By Cameron Lord

I moved to Big Sky in mid-August
from Austin, Texas. In my previous
life, I was a finance guy, running
numbers, armed with a Blackberry
and some spreadsheets. The pay was
good, but I felt the need for something
more. So last month I put that
world in the rearview mirror and
moved to Montana.

I’ve always wanted to live in a
smaller town in a beautiful place.
But now, I’m finding out just how
different my new world really is.
When I packed up the U-Haul, I
was expecting mountain living to
be easy: It’s not 108 degrees here, so
how hard could it be?

A friend set me up with a place to
rent in West Fork, above Milkie’s
and The Wrap Shack—a “primo location,”
she assured me. It sure starts
sounding like the place to be around
7 p.m. most nights, once the music
and revelers get going. (Maybe that’s
why my place was vacant.) Embracing
the party vibe, I started sampling
the local food and nightlife.

After a week of eating out for most
meals, I learned a couple of things:
1) You can make it to every restaurant
in Big Sky in a week, and 2) I
would go broke soon if I didn’t start
cooking for myself.

Enter the world of grocery shopping
Big Sky-style.

My only experience so far had been
spending $17 in the Town Center
for a 10-pack of Claritin to quell
an emergency allergy attack after
running the Reflector Trail. Damned
wildflowers! Still feeling that
wallet-sting, I decided I needed to go
to Bozeman to buy groceries. There’s
a Costco in Bozeman, and isn’t that
the Lazy American Embassy? I’d feel
right at home.

As much as I love Costco, it’s not
a one-stop-shop. But I wasn’t sure
where else in Bozeman to go. So
many options—I’ve never seen a
place with more grocery stores per
square mile: Town & Country,
the Co-Op, Rosauers, Albertsons,
Heebs, Safeway, Montana Natural
Harvest.

I settled on the Co-op and purchased
some fancy organic produce, then
headed to Costco to load up on meat.
As I pulled into the parking lot, I
realized I’d committed yet another
rookie error: I didn’t bring a cooler. I
decided to make Costco my last stop
and crossed my fingers that nothing
spoiled or defrosted on the long
drive home.

Driving south on 191, I also realized
I hadn’t come close to buying
enough food, and I would probably
run out of produce in less than a
week. Lesson learned: If you have
to travel an hour each way for food,
buy a lot.

It turns out even grocery shopping
in Montana is enough to humble
a former Manhattan investment
banker; it takes a lot to humble an
investment banker, which is why I
left in the first-place.

So, next time you see a guy in the
Hungry Moose, loading up on produce,
looking confused and consulting
a map, come over and say hi—I
could use the conversation. More
importantly, I’m probably lost.

Cameron is a former banker, part time
blogger and full-time gaper who
shares his misadventures as he learns
about mountain life in Big Sky. Read
his blog at
highlighter-theory.typepad.com/.