By DAN SAXTON
I’ve recently arrived in Missoula after moving up from Southern California. Many may wonder: why did I leave the land of eternal sunshine, the ideal beachgoing climate, to move into a hardy, rugged country?
First of all, I am no stranger to four-season weather, having grown up in the countryside of upstate New York and learning to appreciate the variety of spring, summer, fall and winter. The average temperatures of both upstate New York and Missoula are remarkably similar, except that New York is more humid (which I’m glad to do away with here!). So, in one sense, Missoula is not much different from my ancestral home.
Most concretely, however, the plainest reason I can offer for moving to Missoula is that Montana has imprinted herself upon me from an early age. I used to take many family vacations out West, and the first one of them all occurred when I was six years old – to Glacier National Park. That first sight of the Big Sky, the Rocky Mountains, year-round snow, and the amazing beauty of the wild country all powerfully impressed my young mind. Since then the Northern Rockies as a whole have been one of my favorite places upon Earth.
So Montana is a cool place for me……but why Missoula specifically? Well, Missoula is just the right-sized little city for me – not too big, but large enough to have a thriving, vibrant community that has everything I need. It is a dynamic, innovative city that appeals well to people like me who are intellectual and who appreciate the liberal arts. That’s important for me as I explore long-term avenues for making a living here. I also feel that Missoula has better overall access to the type of mountains and wild country that I like than these other two places. For me personally, Glacier Park has a stronger pull than Yellowstone does (though Yellowstone is only four hours away at its closest entrance, which isn’t too bad). Overall, Missoula seems to have a bright future going for it, which also attracts me.
One final reason why I’ve settled in Missoula is that I already have friends there whom I knew in California. They’ve encouraged me to come and be part of Covenant Reformed Church, a new church that has only begun over the last couple years. My Christian faith is very important to me and I am very glad for the opportunity to help this church grow. I’ve already received a great deal of assistance from these friends and other new people whom I’ve met over the last couple weeks since I arrived in town. Therefore, I greatly emphasize the importance of having good social connections, for they make moving into a new area so much easier.
I’ve started this brand-new blog to chronicle my adventures as a newcomer to Missoula as I get to know the community and the beautiful surroundings around town. I feel that my perspective is particularly interesting since I’m a deaf individual who functions primarily in the hearing world and also because I have a strong awareness of my surroundings. I have long studied Montana’s mountains and am eager to showcase them to not only fellow Missoulians, but also to “outsiders.” I hope you will be pleased to join me as I describe settling down in this remarkable city!
Dan Saxton is a newcomer to Missoula. He originally hails from New York, and spent the last four years in California attending graduate school in San Diego. Dan was first introduced to Montana (and the West) at the tender age of six, and has considered it one of his favorite places ever since. Although Dan is hearing-impaired and uses a cochlear implant, he refuses to view his disability as an insurmountable barrier. Now he seeks to make a living in Missoula, spending plenty of time hiking and climbing along the way and sharing his experiences with many others!