After our amazing visit to Yellowstone, we headed to Bozeman, Montana. When I remember our time there, I’ll think of how cool and friendly the town was, and how much noise there was at our campground! On the plus side, we were only a mile from downtown – an easy bike ride. The campground hosts were the friendliest we’ve ever met, treating us like family from the moment we arrived. They had a huge DVD library to borrow from for free, and a help-yourself bookshelf. The problem was, it was bordered by route 90 on one side and a very active train track on the other – with two un-gated crossings within a 1/2 mile. All day and night, the train horns blared. We couldn’t believe how loud they were. I couldn’t sit outside without ear plugs due to the highway noise. So, nothing’s perfect!
Bozeman was larger than I thought with a vibrant downtown full of funky shops. The main Montana State University campus is there too, and plenty of like-minded granola types. The town is surrounded by gorgeous peaks, and has plenty of hiking and biking trails nearby. There are a bunch of restaurants with outdoor seating, and we enjoyed breakfast outside at “The Western” on a warm weekend morning. This is the first place that we actually talked about whether it would make sense to buy a piece of land.
About a half hour south of town, up into the mountains, is Hyalite Reservoir. I was still in pursuit of a new kayak since my old one was in the truck that got stolen, so we went there several times to try out some boats. After determining the rental boats were not exactly what I wanted, searching online and not finding anything I DID want anywhere close by, we finally went to REI and just bought one off the floor. It’s your basic rec kayak (Elie Sound 100) and will do the job.
One thing we’ve learned about this area is that the weather changes in a flash (literally). A bright, sunny day can turn into a thunderstorm in a few minutes. Those afternoon thunderstorms also brought the largest hail I’ve ever been in. Fortunately it didn’t dent the truck, but we were worried! Check out this video:
We did a fun bike ride on an old fire road called the Bozeman Creek Trail. It runs through a canyon along a stream for many miles. It’s a long, slow grade up, and a fun ride back down. The next week, a mountain biker on that same trail came around a corner and encountered a moose with her baby, and the moose attacked him! Gotta love the wilderness.
With all the big, open spaces, we figured there would be some nice dirt biking opportunities. One Saturday, we rented a couple of bikes and went to Pipestone OHV Area. There were lots of trails, but they weren’t marked in terms of difficulty. I took a couple of spills, once into a cactus patch, before we found the easier roads. These led up to a cool geological feature called “Singing Rocks”. If you tap the rocks with a hammer they each make their own bell sound. We had lunch there, and enjoyed hearing people come and go, making the rocks sing. The scenery was gorgeous. On the way down, we had to cut across a more intermediate trail, which was actually really fun with whoop-ti-do’s and berms. We didn’t get a lot of pictures from that ride because we were too busy holding on! Later, Jeff had to spend some time pulling cactus spines off of me. I was still finding them 3 days later at work!
One of the best times was an evening we went to Pray, Montana, to the Chico hot springs. We were still close enough to Yellowstone to benefit from geothermal activity. Chico has a resort built around the hot spring including a hotel, restaurant, bar and two different pools. One is very hot – like a hot tub, and the other is comfortably warm. We spent a fun few hours soaking, playing, and sampling the local IPAs. Due to how far north and west we are, it stays light well into the evening. Even though the temperature was in the 50s, we were comfortable hanging out in the pool due to the warm water. There are no chemicals needed because it is constantly draining and refilling, and they empty and pressure spray it each night.
A young lady Jeff knew from Mountain Creek Ski Patrol is attending MSU. We had her, Saige, and her boyfriend Matt (another Creek patroller) over for dinner one night. We also individually went kayaking with Saige a couple of times on the reservoir, and she cooked Jeff dinner one night while I was gone. So fun to meet up with friends and relatives wherever we are!