Since before I was even born I have been going up to Whitefish lake for vacation. (I was born in August; my family spent three weeks there that July) We used to spend three weeks at Kamp Karefree, a group of rustic old log cabins on Monk's Bay. Eventually, Kamp Karefree sold out to what was then a high-end (but is now a mid-range) condo development called Mountain Harbor.
When Kamp Karefree sold, we switched to the Wildwood condos, a quiet development a mile or so up the shore. Now I take my family up there for at least a few days every year. I don't think I have missed a summer in my lifetime.

When I was in college I made many friends who were born and raised in Whitefish. We spent time in that little community in all seasons, partying, spending time with family, hiking, you name it. I dated a girl from Columbia Falls in college, and my sister lived briefly in Kalispell. This little town on the lake, and the Flathead Valley in general, was truly like a second home to me.

Not any more.

I just returned from five days in Whitefish. It's not my town any more. As a friend of mine who is a banker up there (and who had to move to Columbia Falls from his hometown of Whitefish in order to afford a home) told me, the "big, big money" has moved in. These are people who write million dollar checks and cannot look at a piece of land without imagining a building on it.

It's over for the valley. The ultra-rich look down their long noses at the locals and sneer with derision as they refer to them as the "villagers" or the "village people." These are the people who sit next to you on a restaurant deck one pleasant Montana evening and have absolutely no interest in saying hello, mixing, or even acknowledging your existence. And, in a small town in Montana, these are the people who will pass you without a 'hello' or even that funny little eyebrow raise you sometimes give to acknowlegdge the existence of another.

The Flathead Valley is gone, and I've heard the same is true of Bozeman. I don't begrudge people great wealth, but we have made this state what it is. Respect our state and respect us.

I feel like we've sold out our state for a few Lowe's and a Bed, Bath & Beyond.


a-fire-fly said...

I am so with you on this one. Missoula, Flathead, Bozeman, have become playgrounds for the wealthy.

Walter Greenspan said...

This has happened in many other places, such as the famous "Hamptons" area (includes Westhampton Beach, Quiogue, Quogue, East Quogue, Hampton Bays, Shinnecock Hills, Southampton, Water Mill, Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, Wainscott, East Hampton and Amagansett) on the east end of the Long Island's south fork, where many, with family roots that go back to the early part of the 17th century, have been forced out of their ancestral area.

WolfPack said...

I think some of the problem is what qualifies as rich here in MT is so dumbed down. Some of the rich snobs you are talking about couldn’t get away with the same arrogance back home where their from. I think some of them come here because our land is so cheap and they feel we are so easily impressed. I agree they are irritating.

Wulfgar said...

I'm not certain that Bozeman is quite that bad yet, but Big Sky certainly is.

GeeGuy said...

As a guy who lives in the midst of it, it's kind of sad, isn't it? I really feel sorry for these small town locals who have really lost their home.

Wulfgar said...

It's rather beyond sad. My beloved and I were driving around yesterday and she (one of the most accepting people I've ever known) looked at me and said:

"What happened to our sleepy little cow town?"

david said...

I remain relatively confident that Great Falls will never succumb to the Cali-Yuppie plague.

GiftShoppeGuy said...

It was my playground for many many years... from Sula all the way up to Eureka, and every place inbetwixed....
Not anymore I'm afraid.... I blew out of Missoula like a good dawg gone bad and never looked back..

I still have family and a great number of friends still living over thar yonder, and though I go for a visit on occasion, I could never actually live there (Missoula) again.