Big Times at the Big Sky Film Festival Part 1
The five planned days I spent in Missoula for the BSFF were incredible. A true experience filled with adventures climbing icy mountains and frozen phenomenon, desperate confusion trying to locate a person of interest with a racing clock ticking towards the deadline, excitement wandering the streets of a new place meeting new people, and just a touch of some of the finer things in life. It was an unforgettable journey nestled in a Rocky Mountain valley.
The events that unfolded in the two extra days that followed, however, is where the true story begins. After a devastating blizzard wrecked havoc in Colorado, all flights connecting in Denver were canceled, and I had the misfortune (fortune) of spending another two days in Missoula full of uncertainty, marihuana, and British People. The entire trip deserves nothing less than a book to document the story to keep it safe from my short term memory. For now, the tumblr will have to suffice.
I landed in Missoula International Airport with my backpack, my camera and nothing much more. The Festival had comped me two nights at a local hotel, which would have been great if those comped nights hadn’t of been booked for the days prior to my arrival, so I packed with my potential homelessness in mind. My pack included only what I needed: a few days worth of cloths, some snacky bars and trail mix, The Lucifer Effect for down time, a first aid kit, toiletries, and two fleece blankets in case I had to truly experience the streets if it ultimately came down to it. With my minimalist budget to match my minimalist pack, my goal was to avoid spending any money for housing, and being in a college town had me optimistic about my situation.
I had a day to worry about that anyway, as I had already secured shelter for the first night. I had made a post on the couchsurfing.com weeks before and received a reply by a man who lived about an hour north of Missoula. He seemed decent enough after a quick glance at his public profile; a former college professor at the University of Montana with a naturalist’s beard and a PhD in French Lit. When he mentioned he would be happy to drive me up to Glacier National Park, I was sold. My excitement was palpable as I sent a reply explaining my interest.
After I sent my message with my itinerary and plans for the week, I decided to really go through and check out this internet man’s profile to see who I’d be staying with. My stomach did an interesting flip when I ultimately got to the line where he proudly proclaims that he’s a nudist, that his house is clothing optional, and that by God he’s a member Gay Bear Couchsurfers group. He was a naturalist, alright.
After a moment of contemplation, I let out a long guffaw at what I had jumped into. I had no problem with those facts, but when you meet somebody from the vast internets, you never really know who you’re meeting. And I’d be in a strangers house in the middle of the woods far away from anything and everyone. His honesty and openness was comforting, but I told friends and family I’d be packing my bear mace—just in case.
Luckily, he turned out to be an awesome dude with a lot of insight on the local area and beyond. He also had the courtesy of keeping his cloths on for the duration. Thanks to him, I saw more of Montana than I could have ever asked for in a days time and had a cozy bed to retire in. On top of all that, I gradually learned his unbelievable role in the region’s medical marijuana scene and the unfortunate events that lead to a series of changes in the legislature that made MM almost impossible to disperse to the people in Montana who need it. With some places having the legalization movement seeming to be thriving, I was surprised to see it being snuffed out on a scale such as this in a place where the snowball seemed to be rolling so well. But that’s another story for another time.
Long story short, the first 32 hours in Montana were a success. I was dropped off at a gas station in downtown Missoula on day two and we said our farewells. I had already seen and done so much, but things were about to change gears drastically. It was festival time, and the first hour was a complete and utter cluster fuck.
More pictures [here].