by Dawne Belloise
“Yeah, we were the ones who ran around town causing havoc or living at the ski area,” Tanner grins of his childhood. His dad is Bobby Gordon and Tanner recalls riding up the mountain with his Mountain Express driver mom, Dayna Christy. “If she had the early shift, she’d drop me off at the base area to hang with Nicholas Mikeska, whose parents owned the Brown Lab, then we’d ride back down and walk to school from Clark’s.” He graduated from CBCS in 2011 and attended Montana State University in Bozeman for Medical Microbiology.
He decided to instead get an Associate Degree because he felt his calling was as a First Responder EMT in the Fire Service. Tanner worked as a wildland firefighter for a few years before moving into structure fire, and then was hired by a fire department in Missoula in 2016. Four years later, he moved to the Miles City Mountain Fire Rescue, where his wife Sarah Rice is from.
Tanner paints a vivid picture of the landscape diversity of Montana in the move to Miles City that took them from the western side of the state to the eastern side. “From the mountains to the prairie, the edge of the Badlands. It’s super pretty. It’s not what I’m used to at all, but I really like it out here. It’s much more Western, when you think of the wild west, the rolling hills and mini plateaus. We’re only like 3,000 feet in elevation. You can see forever out here. It’s the side of the state that earned Montana the Big Sky Country designation.”
Tanner still refers to CB as going back home but, he laughs, “When I’m in CB, Miles City is going back home. But CB will always be that special place. There’s nothing quite like driving into that valley and seeing Red Lady and all the mountains.” He says he and his wife considered returning to CB and raising their family, “but it’s just not financially feasible anymore,” he laments. His daughter Kinzly is 9 years old and lives in Kalispell but visits summers and holidays. His newest angel, Ophelia, was born in October 2022. “The fact that just a building lot in CB South is right around $300,000 is insane. It’s much more than my house here. It saddens me. I keep hearing about friends having to move out or restaurants closing. Locals can’t afford to live in CB anymore. It’s not the ski bum town like it used to be, it doesn’t have the cozy CB feeling it used to have. It feels more like Aspen or Telluride, a more uppity feeling to it.”
Tanner says that it feels more like home where he is now. “It has a similar feeling to Gunnison with a huge ranching community, 3,200 square miles, mostly cattle and farming. We have the Bucking Horse Sale, which is similar to Cattlemen’s Days. They sell broncos and it’s the country’s largest bronc auction. They shut down Main Street, allow open containers and Thursday through Sunday there are rodeos and parties.”
Tanner noted that his connection to nature is still strong in Miles City. “I still enjoy hiking, hunting and just being out in nature.” He also says his go-with-the-flow CB way of life has carried over with him, “The carefree attitude that you develop growing up in CB is like, it’ll work out, whatever happens will happen.” He also feels, “We’re unique in that CB vibe, those of us who’ve grown up together can always pick each other out in a crowd anywhere. I call it the CB steeze, a skier term I learned when I was in high school. You always seem to find other Buttians wherever you go.”