I'm a Winner! Thanks to Instagram.
It was getting pretty late when I was leaving downtown Chicago for my hotel near the airport. The Blue Line trains to O'Hare were running infrequently so I had some time to ponder on the coincidence of Montana Tourism placing many ads on the platform at Clark & Lake urging folks to Step out of bounds and experience their Montana Moment.
You see, even though I was about to leave on my Epic Road Trip through 15 US states in just a couple of weeks, I had yet to do any planning for that. I have been very busy with my trip to Scandinavia, immediately followed by the two week long tour of European highlights with my parents, and a week and a half spent in Toronto at a travel blogger conference, including going on a blog trip to Sault Ste Marie afterwards.
Earlier that day I flew into Chicago, hung out with my friends downtown and next morning I was off to a wedding in Minneapolis. With all these things going on, not only did I not have any time to plan for the road trip - I didn't even think about it! So looking at the map in front of me, that was the first time I was actually entertaining the thoughts about what I could do on that trip.
Fast forward a few weeks and there I was in Montana!
After spending some time in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, we drove to the Little Big Horn monument and then overnighted in Billings. Next day, Google told us that we will have about a four hour drive to reach Yellowstone's north east entrance via Chief Joseph Scenic Byway better known as Dead Indian Pass.
Well, in reality, it took us over eight hours to get there because the scenery was just drop dead gorgeous along the way and we could not help but stop and take pictures again and again.
Posting one of them on Instagram, I remembered about the photos I saw on that platform in Chicago and on a whim tagged it with #MontanaMoment, entering it into Montana Tourism's picture contest.
And I won!
A few days later, @VisitMontana left a comment on the photo, letting me know and asking to contact them with my address so they could send me some goodies.
Since that was just the beginning of my road trip, I didn't actually get to check out my "prize pack" until I returned home. There were a couple of Get Lost in Montana stickers, a bag of sweet taffy and a package of Mount Helena Blend from Montana's Firetower Coffee as well as a hand-written congratulations note:
Of course, I brewed some espresso and indulging in these goodies as I write this blog post.
Thanks to Montana Tourism and Instagram! And the Blue Line for running infrequent enough to let me study the map at Clark & Lake.