Trip Start Nov 10, 2009
Trip End Dec 18, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Saturday, November 21, 2009

I rose in Billings to see a half dozen deer prancing around outside my hotel.  They were foraging for food in the tall grass surrounding the edifice (didn't want to say hotel twice in the same sentence).  I got up and thought I'd do some biking at Rimrock Park.  The day was cold.  It looked like it was going to snow but, wasn't quite ready to just yet.

I squirreled my way through Billings to the park.  I weaved in and out of that park with the crazy winds blowing hard and cold.  A bike trip was not in order as I couldn't find any of the trails that supposedly existed there.

Off to Missoula I went.  I punched the coordinates in my GPS and shortly thereafter I was on Rapelje and Mont Road.  These were dirt, silt, roads with major twists and turns.  60 miles of such turns.  I saw an endless number of farm houses, like you see in those horrible Hallmark Hall of Fame shows.  They were quite picturesque and I got a few pictures.  The tough part of this trip was judging the road, the curves were hairpin at certain points and while the hills were short they were also kind of steep and curvy and came up out of nowhere.  The sky was bright with the sun reflecting off the new fallen snow and strengthened by an overcast umbrella.  I said to myself.  "This is why I have 4 wheel drive!" and every so often would punch it to see how it handles ("Check Engine" light be damned!)  Then I was passed by a pick-up that went over a couple of those quick, steep hills I was talking about.  When I made my quick descent I noticed something odd.

The pick-up was stopped and covered in black.  It was a herd of about 100 cattle.  They were walking right down the center of this street.  I was stunned and amused.  I took out my camera and started snapping.  As I snapped I inched my car a little bit further and a little bit further.  When these beasts were right upon me they offered me a knowing look.  It was as if to say "stop inching forward so we know it's cool to walk around you, we've done this before, if you inch forward some more it will change our perspectives and possibly the texture of your car"  I stopped and they roamed right around my car, just inches away giving me an eye as they passed by. 

Another 30 miles later I came across some Longhorns.  I popped out of my car and started taking some pictures.  These big fellows were not happy with my incursion.  They made it quite clear that they wanted none of this. The livestock looked up from their chud and locked eyes on me.  Then they purposefully walked towards me and let our some loud "mooooo"s.  I took more pics and some video and ditched. 

I got onto some more refined road and continued onto Bozeman.  I got some gas and looked over my car.  It was muddy, muddy like you see cars in those coracles.  You know the ones where they take the cars out and go 4 wheeling all weekend with absolutely no negative impact to their cars just a wild feeling that they are free and wear interestingly worn hats and say "Yee, Haw" a lot.

I arrived in Bozeman in the late afternoon.  The sun was going down on this big quaint town.  I took a walk down Main Street and ended up at The Bozeman Angler.  I decided to get my brother, a big outdoorsman, something from this place but, lo, aside from it being on the water and involving a hook, line and pole, I know nothing about fishing.  Instead I looked for T-Shirts he might like.  My brother likes a T with a small logo or something on the upper left hand side and some big old graphic on the back.  This is what he strongly prefers though he might deny this to no end

I saw no suitable T's and not knowing a thing about outfitting I gave up on this quest but, had a nice chat with Paul, the store-keep. 

Paul is sadly from Michigan (I'm not a big fan of that state) and is a guide for the store which has an affiliation with Sims a major name in the fish-game.  Since I knew nothing about fishing we talked football where I flabbergasted him with my knowledge of Detroit Lions football history and the finer points of how the U of M sucks right now and why Drew Stanton isn't going to make it as an NFL QB even though he should.

This chat confirmed for myself that I once was a smart talker and a fine salesman back in the mid to late 00s and that this nice fellow was not.  I gave him ample opportunities to sell me something, anything he took none.  What did I expect he was from Michigan.  He did wax poetic about the gas explosion that happened back in March.  Paul was getting ready for a morning workout when the place a couple of blocks down the road went kablewie.  The gym walls shimmered from the force and many shops had their windows shattered, earthquake style.  This was a big deal in the town.  National news, I was told.  I knew none of  it.

Bozeman is quaint and it is where I begin to see the embodiment of old time western ideals.  In sweaters, hats and all manner of apparel. 

The HomePage Cafe is where I go for a ridiculously delicious salad (I had "The HomePage House Salad).  This is where the hipsters hang.  The coffee was unreal.  I had the Caramel Nut Mocha which had tiny slices of almonds in it. 

I had a nice chat with the "British Guitarist Thin" barrista.  He was wearing an Amoeba Records shirt.  Amoeba is a world re known record shop out in San Francisco and possibly other places in the west.  It is possibly the largest and most diverse shop that I've ever set foot in.  He is visibly excited by this shop and tells me that he has blown full paychecks in there.  I say "wow".  I love some music but, haven't done that since my part-time high school job days.  Because once you've bought the music, now you have to listen to it and that takes time.  It takes at least three listens to establish a relationship with a record and then at least a dozen more listens to truly appreciate it.  That my friends is a significant time investment.  A wise one, but, a significant one indeed.

The Montana State Bobcats are playing the Montana Grizzlies.  The Grizzlies win decidedly, I'm not at the game but, it does snow before and during the contest which always makes for a better football game.

At about 4:15 pm, the game is over.  The strange thing is none of the fans are fighting with each other or screaming insanely in downtown.  In fact, I don't even see any of the fans.  Some are at the motel I'm staying at but, they are politely quiet. Downtown was dead.  This is why I see a fundamental difference in my concept of a city and many cities of the spread out west.  They aren't so much cities as they are big towns.  They have their hot-spots, uniqueness, great food but, they are too spread out and sparsely populated to be real cities even if their name says so.

I have a nice rest, and get up looking for some Missoula!

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