Visiting Montana, Part One

I may or may not even post this, but I wanted a place to jot down some of our travel experiences in Montana, and this seemed like the perfect, comfortable spot to put them, despite being a dormant platform for so long. So here goes…

Shall we start at the beginning?

Back in 2008 I went to the HighEdWeb Annual Conference for the very first time and it was a wonderful experience. Part of that wonderful experience was meeting Jake, and it also happened to be his first time attending HighEdWeb. We made a fast connection and have been fantastic friends ever since. We saw each other once a year at this conference for 8 years, and every time we embraced it was almost as if no time had passed at all. In addition to those 8 annual visits, Jake came out to Massachusetts back in 2013 for the very first HighEdWeb New England Regional Conference that we hosted at Mt Holyoke College. Not only did he give an an amazing presentation at that conference (I think it was even a lightning talk, actually), but he stayed at our house and became fast friends with Dick, Murry, and other folks around at the time. It’s amazing the connections that can be made in the HighEdWeb community; I am forever grateful for that, and it has changed my life in so many ways, both professionally and personally. But this post isn’t about that. I really just wanted to give some background as to how I met this amazing person I call one of my best friends.

Fast forward to 2017…

Jake is engaged to Alyson, whom I’d never met, but had heard amazing things about. They invited us to their wedding, which is scheduled to happen in Absarokee, MT on May 20, 2017. I’d been saying for ages that I would visit Jake in Montana and do ALL THE THINGS, but as you know, life happens and things don’t get planned out and put on the calendar, as usual. So when we got that wedding invitation, I knew we had to be there! We had to make it happen… and we did!

We’re here now!

We arrived in Bozeman yesterday around 1.30 p.m. mountain time. We woke up at 3 a.m. so that we could drive down to Agawam and drop off The Murbz with my mom on our way to Bradley for our 7 a.m. flight (I’m sure he’s having a wonderful spa-birdie-cation with Grandma and Yoda). A silly side-note: we were passed on the way to the airport by a douche in an Audi, only to find out that they were also going to Executive Valet, and not only did they have to wait for us, but we ended up waiting for three other parties of slow vacationers. His wife was *so* impatient that she kept doing the toe-tap and huff and puff thing. I finally asked what time their flight was… it was 5.23 and their boarding time was 5.30 with 6 a.m. take off. I *kinda* felt sorry for them, but I also wanted to lecture them about how to manage their time better so that they could stop being douchebags to other people. I wonder if they missed their flight, but I also don’t really care. Our flights were pretty uneventful, aside from some turbulence and an interesting, chatty woman from Wisconsin on our second leg. There was a conspiracy theory guy who kept talking at us at the Denver airport. He was kinda interesting, but also kinda annoying; thankfully he didn’t stay long. We had to circle around the Bozeman airport for a half our before we could land thanks to snow (yes, snow in May!), but it wasn’t a big deal. That’s about par for the course on a good plane travel day. Though I will say that we got assigned TSA-pre check, so our security line experience at BDL was far quicker than it otherwise would have been; thanks to the coders who made that random shit happen.

OK back to the important stuff…

We arrived in Bozeman and were welcomed by a beautiful airport. It’s not a huge airport, but the woodwork and detail that went into this place is pretty fantastic, and I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful geese sculptures crafted by Jim Dolan, the father of our friend Jake. You can see some photos of the geese welcoming people to Bozeman. His work is pretty amazing and I can’t wait to meet him tomorrow night. We’ll be attending a dinner at his home tomorrow. I won’t go into much detail now since we haven’t been yet, but hopefully I’ll post more about it after that experience.

So we got a rental car and drove over to our AirBnB, which is right in downtown Bozeman near all the cool places. This place is absolutely gorgeous! I would definitely stay here again, and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. Heck, even our friends Jake and Alyson said they might be interested in staying here for a night or two in the future to get away for a date, and they only live 20 minutes away. The pics on AirBnB are pretty sweet, but you can check out some of my photos of this place. I’m impressed and will be leaving a glowing review. After settling in we got some wicked good coffee at Cafe M and I’m looking forward to purchasing some of their espresso beans to take home.

We met up with Jake and Alyson here and walked in the snow a few blocks over to Toro for dinner. This was our very first time meeting Alyson, and she had had a Very. Long. Day. so we were happy to facilitate some relaxation with tequila shots and margaritas at Toro before enjoying some delicious food. Never mind the fact that she was stressed and dealing with pre-wedding details, we could tell right off the bat that she’s an amazing, beautiful person, and we couldn’t be more happy that two such admirable people had found each other.

Needless to say, dinner was super tasty, tequila shots were consumed, as well as margaritas, and spicy mezcal margaritas for me. After dinner we walked back and enjoyed some delicious hard cider at Lockhorn Hard Cider, which happens to be owned by our AirBnB hosts. The cider was so good… I had the dry, the ginger, the hopped, and the habanero. I think the hopped was my favorite, no surprise there. The sweet bartender even took a photo for us. After that we called it a night and managed to get a great night of sleep, which somewhat helped make up for what we lost the night before.

And today…

To be honest, today was pretty boring because Dick had a LOT of work stuff to handle. He’s still got more to do. It’s the story of his life that can’t really change due to certain circumstances *cough* douchebag *cough*, but it is what it is and we deal with it. Never mind the work stuff though, we had a pretty amazing breakfast at Jam and then we walked over to the Co-op to buy ingredients to make food for the party this evening. Jam was awesome. So many aspects of this downtown Bozeman area remind me of certain neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon. Mostly the restaurants and the newer apartment construction. The Co-op was also awesome… reminiscent of home. So Dick managed to get a bunch of work done while I was working on some stuffs. We were thinking of going to Montana Ale Works for lunch, but as it turns out, they don’t do lunch, so we ended up at Starky’s and had some pretty tasty food. This afternoon I managed to visit La Chatelaine for some chocolate and then do some yoga. Afterward I roasted some sweet potatoes and tossed them with some cooked chorizo, baby kale, shallots, and cilantro topped with avocado. Mostly local ingredients. I was able to cook thanks to these awesome AirBnB hosts keeping a kitchen stocked with utensils. We brought food, beer, and wine to the BBQ we were invited to at Jake’s friend’s house. They made elk burgers, which were so very delicious!

And that’s about it. Now we’re back at the homestead (or what we consider to be the homestead til Saturday), Dick is finishing up work and I’m apparently jotting down some notes so that I don’t forget all the awesomeness. I’m looking forward to, hopefully, some hiking tomorrow, as well as the dinner tomorrow night, and then the wedding on Saturday. After that, hopefully there will be more to share…

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