I arrived home Monday morning, the 23rd, after walking my grandson Alex to school in Massachusetts. There was freezing rain, and Monday’s rehearsal for MURDER STAGE RIGHT was cancelled. I face so many things I want to do, to read, to play with, but first I want to conclude this most phenomenal trip that has opened my eyes to “see the USA” not necessarily in a Chevrolet. (does that phrase date me?)
The Friday morning discussion session was cut short when the shuttle driver arrived advising that the two hour trip from Bozeman took three hours due to road conditions. We had our own rental car, but the others decided to leave to make sure to make plane connections. Scott, Betty, Rich and I stay and chatted with Lee, the instructor, for awhile, and then packed. We toured West Yellowstone a bit more, and Betty and I went into the
Holiday Inn to view the original 1903 rail car from the Oregon Short Line, so named because it was the shortest distance between Oregon and Wyoming, which is housed inside. This mini museum shows how people traveled on railroads and has all original furniture and appointments. It is fabulous. We then headed back down the one road to Bozeman to our B&B – the Voss Inn. Built in 1883 (Bozeman was first settled in 1864 and incorporated in 1883) the B&B was exceptional. Recent visitors have included Steven Seagal, Al Gore, and Buzz Aldrin. Bruce and Frankie do an exceptional job, and Bruce’s breakfasts
surpassed gourmet. On our last day there he enjoyed relating tales of both Seagal’s and Aldrin’s visits after Rich asked about the signed photos on the wall.
On Friday late afternoon once we checked in we walked the three blocks to the Main Street of Bozeman. How impressive the town is, particularly the main street which has wonderful buildings dating to the late 19th century and a fine collection of buildings with Art Deco facades. Nothing has been ruined in this town which is the 4th largest city/town in Montana with about 37,000 residents, about a third larger than my neighboring Keene. And the shops’ windows are absolutely “eye candy” with unique hand-crafted gifts, fashions, art galleries
and night spots and restaurants. Yes it helps to have a college in town, but I feel Bozeman deserves another visit someday. That evening we decided to have dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill , yes founded by Ted Turner. He has 100s of thousands of acres throughout the West, and raises Bison. Betty and I enjoyed the Bison meatloaf, and Rich had a Bison steak – Scott for some reason only had a burger. It was a busy place, and at least we can say that we were there. We returned to the Voss Inn and enjoyed conversation in the parlor.
Saturday at breakfast we had a fun time with a family from California that arrived too late to drive to their condo in Big Sky. That is one of the joys of B&Bs – sharing with total strangers who also enjoy the ambience and uniqueness of the experience. After breakfast the plan was to head to Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center 16 miles out of town in the mountains. All night a voice kept telling me not to ski because it was going to be too fast and dangerous, and I had had a wonderful time without injury – so be safe! I debated back and forth, but choose not to ski, but journeyed up the mountain with book in hand while the others enjoyed skiing. Well, I never got to a single page because in moments Betty returned exclaiming, “too fast and scary!” We sat down to talk, and in moments saw Scott and Rich returning. Ends up they too found it fast, and dangerous with inclines more than we have experienced in New England, and in addition you could not see what was around the corners other than steep drop offs. They turned in their rented skis and we headed back to town. I had read about the Gallatin County Historical Society Pioneer Museum in the old county jail built in 1911. WOW – I love museums, and this one is exceptional, and we all enjoyed it (so important when travelling with others to have the same interests). Besides retaining some of the original jail features with some cells, solitary confinement
(called Siberia) and the gallows (only used once) the historical exhibits on the development of the area and early exploration are noteworthy. So much so that I came out convinced that I will read more about Montana and will visit again this year. Just as I said the Bozeman airport is worth the visit, go to this museum too for double enjoyment of the trip – BUT, then add our dinner experience Saturday night.
Cathy and I always asked our B&B hosts, “where would you have dinner.” Well, Frankie gave me choice one and two – Looie’s Down Under or John Bozeman’s Bistro, and she had old menus there. I took a look and there was no question – Looie’s was my choice, and when I shared that with the others they agreed. We arrived and were seated at 6:30, and our treat concluded three hours later. A third reason to visit Bozeman we all agreed.
Frankie had recommended Halibut, and there was a Halibut special that Betty and I both had. Between appetizers, salad, and our main course only Rich ventured forward with desert – Baked Alaska, and here he is looking like a King as it was ceremoniously presented to him.
Just too much fun. The four of agreed the last several days that everything, absolutely everything went just perfectly with this trip and experience, and we were all sad to see it
end. Following breakfast on Sunday we walked downtown again because I saw a book on Glacier Park in the window of the news stand that I wanted to get. I actually bought 3 books as a result, not to mention 4 or 5 more at the museum on Saturday – a nice and safe addiction to have. It was then time to head to the airport for our flight.
I am almost at a loss as to what else to share. I can tell you that I will begin working on my train trip to Glacier Park in Montana because it is such as fabulous area. Scott is planning to retire later this year and he and Betty too cannot wait to head to Montana in their Airstream. I already have an invitation to fly out and join them (I said I would sleep under the trailer to not be in the way). Some other “lessons learned”: with the airlines charging for checked luggage what people carry on has caused a problem as I have never had to put something under the seat in front of me before with the overhead areas full; second, don’t get sidetracked because you may leave your book on the plane (THE LONGEST NIGHT – THE BOMBING OF LONDON, MAY 10, 1941) but I will find another copy. I spend time thinking (happens when no one to talk to), and on the flight home I realized that my life is now in equal thirds: first growing up and schooling; then my Navy career; and last bookseller following retirement from the Navy. So, what happens next when I divide my time into fourths and then fifths? I do know it will be travel for awhile, so continue to read as I cross the Atlantic, get to Northern Ireland, cross the US by train and get to Glacier National Park; and I still need Africa and South America to have been on all seven continents. Oh, too much fun. Catch you soon, thanks for travelling with me, as always, yours, RAY