I had to do a search for “Molly’s Nipple Road” today (it does exist) and one of the search results was for an entry on the Hitchhiker’s Guide To America, which offers some perspective about why Montana is called Big Sky Country.
The state still looks like a place where you could park your car along some two-lane highway, start walking away from the road, and spend the rest of your life as a mountain man in the wilderness—without ever being discovered by another human. Such is the appeal of big sky country. I had been a bit skeptical of the state’s “big sky” claim; isn’t the sky the one thing that would be the same size as everywhere else? It always covers about 180 degrees, and stretches from horizon to horizon. As I drove between Billings and Great Falls, I started to believe in the “big sky” thing a little bit. The sky still stretches from horizon to horizon, but in Montana the horizons seem farther off. I would drive over one ridge of hills or mountains and see a valley stretching to the next ridge—10, 20, or 50 miles distant. And when I would finally reach and cross that next ridge, I would be greeted by another valley stretching for another few dozen miles. And there was often no sign of human interference in sight, other than the road I was traveling down.