Maybe it's just me, but it seems that a prerequisite to being a cool state in this union of ours is having an "M" at the beginning of your name. Let's take a few examples:
Maine: Where else can you meet a gun-toting, cross-dressing moose hunter that built his home by hand, but just so happens to enjoy wearing high heels on a daily basis? More shocking: What other small town in America would be live-and-let-live enough to look the other way at such oddities? Finally, where else is the revolutionary spirit more alive than in a place where snow mobiles are more valued than cars?
Massachusetts: You've got Cape Cod, the Boston Red Sox, the Kennedy's, Same-Sex marriage, a Mormon governor, the best subway system in the country, Walden Pond, Paul Revere, and more institutes of higher learning than anywhere else in the country. Though Massholes can be, well...you know, Massachusetts pretty much rocks.
Minnesota: I've sung my praises to the Northern state that still calls itself the "Midwest," but I could reiterate: Minnesota, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love your big blue lakes and those beautiful Minnesota blue eyes. I love the Mall of America's American hubris that sits in the shadow of a luminous local gospel. I love your local restaurants, your milling history, your pioneer spirit. Most of all, I love your summers, three months that redeem the other nine.
Maryland: Here's a shocker. Maryland is an "M" state even though for years, I unabashedly put Maryland into a below the Mason Dixon, red and redneck state. That was until I came across the utter hipness of Baltimore's Fells Point area full of old brothels, cobblestone streets, ghosts of Edgar Allen Poe's era, live music and bars.
Most recently, I made a jaunt through Montana, my first and only time in Big Sky country. Though short and sweet, my trip through Montana left quite an impression...Let's discuss the top 5 things I love about Montana. Hold onto your big sky Montana. Here it comes:
1- Montana has humility. It's big sky and rivers running through it don't shout at you from billboards. They sit quietly in the background waiting to be discovered. Yes, Yellowstone attracts RVs from all over the world, but its popularity travels by word of mouth, not advertisement.
2- Montana has radical little towns. Take Bozeman. Bozeman puts the cool into Montana's mountains. It's cool like Santa Cruz was before Gap and Borders. It's cool like an underused metaphor. It's cool like the original Ray Bans in summer 2009. Coolest of all, it has a cafe where the coolest girls in the U.S. have gathered and formed a secret society: Nova. But, let's get this straight (cough): they are Montana cool, not San Francisco cool. They aren't too cool to talk to you in this breakfast-serving Cheers of the West. The best brunch in town also features the best company in town. Imagine (Insert John Lennon singing here).
3- Montana's got culture. Headed West on I-90, I look out to the right and a dense gathering of tipis extend as far as the eye can see. I had inadvertently stumbled upon the Crow Nation's annual pow-wow.
4. Montana inspires passionate love affairs. As John Steinbeck put it in Travels with Charley, " I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, and even some affection, but with Montana it is love."
5. Montana has rest stops with strange bits of trivia: The Crazy Mountains, for example, drive people mad...but don't worry. That's only for people traveling by horse and carriage. Inside the safety of your vehicle, the mountains will not penetrate your mind and cause wobbliness, dementia, or devotion for the Big Sky, right?