The Tween Season

Jerry Schuster, photos by Zach Hoffman  |   Tuesday May. 1st, 2018

Seems to be that time of year again in Bozeman. Outdoor winter sports and events are pretty well finished, and it’s much too early to get out for the area’s summer activities.

What is one to do? You can’t go downhill or cross country skiing, or snowboarding; it’s too wet. You can’t snowshoe, not enough snow on the trails. You certainly can’t go hiking, even with spikes on your boots, way too sloppy out there.

Okay, let’s keep it negative for awhile, as it augments your cholers and insipid persona this time of year. So, the ice is not off Hyalite Reservoir, but you can’t go ice fishing, as the ice is thin. Oh, what about that boat and raft you’ve stored in the garage all winter, much to the consternation of your spouse, who thinks the space should actually be used for something as minor as the SUV needed to haul the kids to school. The Yellowstone is running very wild and is filled with branches and debris. The ice chunks are the size of VW Beetles. Could scratch the boat. Just acknowledge that the boat and raft will be in the garage for another three months. You will take them out in July for the annual 28-minute excursion on Canyon Ferry, after which they will be put back in storage. Nice. Fun.

Yes, we are in the tween season in the Gallatin Valley. Not winter, not summer. In between, or just “tween.” Some people call it spring. It can snow or rain or be very dry, windy and calm. All on the same day.

Just let it go now. Release those negative thoughts and step out of your comfort zone. Quit pouting.

This is a great time to get outdoors and have a lot of fun in the Gallatin Valley. I will give you some ideas, but it is up to you to move forward and follow through.

First idea is to get on your old hiking boots, the ones you never ever want to wear around polite company.

Next, you must find a trail which is seldom used by locals during the regular hiking season, and hopefully somewhat dry. You wouldn’t want to leave foot-deep boot prints in the trail, as that really upsets the summer hikers, bikers and dog walkers.

A good trail for this venture might be the “M” trail, as it melts off easier and most locals have quit hiking it since it is littered with dog poop and smells really bad.

The average mountain trail hike will be about 100 yards total if you find goo. Bring a lunch, as a short hike will take about three hours. One gooey step at a time. Make sure your boots have good laces. Do not wear slip-ons. The slip-ons will be left in the gooey mud until July 6th, after which time you can try to retrieve them. There will be lots of boots to choose from, so pick a good pair that fits you and ones that do not have the tops eaten off by the dogs. Don’t fret, it’s good for their teeth.

Don’t like that one?  

This next recommendation is sure to please. One thing about it, you can be young or old and still enjoy this tween activity. No special talents required, just a vehicle, and a sense of adventure..

It’s called “splash and dash.” It is mainly enjoyed at this time of year, when there are large, deepwater puddles on the streets and intersections. In Minnesota, these are classified as “lakes.” This activity can also be practiced after a summer downpour. Some of the good pools are on Garfield Ave, Kagy and the Huffine intersection near Rosauers.

The reason these puddles are so deep is because the drain system in this town is either poorly designed or not maintained and therefore is not functional when needed. The puddle on Kagy that accesses the Catholic Church is so deep that the city should consider using it as a new community swimming pool, and we could save a lot of money.  All it would need is a good cover.

How this happened after the city spent fourteen years with surveys and the design phases of the “improvements” on Kagy a few years ago is a real mystery. Go figure. I will admit that the drain system in Bozeman does work well during periods of extended drought, like last summer. Oh well, I will save the rest of this rant for another article, because I want to get you to the fun part.

What you do is drive around until you find one of these bodies of water; this will not take long. Then you hit the puddle as fast and square on as you can, within the legal speed limit of course, and always obeying all rules of the road! If you happen to go a bit outside the law and get stopped by an officer, do not blame me. Please do not show this article to the officer as justification for your behavior. I assure you, this is not a valid defense for careless driving.

You want to create as big a splash as possible. Now, if there are some folks on bikes or pedestrians near the puddle, they, of course, will get very wet or muddy in this process. I would never suggest that you proceed when this is the case, and any thoughts that it would add to the fun are yours alone. Don’t even begin to think that I would condone such behavior. Do not take that leap.

If you are fortunate, there will be a newly washed vehicle approaching you in the other lane of traffic. If that vehicle is black and white and has a light bar on top, do not attempt this venture at that time. Just inch through the puddle, and wave at the officer.

Next step is to run your wipers and look out the rear view mirror as the other driver pumps his fist or presents other hand gestures at you. Just remember, some people can’t stand to see others have a little fun. Just ignore such rudeness.

This sport is especially facetious if you have one of those really tall pickups, with oversize tires, black in color and usually very muddy in appearance. These are generally equipped with loud mufflers and “smoke screen” systems. It seems that many vehicles involved in splash and dash fit into this genre.

One more, then you can head out and give these a try.

It’s tween season fat tire biking. You will want some tires with the special grips which plow through ice and mud. The price point on a good set of these special tires will be about $700.00. These treads are great for meandering through the ice and water puddles, but only on the plowed and paved streets of Bozeman. The newer streets here have bike lanes that are wider than the lanes for cars. As the size of the cars shrink, the driving lanes become much more narrow.

The plans for these new, wide bike lanes are all in the City’s Master Plan, in the chapter entitled, “The Strategic Plan for Bozeman Streets with Emphasis on Filling the Pot Holes With a Gooey Substance Which Will Cling to All Those New Cars and Improving and Widening Bike Lanes to Accommodate Riding Four Abreast.” No need to read the entire report, as it is rather boring since it was drafted by city planners who dream of riding bikes to work. I can give you a two-sentence summary: Bikes and dogs are priorities for the City of Bozeman. Cars and people are secondary.

I’ve got to run now. Just got a call from “National Enquirer” that they like my articles since they contain almost no truth as to facts, but do have a certain sting of satire which hits on topics which are not commonly addressed in this town. Might pinch a nerve. Oh, aren’t we so sensitive. Could it be that they want to retain me as their local news source? Wait….this just in…breaking news…it’s CNN on the line …got to run.

Goodbye for now. Enjoy the “tween season,” and if you are out walking, jogging or biking on the streets of Bozeman, wear some good water-proof gear.

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