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Grand Western Conference II Report

Originally written at 10:00am (give or take), now re-edited for completeness and to include promised photos.

Well, I’m back. We got in late last night. I’m currently guzzling coffee to try and keep awake while I catch up on four days of emails and whatnot.

We had a great time. While the conference itself was dubiously useful, the people we met and the fun we had was well worth the trip.

First, how we got there: my friend Fran (his blog is at this link) was invited to the Grand Western Conference last year (GWC) and was again invited this year (GWCII). He in turn invited myself and our mutual friend Dale. So all three of us piled into Fran’s pickup truck and drove up to Montana with our camping gear… I should probably mention that we’re all over 250 pounds each… Big guys crammed into a pickup. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I guess. We could have tried to pile into MY truck, which is about 1/2 the size. :)

We stopped the first night in Ennis, MT, and found a fishing tackle/guide/outfitter with camping spaces on his property. We got fishing licenses and stayed there for the night. It was COLD!

We then continued on to Three Forks and the conference.

If you’re ever in Three Forks, MT, I highly suggest you spend some time in the Sacajawea Hotel bar (hotel pictured to left) and say “hi” to Mary, the bartender. She’s hilarious. Make sure to mention that Aaron from Utah told you about the bar-rag chicken and ask her to show it to you. It’s hilarious.

Three Forks is a cool town – no stop lights, one cop (very nice), and generally nice people all around. We invaded the town with a group of about 75 people (probably doubling the town’s population:). Events were held in a building directly across from the hotel.

Many of the panels were pretty lame. For instance, the panel about “real estate” and finding a place to live (officially titled “Jobs, Business, and Real Estate”) was heavily inundated by pro-Montana (vs. pro-Wyoming) people and was chaired by a real estate broker who obviously had a conflict of interest… It sounded more like a sales pitch than it did a free state west panel.

There were a couple of incidences like this that were a little disconcerting (lots of people running for office spoke as well). However, the networking and meet-and-greet aspects of it were well worth the trip.

There were freedom-minded people from all over: Canada, Illinois, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, California… Pretty great to meet all of these people. We did some great socializing, discussing common interests, and drinking… :)

As an added bonus, especially since we were skunked fishing, the town had their annual wild mustang drive through downtown Three Forks! This was pretty cool. A couple hundred head of horses were driven through town, escorted by cowboys, the town cop, etc. Aweful cool. I was going to include video of this, but the video inadvertently caught faces of some people who probably don’t want themselves posted on the ‘Net. Oh well. Here’s a photo at any rate.

On whole, the conference itself was kind of a waste of time. Nothing new was really talked about there and I’m sorry, but a room full of libertarians will never come to agreement on anything without hours of argument over where commas, semicolons, quotations, etc. need to be. Luckily, this conference had a fair share of “doers,” something unusual in a group of libertarians (who are usually just thinkers with no action).

Despite the lame setup, it was worth going anyway. The people that were there and the great interaction (especially between panels, over lunch, and in the evenings) made it worth going. Lots of great people with awesome ideas. Most of us seemed to agree that Wyoming was the place to go (thanks to Boston T. Party‘s thorough research and arguments).

Some quick highlights of the event:

** The initial confusion about check-ins, conference fees, etc. on Friday afternoon. We had been told registration began at noon. It started at 7:00 pm, though they were late with that as well. Whoda thunk?

** General fun and comraderie as people began to talk to one another and learn who we are and what we’re about. By the way, Montana has good beer.

** The horse drive on Saturday.

** J.J. Johnson’s standing up of the event, thus leaving a wide-open door for ignoring a couple of hours of the event (since their ad-hoc replacement was a “discussion” of what the free state west’s “slogan” should be…libertarians {rolling eyes}…I suggested “Freedom, not Free Shit”). Most of the dweebs stayed inside to discuss this while the rest of us went out and had a good time socializing and (of course) drinking.

** Mary the bartender and her great attitude and fun nature. She made the bar fun despite the fact that they didn’t serve hard alcohol.

** The Booze Hounds – a band that played at the event Saturday night. Pretty good stuff considering how new they are. They made me forget about the asshole government apologist I’d argued with in another bar in town earlier (causing me to lose my hard-earned buzz, that SOB).

** One of the attendee’s home brew. Some of the best beer I’ve ever had!

** The final event where we all broke into discussion groups by state of choice: Montana or Wyoming. Over 80% of the room was at the Wyoming table. HA!

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To link to this article directly, use the URL “http://www.militantlibertarian.org/#GWCIIreport”

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