By Michael Heins
In the short period that I have been in Havre I have come to enjoy what this town has to offer.
I have been here for almost two months. Before I came to Havre I knew very little about anything east of the divide. I got various opinions, from people in Walla Walla, Wash., and Milton-Freewater, Ore., about the Havre area, mostly positive but a few negatives.
These views ranged from the beauty of the area, to how friendly the people are, to wear cowboy boots, to watch out for the skin heads. I knew Montana enough to not take the latter statement serious.
The Internet was the greatest help. This resource provided me with images of the town and the surrounding Bears Paw Mountains. When I arrived I was not disappointed. I have found the people of this small, out of the way, community very friendly.
People usually do not stop for pedestrians in Walla Walla like they do here and in Spokane they often speed up when a pedestrian is in the cross walk. It often appears like they are trying to run you over, but in reality they are just trying to get past you.
The town itself has a lot more than I had thought it would with numerous stores and businesses, although I miss the espresso shops and the wine tasting rooms in Walla Walla. I feel that on the most part this town has almost everything a person needs and, if it is not here, I could always go to Great Falls.
I have also been very impressed with the architecture of some the older buildings such as the Court House or the Heritage center with their neoclassical design, as well as numerous older homes such as the Gussenhoven mansion. My hope is that Havre will continue to preserve these older buildings. They make the town much more interesting and I believe that brings in tourist.
I have been impressed with the Bears Paw Mountains. I have hiked and backpacked in ten western states, and hiked in five European countries: Greece, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland and England.
The Bears Paw seems to have a stark beauty to them, although it seems that much of the mountain range is privately owned and this might limit access. I plan to hike in the future and make arrangements with the ranchers there to hike across their lands.
I feel that what I have seen is only the tip of the ice berg for what this area has to offer. Some of the other areas I would like to explore are the Little Rockies, Sweet Grass Hills and along the Missouri River.
Living in Havre also will provide me easy access to the Bob Marshall, the Great Bear, and the Scapegoat Wilderness areas as well as Glacier National Park. I backpacked in the Bob Marshall wilderness area in 1983 and 1993 and I want to see much more of this spectacular wilderness.
In time, I hope to learn more about what this area has to offer and to get to know the people of this community.
It took me three years to start to get to know the people and resources in Walla Walla and in time I will get to know this area as well.