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October 2012

California Travel Insider's Expanding Horizons

A Story Waiting to Unfold in Montana by Barbara L. Steinberg

Montana

Life has delivered many changes the past two years. I won't bore you will all the details, but will share the most important two.

1.) At a travel trade show in Santa Clara I met Sharon Boudreaux-Stam, Executive Director, West Baton Rouge Convention & Visitors Bureau. Hearing that I am a travel writer, she invited me to come to Baton Rouge. An interesting thought, but I explained that writing about California has been my passion for more than 20 years. She then said, "Barbara, you need to expand your horizons!" Seven words. Powerful meaning.

2.) For the past few months -- almost daily -- Montana, the state, has come into my viewshed. People I know have recently moved there. Another friend, 80 years plus, purchased a vacation home. I discovered another friend was born and raised there. While visiting near Calistoga, I met a woman who had just arrived from Montana to vacation in California. She informed me that there are new nonstop flights from Oakland to Montana. Driving to the Eastern Sierra, I passed two Montana-brand RVs. On the radio, a newscast talking about the economy in Montana. An e-newsletter promoting the joys of travel in Montana and on and on.

Hey, you don't have to hit me over the head with Montana! Then again, maybe you do.

Writing about California is what I love. It's also comfortable. I kept hearing those words, 'expand your horizons.' Where better to expand than the Big Sky state. Clearly, Montana is calling my name.

I am going to Montana!

Not an easy decision because it is outside of my comfort zone. Always encouraging others to travel -- especially other women -- I realized I also needed to follow my own advice. While I was telling them to see California, the real truth is I was telling them to expand their horizons, too! Traveling is easy for me in California. Will it be the same in Montana? Why shouldn't it? I know that once I am behind the wheel of my rental car, the anxiety will fall away and I will be one with the blacktop.I assume.

For the first time in many years I headed for AAA. I don't have GPS and don't use GPS. I love to look at maps and see myself moving from Point A to Point B. I now have the map and book for Idaho, Montana, & Wyoming. Three states in one. While California -- so large -- is broken int two: southern and northern books. I also picked up North and South Dakota because I will be heading to the Badlands National Park and Cedar Pass Lodge, operated by Forever Resorts, to visit my friend Darla. So true to my "travel insider" spirit, I will be racking up some serious road miles. My scheduled tour includes: Billings, Bozeman, Dillon, Red Lodge and then....who knows.

Everyone keeps asking, "Why Montana?" My honest response is, "I don't know, but I will soon."

There is actually a third thing that happened to inspire this trip. (3) While visiting Moss Landing, California, a woman came up to me and said, "Are you that woman I met....?" My answer, "Why yes, I am!" Where we originally met isn't important. What matters is that I want to continue to be "that woman," whether it's California, Montana or South Dakota.

I am expanding my horizons.