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In Montana, No One Can Hear You Scream

Butte, MT—To leave Seattle and stay in the US, you must go in one of two directions. Since we came from the south, our Seattle exit was east, which pointed us homeward for the first time. Whether spurred on by that closing gap, the first full day of miserable weather, or just the way people drive in this part of the country, the uncharacteristic patience I’ve displayed behind the wheel over the past 6,000 miles has begun to dissolve.

The same courteous motorists that allowed this tourist to get across four lanes of traffic for a last minute exit (which would never happen in Philadelphia) were also dimwitted enough to needlessly linger at fluctuating low speeds in the passing lane and drive with their lights off in sheets of rain. The west-bound me that drove through the wastelands of Texas two weeks ago wouldn’t have been bothered, but the east-bound me of today just couldn’t handle the fact that these laid-back mooncalves were delaying my check-in at a Motel 6 in Butte, Montana. You know, the original MacGuffin.

Montana’s Mysterious Message

The name Montana is derived from the Spanish word “montaña,” which means “mountain.” You see, there are a lot of mountains here. If more states had followed this sort of naming convention, California would be named Terremoto (Spanish for “earthquake”) and New Jersey would be named Camaro (Spanish for “Camaro”).

Montana puts its namesake to good use: many of its towns and cities have marked an adjacent mountain with their first initial, large enough to be visible from miles away. As these initials continued to pop up along I-90, Wayne and I realized Montana was sending us a coded message. By the time we got to Butte, we had F (for Frenchtown), M (for Missoula), L (for MissouLa?), and D (for Drummond). Obviously, a crucial vowel was missing, but our cunning powers of deduction filled that in and revealed the cryptic missive: MILF’D. We expect to serve as the inspiration for the next Dan Brown novel.