 15 years younger than I am, which is all great until you factor in her need to work another 15+ years. I fucking hate living here with no access to a decent range and the isolation I crave. Fuck me. Nothing is more satisfying than a mag dump in the middle of nowhere.

    1. Top cat – Try West Virginia. Just a couple of hours away and while property in the eastern mountains is going up, you can probably find something. A childhood friend who is in DC after a lifetime of military service just bought some acreage and is very happy. A friend of his, also career military has an isolated camp in the eastern panhandle he’s also happy with.

  4. Western Montana, in the Flathead, Bitterroot or perhaps Paradise Valleys…

    The Flathead valley (Kalispell, Whitefish, Polson) have a large assortment of good restaurants and stores…the Bitterroot has Missoula, which can be an hour or two drive away.

    Unfortunately for newcomers, the land prices are totally insane…

    There is a YT channel of a realtor in Whitefish you might find helpful – Living in Montana

  5. There’s just one thing I’d like to add to that ~1800′ for a Cessna 150: just in case the need arises.

      1. I’m not going to beat my chest (and my memory ain’t what it used to be), but somehow in the dim recesses of that hard disc up top, I recall taking a 150 off a grass field in under 800′ and pancaking in over an obstacle was way shorter. Then again, this was quite some time ago when I was young and immortal, but I can’t recall 3000′.

        1. Main issue with a Cessna 150 is lack of horsepower, cabin size, and altitude.

          Increasing altitude means less engine horsepower, and increasing density altitude. Which means longer takeoff runs.
          A stock C-150 is fine for one person, some luggage, and a full bag of gas at sea level.
          But go to 5000′ MSL(Denver, CO), and things change a bit. Still doable on a 3000 grass strip, but less margin for error. Put 2 folks onboard, and now it’s a problem.
          And God forbid you try to take off in Leadville, CO(10,000MSL) with 2 people onboard and full tanks. You ain’t gonna make it. Or if you do, your climb rate will be so slight as to be hazardous.

          1. I got my SEL in ’66 renting a 150 at $5 wet/hr. out of GFK (instructors also $5 per) and spent most of my weekends flying RON all over the northern states (ND, SD, MN, MT, WY, CO) landing at small paved and unpaved strips. It got interesting at times, but I guess I was too young and too stupid to become anxious; wish I could find my old log book to show you. Then I went back to NYC where costs were 4-5x what I paid in ND.
            Have to say, though, I found the 150 a trustworthy, uncomplaining little beast in all conditions that I could land (and takeoff from) just about anywhere without breaking a sweat.

  6. Your vehicle choices are great. The Mercedes for the wife, the Toy for you. A neighbor has a Tundra and having examined it closely I can tell you Toyota has it’s finger on the pulse of what makes a truck work.

    The guns. As long as you have a few that will deter a bear or cougar from coming over the porch railing you’ll be good. A scattergun for putting pheasants on the table. A decent semiauto pistol for EDC would be good as well. You can never have enough.

    Regarding the house, the average person doesn’t know what they’re looking at when it comes to floor plans and exterior elevations. A competent designer (like me!) could meet with you in the place you live now and compare the various room sizes in the floor plan with those in your current digs so that you could make an educated assessment in sizes and orientation. Though the plans do not show a basement I would highly advise it, though, as you get older stairs may be difficult to deal with. Lastly, on this subject, traffic patterns is something you never hear about when discussing homes. Look at the living room in that plan. Right in the middle of the living room is a structural column and there are absolutely no walls to facilitate furniture placement. Clearly, the sofa would be in the middle of the room and floor electrical outlets would be required for lighting. And on and on. Remember, wherever a door is located (3 doors in the living room) foot traffic is located and thus no furniture can be placed there. The exterior elevation looks attractive, but the useability of the floor plans must work first, then, attractive exterior elevations can be designed to pull it all together.

    As an architect about the same age as you, I spend a fair amount of time every dam day fantasizing about this very subject matter. My wife and I will probably never get out of the gate though because of that enormous sum for the land alone which is rising drastically every day.

  7. Kim:

    My wife and I made our escape from the Soviet Socialist State of MN a few years ago, moving to a small town in northwestern Wyoming. I gotta tell you, the Big Wonderful (Wyoming) is a much better place to live than MT, if for nothing else, the complete and utter lack of an income tax.

    But I’ll challenge your selection of the sorta-small Tacoma over a full-size Tundra based on my personal experience. I had a (hawk, spit) 2000 Fix Or Repair Daily Ranger, 4WD, that was one of the worst vehicles I’ve ever owned. That bloody-be-damned thing left me on the side of the road (once with a harvested whitetail in the back) so many times I lost track. I finally gave up and traded it for a brand-new 2010 Tundra, a bottom-of-the-line fleet model, with the small 4.6L engine and 4WD.

    I got better gas mileage (25 MPG on the highway) and the advantage of a full-size bed with a 4-door cab and back seats that were actually comfortable for an adult. In the ten years I owned it I never did anything other than maintenance…absolutely dog-reliable.

    It was totaled here in WY while parked on my own property when a drunk doing 50 MPH down our 25 MPH street swerved off the road, across the ditch, through the boulder edging of the driveway, and smacked into the back of the truck hard enough to punt it 20 feet forward into a pine tree. The drunk (little girl, 17) then backed away and tried to drive away from the scene, only to have her truck crap out 200 yards down the road.

    With what did I replace it? A 2020 Tundra, 4-door, 4WD as close as I could find to the 2010 in configuration. It’s got a lot more electronic giz-widgets than I’d like but as close to a base model as could be found. I salvaged the cross-bed toolbox from the old Tundra and absolutely LOVE the new one.

    You’d never regret going to the full-size pickup over the smaller one. There’s essentially no difference in fuel consumption, and the added comfort of a full-size cab is more important for bigger people than it is for me (I’m only 5’7″). But the biggest thing (so to speak) is the size of the bed. I’m able to haul a 1/2-yard of crushed limestone from the local garden center just by having them dump a scoop-and-a-half from their Bobcat into the bed (plastic liner). And when I put the tailgate down our kayaks slide right in side by side and need only a single cargo strap to secure it when we hit the reservoirs.

    1. The Montana/Wyoming/Idaho tax situation is evergreen for discussion. Sure, no income tax in Wyoming, but no sales tax in Montana makes up for it. Montana also has (at least in the western part of the state) better access to medical care than most of Wyoming, but land costs in Wyoming are less. A lot less water in Wyoming, too.. Idaho has lower land costs than Montana, but has both sales and state taxes.

  8. Kim:

    One other comment about where we chose to live in our small WY town. I grew up alternating between the City and Country, with summers in the relative freedom of the latter. My wife has always been a City mouse, while I’m comfortable either way.

    When we were looking for a house here, we had choices between being in town and outside of town. The house we chose is in town, but right at the edge of the city limits (if you walk across the alley you can throw a rock to “outside of town”). The main reason was to have city water and city sewer, rather than a well and septic system. Wells here in WY tend to be either shallow with crappy (caustic) water, or very deep (read, expensive) with good water. Depending on where you build, even hitting water can sometimes be difficult. Natural gas via pipeline rather than propane via tank; it’s about half the price and our heat and hot water are gas-fired.

    We just installed a wood stove for entertainment as well as back-up heat and cooking. I’ve got a generator for just-in-case, and plan on putting in a big propane tank with a whole-house generator in the near future. We’ve got raw water for irrigation (the only way to keep anything green around here is to pour water on it) and as an emergency back-up water supply (it would need to be filtered/treated, but we can do that).

    We’ve got the city of Billings just a couple of hours away for big-box shopping, but there are several grocery stores here in town that have everything we need (except for Cotswald cheese; nobody carries it here). The health care here in town is excellent and that was a major deciding factor in moving here, since we both have some problems that need specialists. For anything medically major there’s the big city just 2 hours away.

    We’ve got wonderful neighbors, the kind of people who invite you to go shooting out on the BLM lands at impromptu ranges. In fact, our next-door neighbors had us and another neighbor couple over for a pot-luck Thanksgiving dinner, since none of us had kids for the holidays.

    We have no regrets about moving here, and are looking forward to making this house our home.

  9. Kim,
    I don’t think the 160 Acres for a 100yard range would keep neighbors away. I think it might encourage folks to come over with a casserole, lemonade and join the fun.

    great choices on trucks!! that Merc takes all the allure of the Land Rover and puts it into an over engineered reliable package at an un-godly price tag. If I suddenly came into a ridiculous amount of money I’d go with that Merc or a Toyota Land Cruiser. I’m on my third Tacoma and like them alot although I’d gladly trade my current Taco for my 2002 V6 4wd extended cab. I’ll take that ’02’s shortcomings over the gizmos and doo dads in my 2019.

    The browning pisol/rifle is the only firearm on your list I thought was odd.

    I agree with you about location. I spent 18months in VT and I was in a ski town. Everything was expensive and choices of restaurants were slim. I recently visited the area and some of the restaurants are gone a few new ones opened up but not much else has changed.

    The things I’d like in a town are a few good restaurants with one or two chain restaurants like Chik fil A or Five Guys for a quick fix of bad for you food. I’d like a good used bookstore that also sells used DVDs and music. A good outdoor store to support the 2A addictions, hiking, kayaking, camping gear. A couple of good bars with pool tables, good music, dart boards and great libation. Oh and a minor league baseball team.


    PS I suppose I’d also need a good local hospital and a good vet in the area staffed by people who got sick of urban and suburban life as well and moved to the sticks.

    1. “The browning pistol/rifle is the only firearm on your list I thought was odd.”

      Shares mags with the pistol, and has the best out-of-the-box trigger of any gun I’ve ever fired.

  10. “I’d prefer to live close-ish to a decent-sized town with at least some pretensions of sophistication because my idea of fine dining is not Applebee, and I’d like the local food stores to carry more than canned food and Kraft cheese.”

    Well then, you want to live in the Dry Creek Valley just NW of Boise. Which is where you would have spent the night on your way to Boomershoot had your trip not been cancelled. Come check it out.

Comments are closed.