Whenever I tell my mom I’m planning a summer trip to Montana, she brings up the pontoon.
“Bob and Penny have a pontoon. Maybe we’ll get to go out on their pontoon. Last weekend we had such a great time cruising around Flathead Lake on their pontoon.”
The pontoon has become almost an enigma for me, like a double rainbow. The mere mention of it serves as a delicious enticement to venture out West, one more temptation to consider as I make summer vacation plans….even though I have no clue what a pontoon is.
After hearing about the pontoon for several years now, I finally asked Jake.
“It’s a large barge affixed to two long flotation devices,” he said.
“I see,” I said, not liking this word ‘barge’ and ‘flotation device’ together. I conjured an image of Huck Finn pushing himself down the Mississippi with a 30 foot stick standing atop ten boards lashed together with twine. “Why not just get a boat?”
“It is a boat,” he said. “A party boat.”
I failed to see how anything resembling a barge could be the site of anything resembling a party….except a drowning party, maybe.
I’ve come close to boarding the pontoon a few times, but Montana in the summer is the kind of place where you’ll get all dressed up in your bathing suit, floppy hat and sunscreen, head down to the dock to be picked up in the pontoon and it will snow six inches.
“Well, guess we’ll try again next time!” Mom will say brightly.
And by “next time” she means “next year” because the boating season in Montana is about four days. I swear, making it onto a pontoon in Montana is like tackling a leprechaun–the stuff of dreams.
But the stars lined up for me at last because just a few short weeks ago I finally made it onto the pontoon!
I get it now…the pontoon is a party boat. It’s basically a wide cruising vessel designed to go really slow so passengers can sit back, relax, soak up the rays, listen to tunes pumped through the pontoon’s sound system (these things are more luxurious than I expected) and enjoy a delicious Cuba Libre, mixed by Captain Bob.
You can’t engage in any water sports in a pontoon except for jumping into the lake for a swim when you get too hot. It’s only function is for cruising, floating, and drinking. (Jake alerted me to a recent song by Little Big Town called “Pontoon” that basically sums up the mood of these things.) It chugs along at about five miles an hour making it too slow for skiing. It’s equipped with about 100 hundred slots for holding beer cans. There is ample space to stash a cooler loaded with goodies.
Cruisin in the pontoon: One more thing to cross off the bucket list.