Sleeping with Crickets

Life on the Ranch

The last time I was in Montana, I was there to attend my uncle’s wedding to Joyce, at Yellowstone with a reception in the family ranch’s barn. It’s still the best wedding I’ve ever attended – partly because I was too young to remember the other ones and partly because it was full of so much joy and love.

This time, we went back to the ranch to visit — we stayed in the guest house and did Montana activities. Here’s a little taste of the scenery:


When in Montana, one must do as Montanans do. My favorite piece of Montana culture that we got to experience was….the Demolition Derby!

For those who have never experienced one: Demolition Derby is a motorsport usually presented at county fairs and festivals. While rules vary from event to event, the typical demolition derby event consists of five or more drivers competing by deliberately ramming their vehicles into one another. The last driver whose vehicle is still operational is awarded the victory.

Additional rule, for this particular demo derby: you must hit another car every two minutes (or you’re disqualified). The audience is here to see action, after all.

Before Heat 1, this car won Best in Show:


After Heat 1, where it came in second place, it looked like this:


As one of our party pointed out, this event is really great for people-watching as well as for the entertainment of watching cars bash into each other. For instance, the kid next to me had a killer haircut:


Really, these pictures don’t do the event justice. To really get the atmosphere, I encourage you to go grab a cold Bud Light and a cigarette, queue up some car-crash sound effects, and turn them up really loud while sitting in the hot sun. You can even add some whoops and cheers for good measure.

It was the funnest thing I’ll probably never do again. I’m definitely describing it to my French students next year, though.

We also did a ride in the hills above the ranch, on one of the family’s horses! I got to ride Eddie:


I accidentally let Eddie grab a snack at the beginning of the ride, causing a 15-minute stretch of repeatedly reminding him NOT to eat snacks until he finally got the message (sort of, he was still sneaky). And, he jumped over a creek. Jumped! I have a whole new level of respect for horse-jumpers. But I didn’t fall off! I was just thankful that, even though he totally could have, he didn’t purposefully throw me off.

Flash thunderstorms, card-playing, reading, and a lot of romping with the puppies made up the rest of our free time, when we weren’t on our trips into Yellowstone. A great vacation, in a great place with some lovely people! Couldn’t have asked for more. I’ll leave you with this face, of our uncle’s 8 month old black lab:




Oh, and to answer all your questions about the title of this post (in case you had them)…I woke up with crickets in my bed. Multiple nights. Sometimes on my face. One of them even hitched a ride home in my clothes when we packed up. Even though it was startling and gross, I considered myself lucky not to run into more dangerous buggies.

Sleeping with Crickets

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