At Paws Up, life’s little pleasures, and then some


Katie Chang

Katie Chang’s photo of a “cattle drive” was featured in her Forbes piece.

I’ve written once before about a writer for Forbes writing about the Paws Up resort in Western Montana, but the gaudiness of the joint makes it difficult not to mention another Forbes writer visiting there.

This time the writer is Katie Chang, who describes her typical areas of coverage as “beauty, grooming, style, health, spa/fitness-focused travel.” I’ve never covered grooming, though I do think I once mentioned a monkey cracking his mate’s lice between his front teeth.

Anyway, every time I read about Paws Up, I think of two things: first, as I mentioned in that previous article, the resort developer was the fellow who tried in vain to obtain exclusive rights to use of the phrase “Last Best Place.”

The second thing is, is it really in Montana? It’s just so hard to keep the concept of “Montana” in my head while reading this, from Ms. Chang’s article:

“I get the allure of glamping, the luxury camping trend that put Paws Up on the radar of the outdoor averse and intrepid travelers alike. (Really: who wouldn’t want to wake up and retire to a spacious riverside tent kitted out with electricity, feather beds, private bathrooms, even a butler?)”

I am not trying to foment class warfare here, but it just seems so damned wrong, such an affront to Montana traditions, to see the words “tent” and “butler” in the same sentence.

But Ms. Chang also went on a cattle drive, or something like it: “After saddling up on a horse named Kodiak, I, along with a few other women, spent three hours moving a herd of cattle from spot to spot.”

I’d pay a lot of money to know what the cattle were thinking as they were herded from spot to spot all morning. The cowpuncher Teddy Blue Abbott talked about spending so many hours in the saddle moving cattle from spot (Texas) to spot (Montana) that he and the other cowboys would rub tobacco juice in their eyes to stay awake.

Imagine what Teddy would have thought, after a few hours in the saddle, of going in for this: “As I was sore after the cattle drive—who’d have thunk my muscles would be getting such a healthy workout?—I beelined to the spa in the afternoon. … And to keep in line with my very Montana experience so far, I tried the Montana Gold Rush, 60 soothing minutes of massage with a gold flake-infused oil, followed by a full body dusting of gold flake powder. When I left, I had a spring in my step and glowed. Literally.”

I am not criticizing Ms. Chang. I would much rather be massaged with gold, or even silver, than cover the Billings City Council, so she must be doing something right.

I mostly feel sorry for people who wouldn’t dream of experiencing Montana without all the Byzantine pampering. Once in their lives, such people should try waking up on the banks of a Montana river with nothing but the river to appreciate. It might change their lives.

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