“Living Big Sky” in Great Falls

There is a show on HGTV called “Living Big Sky.” Each episode features a married couple (and their kids, in some cases) who are moving to Montana. The show hooks them up with a realtor, and they are presented with three houses, and at the end of the episode they announce which of the three they have chosen.

"Living Big Sky"

“Living Big Sky”

In between each visit to a potential new home, the couple is introduced to something “Montana-ey” — skiing, skijoring, snow-cycling, ice-climbing — to show how amazing the Treasure State is.

Up until a few weeks ago, every episode that we have seen featured a couple moving to one of the areas that are generally considered to be “trendier” than Great Falls: often Kalispell/Whitefish or Bozeman, some Missoula or Bitterroot, and even I think a few in Billings and Helena. One episode even focused on the Red Lodge area.

My wife and I often wondered if there would EVER be a Great Falls episode. I mean…you know that I think Great Falls is truly the best place in the world, but to the “outside” TV-viewing public, well…

When I say “Bozeman” or “Missoula,” that’s a very rough approximation. In many cases, the realtor shows the couple homes that are quite a distance from the “hub” town — and lo and behold, that was taken to the extreme on the episode that (finally!) featured Great Falls.

Here is the intro to the show:

Kelsey Conrow, a native Californian, is roping in her long-time beau, Kodi Groves, and heading for ‘The Treasure State,’ aka Big Sky Country. Having recently accepted a position as a registered dietician in Montana, Kelsey is excited to bring Kodi, a native of Wyoming, back to his country roots. Kelsey and Kodi are looking for a house that hits up both of their wish lists; a feat for sure! While Kelsey wants to looks at more luxurious, updated cabins, Kodi wants a remote cabin with tons of land, which also means a long commute for Kelsey. Will they find some middle ground in the hunt for their Montana dream home?

As we clicked to watch the episode, my wife and I half-jokingly wondered how far away from Great Falls the realtor would take this couple. Cascade? Belt area? Fort Benton?

For the slice-of-life, of course, the show featured the (to me) legendary Sip-N-Dip, and also showed the couple strolling around the Farmers Market downtown. Nice touches.

But back to “finding a house in or near Great Falls.” The realtor took this couple even farther away from Great Falls than my wife and I even jokingly imagined: one of the three houses they were shown was near WOLF CREEK – about 55 miles south of town, and actually closer to Helena.

Another was in Valier. VALIER, seriously. Lovely community, for sure, but it’s even farther away from Great Falls – about 85 miles.

I can’t recall specifically where the third one was — somewhere south of Cascade, if memory serves.

And just for fun, the realtor also showed them one of the condos downtown – the ones above Crooked Tree – which the couple quickly rejected (too small).

Ultimately, the couple decided on the Valier house – it was indeed a beautiful home.

Well, at least Great Falls was featured, even if just for a couple of minutes of on-air time.

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Eye On Great Falls!

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Here’s a look at some of the changes happening in Great Falls, including new businesses, construction in progress, and other tidbits.

Let me also note: I appreciate changes like this. Sometimes they are sad – such as when Goodes’s Q & Bayou Grill closed. Sometimes they are good – such as the news of Big Bang Pizza (below). But these changes are always fascinating, and are part of what makes our community vibrant and diverse.

The Prime Cut restaurant closed last week. After more than 37 years of working at and then owning the restaurant, the owner said that it’s time for him to try something new. Best wishes to him!

Construction has begun on the new City Brew facility on the corner of 3rd Street NW and Smelter Avenue, on the lot that once housed Burger Master. I’m pretty excited about this — I am super-super-super-loyal to Starbucks, but I am looking forward to trying a new place. More choices = good.

Big Bang Pizza opened for business this week in the Columbus Center building. I’ve already had it twice – and was VERY impressed both times! Some more info here.

The New Peking Restaurant on 3rd Street NW is closed – but only for remodeling. No word yet on how long it will be closed for renovations.

Dimitri’s Restaurant on 3rd Street NW closed several weeks ago. The Greek-themed eatery posted note on the door says the restaurant lost its lease and they are being forced out. Very sad – it was a pretty neat restaurant, run by two wonderful people – I hope they bring it back in another location. Here’s a brief review from when it first opened.

A new egg-processing facility is being built along 38th Street North near 10th Avenue. Click here for more information.

Construction continues along 10th Avenue South between 14th Street and 15th Street for a new Town Pump convenience store and casino. The site was formerly home to the Townhouse Inn hotel. Click here to read more.

Hobby Lobby apparently plans to open a store in Great Falls. I’ve heard rumors that it will be located inside the former Sears store in Holiday Village Mall. I’m not a “hobbyist,” so it’s not a big deal for me – but this news sure did make a lot of people happy (and some people not happy, due to political differences), based on Facebook reactions. Click here for more information.

Construction on the new Walmart and East-End Retail Center along 10th Avenue South near 57th Street is going strong. Click here for details.

And as some of you have surely heard, there are rumors that Ulta and Harbor Freight will be coming to Great Falls — but as far as I know, they are only rumors at this point.

Big Bang Pizza!

Ladies and gentlemen, behold the newest purveyor of pizza in Great Falls: Big Bang Pizza!

Big Bang Pizza in Great Falls

Big Bang Pizza in Great Falls

I had the good fortune to get a sneak peek and taste on Sunday before the official grand opening on Monday – and I was quite impressed.

First, the design and theme: Big Bang! Very cool – appropriately “sciencey” names for all of the offerings – Proton, Super Nova, Black Hole, Ultra Sonice, etc. This is the same team that owns the Burger Bunker, so they know how to take a concept and make it work.

Second, the pizza: delicious, quite simply. I of course opted solely for the pepperoni, and it was very good. The crust is not like any other pizza crust I’ve ever had — it wasn’t too thin or thick, and it was…fluffier? than other places. And the pepperoni slices were HUGE.

My lovely wife and some of our best friends tried some of the other types of pizza and offerings, and they, too, were duly impressed. My friend Monica posted this review on the Big Bang Pizza Facebook page: “The Buffalo wings were fabulous! The Quantum Force pizza was my favorite, very unique and delicious! The Black Hole was yummy as was the Proton, Newton, Inertia and White Noise. I’d try anything on the menu!”

And yes, they offer gluten-free pizza.

Where to find it: in the Columbus Center (the old hospital) at 1600 2nd Avenue North. Second floor, right around the corner from the elevator. BUT they also deliver, if you can’t get down there.

And I would also like to note that I ate pizza three days in a row: Saturday at Rikki’s, Sunday at Big Bang, and Monday we had Mackenzie River delivered. All were delicious :-)

Looks like I’m going to have update my list of favorite pizza places in Great Falls!

In & Out

Had a very pleasant healthcare experience on Saturday. Well, as pleasant as can be expected, considering that I don’t feel so great.

As much as I appreciate my military healthcare option, sometimes it just isn’t very convenient – especially on weekends, when the Malmstrom clinic is closed!

Walk-In Express in Great Falls

Walk-In Express in Great Falls

So after feeling pretty yucky for more than 24 hours, I decided to try to the (fairly) new Walk In Express on the NW side of town.

It was simple – went to the website, booked my appointment, and drove down there about 20 minutes later.

It’s a small facility, but very clean, modern, and efficient, given its purpose.

The friendly med tech screened me in, I paid the flat $89 visit fee, and got seen by a very nice, professional nurse practitioner (NPs are dear to my heart, as are PAs).

Diagnosis: basically, a double-ear infection. She prescribed me some meds, and I popped over to the pharmacy inside Albertsons right across the street, paid $52 for the 2 meds. And, of course, picked up my regular drink at SBX (thanks Taylor and Katie!) and a few snackables.

And…I was home in less than an hour. Couldn’t have been simpler or more convenient.

A+++ for Walk In Express!

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