It’s interesting to listen to the reactions you get when you tell someone you’re from Columbia Falls.
If you mention it anywhere outside of the Flathead, the response is “Wow, you’re lucky” or “I’ll bet you really like it there” and things like that.
If you tell someone here in the Valley, the responses seem to range from “Really? Me too!” to sadness and apathy (not sure what provokes that), to “Oh, so do you work at the Aluminum Plant or Plum Creek?” to “I really like it up there” and similar reactions. It’s all over the board.
And before you ask, no, I’m not a native. I should be so lucky, but I wasn’t. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley in the mountains of Virginia. 30 (OK, OK, maybe it was 40) years ago it was very much like the Flathead is today, and that’s one reason why we’re here.
Not long after we moved here 9 years ago, I met a guy in Whitefish at an art show and he asked where I was from. My sometimes (ha) southern-ish accent told him that somewhere wasn’t “around here”.
I told him that we had recently moved to Columbia Falls from out of state.
I guess the tone of my reply told him that I felt small (hey, there’s a change!) because I wasn’ t from here. His answer was something along the lines of “I was lucky enough to be born here. You had to look for this place and be smart enough to move here, so enjoy it, be a part of it, and don’t worry about where you came from.”
And I don’t, because Columbia Falls is my home.
So, in no particular order, here’s my list of 40 things that make Columbia Falls a great place to call home.
1. It’s OK to say C-Falls.
2. We don’t argue about every single flippin’ tiny little thing, even though we probably should argue about some of ’em more than we do.
3. People here don’t mind being called “folks”, collectively speaking.
4. Columbia Falls folks are glad when a new business moves to town, or when someone opens a new business.
5. Columbia Falls people welcome new folks to town, as long as they don’t expect Columbia Falls to become just like that city of 4 gazillion people they moved here to get away from.
6. Karen Ulmer’s Columbians (heck, I like all her bands)
7. Cimarron Deli (yeah I know, Ray calls it Cimarron Cafe now, call me old fashioned) and especially the secret recipe berry vinaigrette that Alex won’t give me the recipe for.
8. Coffee Traders – the java, the talk, and of course, the Pine.
9. Tien’s Place
10. The carnitas at Los Caporales. And maybe a few other things there.
11. No one cares if you do 17 different things for a living. In fact, people really only seem to care if you keep your word, help out around town and be an asset to the community. How cool is that?
12. Dave and Barry’s First Best Place Task Force. Prior efforts haven’t seemed to have this level of focus and direction. I think these guys are taking us somewhere.
13. Night of Lights
14. Heritage Days (OK, I haven’t ever been because we’re always out of town for swim meets, at least till 2011, but I simply couldn’t leave it off, cuz I’ll get to go someday.)
15. The Chamber, Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis. All doing good stuff.
16. The Lions Pancake Breakfast
17. Business After Hours
18. The friendly ladies at the post office. You know who you are.
19. Glacier Clean, cuz I don’t have to chase down 15 quarters to wash my rig.
20. Summers with the Columbia Falls Swim Team.
21. Thursday night Farmers Market over on the Truby’s-to-be lot.
22. The history of Columbia Falls mural.
23. Alpenglow on Columbia Mountain in the winter.
24. Friday night football.
25. Wildcat basketball.
26. The boys in Troop 41. They keep an old guy young.
27. Jazz Cafe and Pops & Pies.
28. We have more barber shops and beauty salons per capita than anyone (No, that’s not a scientifically verified factoid), yet I still don’t mind waiting for Barb.
29. Mel Ruder’s photos.
30. We get great support for Eagle projects from local businesses.
31. Mr. C’s Speech and Debate Team (psst, don’t forget Mrs. Dorr and Mrs. Norick)
32. We give good traffic. Does *anyone* miss big city traffic? Didn’t think so.
33. The trains, unless I’m in a hurry.
34. First Friday Music at Coffee Traders. Hey, how about doing it this winter too???
35. Shhh, don’t tell my wife. Occasionally, the blizzards at the C-Falls DQ.
36. Bill at Town Pump. Always has a welcoming smile and time for a brief chat.
37. Chris Peterson, not only for his photos, but because he shares a little of himself in his book and columns in the Hungry Horse News.
38. Joe at The Hungry Horse News because he doesn’t mind when I put his mug in the Beacon, among other things.
39. The Beacon, for giving Columbia Falls an independent voice that I hope complements the Hungry Horse News. And no, I don’t mean independent like it sounds.
40. Bill, Fred, Stu, Joe, Carl, Rich, Ralph, Mike, Michelle, John, Zak, John, Naureen, and all the other coaches and youth leaders who give their spare time for our kids.
I’m sure I missed something or someone.
What’s your favorite thing about Columbia Falls?
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