Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bozeman, Montana

July 28 - August 1, 2015:

Yellowstone was great, but the crowds and traffic are too much for me, I’m ready to get out of town !  I think I’ve seen enough geysers, mud pots, steam vents and hot springs for quite a while too.  Twinkles left ahead of me as I had to return to West Yellowstone to a dump station and to fuel up.  The trip to Bozeman takes us north on route 191 along the Gallatin River, it is so beautiful.  There were fly fishermen all along the route with guide services, fishing outfitters, horses and dude ranches everywhere.  In the high mountain areas there was snow yesterday on July 27th, pretty unusual.

The Gallatin River

We arrive in Bozeman about noon at the Sunrise Campground which is a mile from downtown.  We are living it up here in a full hookup campsite.  It is a nice park but rather close to noisy I-90 and the railroad, but that usually doesn’t bother us.  

Bozeman is a college town, Montana State University, and has a great Main Street area.  We take a walking tour, Twinkles finds the quilt store, then a huge bookstore and a nice coffee shop.  Lots of outdoor sports stores, fly fishing in particular is huge.  There is also much biking and in the winter skiing, it's a very active outdoor sports area.  We found the popular farmers market, bought some fresh carrots and beets, then went back downtown and had Taco's for dinner at this classic stainless RV on Main Street. You would think we would be tired of eating at an RV ?  

The Crystal Bar is a popular hang out

All the electric cabinets in town are covered
in graphics with every one different

The Ellen Theater in Bozeman is a classic

A Bozeman sidewalk view

Taco Trailer with Montana flair

Ted's Montana Grill as in Ted Turner

Interesting Revolving Horse on the
Mason's Club building

Grain elevators are all around Bozeman,
some have been converted to
other uses

The Museum of the Rockies specialty is dinosaurs and most of the exhibits come from Montana with the University here much involved.  They also had a special featured exhibit on the history of chocolate that was quite an eye opener.  Chocolate originated with the Mayan and Aztec cultures in central America where the Cocoa trees grow.  The conquering Spanish got it from the Aztecs, then took it to back to Europe where it became all the rage and became traded all over the World.
We then went outside to the “Living History Farm” which is an old settlers farm house that has been moved to the museum site and restored.  The house, buildings and attached vegetable garden were beautiful.

The Aztec used it as money with a cocoa bean traded 
for goods

Chocolate used in K-rations during WWII

Photo of early chocolate factory

T-Tex up close and personal

Great exhibits in this museum

Living History farm

I found a great music venue here in Bozeman called the “Live from the Divide”.  It is professional recording studio that has touring musicians and bands perform in an intimate room that holds about 50 people.  As you are listening to the music, everything is being recorded for replay on public radio stations.  They also have a local brewery, Bridge Brewing, supplying free beer to the patrons. Most shows are $20 at the door, it's a pretty good deal.  The band, "Guthrie Brown and the Family Tree", was promoted as an up and coming act from Nashville.  The band leader is a Montana native and there were many family and friends in the audience.  The band was fun and very good but their music did not have enough of a blues, country or rock edge for me.  I returned on Saturday for another band, Screen Door Porch, which was more my kind of music.  If in Bozeman, you must go to the Live from the Divide, it’s an incredible venue.

The Live from the Divide 

Thursday it was to the town of Livingston, Montana about 24 miles east.  Livingston is nother great downtown, that must be seen, with a strong railroad heritage.  The Northern Pacific Railroad started rail service there and laid out the town site which eventually became a railroad district maintenance shop and a gateway to Yellowstone Park.  This town has some of the best classic neon around !  The current rail Depot was opened in 1902 and is Italianate architecture.  The red and black Nomad emblem was used extensively in the design.  As passenger service ended, the Depot was closed and barely survived the wrecking ball.  The railroad wanted to tear it down, but locals objected, the building was saved, restored and converted into a wonderful museum that remains the centerpiece of the town.  The BNSF Railroad now runs frequent freight trains through town which seem to be mostly long coal trains.

View looking down Main Street to the mountains

Classic neon signs

The "Bar Fly" collection on the wall of the Murry Bar
in Livingston. A sort of a Wall of Fame for fly tying 
or is it drinking or both ?

Classic building and ghost signs

The Owl Lounge

The Northern Pacific Railroad Depot

The way to travel in the observation car
After Bertha Gonder's husband died from Black Lung
in 1915, she jumped a train with her 9 children and
moved from Kentucky to Livingston, MT.  She was one
the famous "Dirty Dozen" female engine cleaners
during the second World War.  After the war she stayed
on for 30 years and became the oldest engine wiper in the US
Alice Greenough was a champion bronc rider during the
1930 and 1940's.  She also rode bulls in Mexico and Spain.  She
had small roles in movies during those years, but quit when
they insisted that she dye her hair blond

On a sour note, we had lunch at a place in Livingston and that evening Twinkles came down with stomach pains.  I also had the absolute worst cold, tasteless Meatloaf Sandwich I've ever had.  The pizza there looked great, should have done that, anyhow they won't be getting good reviews from us.

Bozeman had a “Music on Main” event on Thursday evening in which they close off a portion of Main Street and set up a stage for a band.  The local merchants stay open late, they allow you to drink beer on the street and there are lots of restaurants and food vendors.  It was very well attended, people in Bozeman appear to be heavy drinkers, there are six breweries in Bozeman.  I thought the music was sort of weird, a Salsa Band just seemed out of place in Montana.  We mostly walked around people watching thinking the Bozeman crowd was pretty straight, not much of a alternative life style here.  We then noticed the guy with a sign representing the green coalition of gay loggers for Christ, that's pretty alternative !

Downtown view for Music on Main

I went out latter to see the “Bozeman night scene” as there was a special 50th anniversary Grateful Dead show at the Eagles Club. 
I’ve never been in an Eagles Club before and didn't think they were usually open to the public, but this one is and they are making much money doing so.  They have an old building on Main Street, which most likely had a nice old interior, but obviously sometime in the past they ripped it all out and covered it with cheap sheetrock wall panels and acoustic ceiling tiles to modernize, it's real ugly now ! 
Sorry, but the Grateful Dead tribute bands, there were several,  mostly failed to achieve the Grateful Dead sound or vibe and the mostly college age crowd didn’t know the difference or care anyhow.  Main Street Bozeman seems to be party central for the young crowd which I don’t exactly fit into any longer or care to.

The vibrant Eagles Club sign

Friday evening was the Bozeman Stampede or rodeo which was started in 2010 after an absence of many decades and is now a very up and coming event here.  Montana State has a Rodeo program and they take rodeo very serious here.  I actually love the rodeo, but I have a real hard time dealing with the hooky announcers, the goofy rodeo clowns and the general conservativeness of it all.

View from the grandstand

A fine looking ride

Action shot of the "pick up" rider herding the bronc
back into the corral

A roping contestant in action

Barrel Racer action as the sun sets

This looked bad, but the bull fighters saved the
cowboys ass

How does a huge Bull jump vertically so high ?

Classic cowboy riding form

Saturday night after the concert at “Live from the Divide”, I went to a real certifiable dive bar called the "Filling Station".  I must admit it’s a rather scary looking place with some equally scary looking people inside. There was a musician, Michael James, playing there with a Cello player who has a touring band called “My Graveyard Jaw”.  He looked pretty scary but was actually funny, articulate, played excellent guitar and violin and had a great singing voice and excellent original songs.  It almost gave me hope for this world ?

Michael James on stage at the Filling Station

Twinkles quietly celebrated her “Medicare” birthday (as she calls it) on July 31st and almost needed Medicare as she was still suffering from her lunch the other day. 

All in all, Bozeman is a great town, don't miss it.

Next stop is Butte, Montana,
Twinkles and Slick 

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