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Explore: Coffee Club, A Grasshopper Valley Tradition

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It’s 8 a.m. on a sunny Saturday, and
the men from the Coffee Club start
to trickle into the dining room at
the Grasshopper Inn in tiny Polaris, Montana, 30 minutes west
of Dillon. Owner of the Inn, Tom
Nelson, brings out a tray of personalized mugs.
First, Roger and Jim show up and
quietly sip from their coffee stained
mugs. Then Tucker rolls in, wearing a long down coat. It’s a brilliant
sunny day outside, and his cowboy
hat is pulled low over his eyes. A
previous owner of the Grasshopper
Inn, he still shows up every morning
for Coffee Club—a group of up to
ten men who meet to talk, read the
paper, joke, and “solve all the world’s
problems,” says another member,
Jim.
The men trickle in the door and
circle around their usual table, until
there are eight of them. They banter,
explaining their morning ritual.
“Sometimes we talk about the weather,” says Roger.
“That don’t take long,” says Jim,
who moved to Polaris from Ohio 36
years ago.
“It’s chilly this morning,” Larry says.
“About five or six degrees,” says Roger.
No women are allowed, “or else
we wouldn’t have anything to talk
about, and we’d have to wash our
mugs,” Roger jokes.
“Sometimes we play show and tell,”
says Jim. “Everyone brings a differ-
ent gun and passes it around!”
Another past owner of the Inn,
Larry, sits at the far end of the table.
“It’s pretty quiet here usually,” he
says. “The road up the Grasshopper
Valley was gravel until recently.”
Six months out of the year, after
all, the road dead ends just after
Maverick Mountain, at Elkhorn
Hot Springs. On winter weekends,
Dillon residents come up for powder Thursdays or weekends at Mav,
and to soak at Elkhorn. A growing
number of Bozemanites have houses
in Polaris, or in the Grasshopper
Valley. In the summer, Crystal Park,
the ghost town of Coolidge, and the
hill climb car race on the Pioneer
Mountain Scenic Byway, just north
of Polaris, are big tourist draws.

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