Monday, November 5, 2007

11/05/07 Bozeman, MT

When we arrived in Bozeman, we were looking forward to some "big city" life and activities. Bozeman is a lovely town of 29,000 people, the 5th largest in Montana, and about 90 miles north of West Yellowstone.

The first day we were there, Sarah and I relaxed from the previous days driving at the Bozeman Hot Springs. The nine mineral hot spring pools are heated between 59 and 106 degrees by a geothermal well. We were like Goldilocks -- the hottest pool was too hot; the coldest pool was too cool; and the rest were just right. We loved the feeling of the water on our skin, especially in the two waterfalls. The pools were chlorine-free, but the minerals still made our eyes red. We enjoyed soaking very much and planned to come back many times, but our days in Bozeman were too full and we only went that once.

Sarah's days as a vegetarian came to an end one night as I was cooking B-B-Q Chicken for Dave and I and she was served a tofu stirfry. She decided that she would eat a limited amount of chicken and fish. We all realized at the same time that now she could go back to eating sushi.

Small problem, we hadn't seen a sushi restarant since Portland, so we were all very excited to go out to "Dave's Sushi" in Bozeman. We sat at a table and my back was to the sushi bar. Sarah commented a couple times that "this isn't like the sushi bars at home." I assumed she was referring to the eclectic group of students from Montana State University with their goofy hats and six layers of clothing. Finally I turned around to see what she was looking at -- there wasn't a single Asian working behind the bar or anywhere in the restaurant -- one of the guys making the sushi had dreadlocks. After we got over the shock, we had a great meal. I guess it really doesn't matter who makes the nigiri-sushi!

Afterwards we went to Barnes and Noble. Right next to the book store was a movie theater playing "Across the Universe" which Sarah really wanted to see. We checked, the next showing started in four minutes. Dave decided to hang out at the book store; Sarah and I quickly bought tickets and hurried to our seats.

The movie was a romantic musical without much plot set in the late 1960's told through Beatles songs. Sarah loved everything about it: the love story, Jude - the cute male lead, the choregraphy, the goofy way they made the story fit the music (yes, Prudence did come in through the bathroom window), and the history of the era (the Detroit Riots, Vietnam and the draft, hippies, summer of love, artists and muscicians making a go of it in Greenwich Village, and anti-war protests). There were surprise guest appearances by Bono and Joe Cocker -- but I didn't believe it was them until we saw the credits.

It was a very happy movie and we left humming the Beatles music. Imagine our thrill when we went to Barnes and Noble to get Dave and managed to get the very last CD of the music. The woman behind us was very disappointed... Sarah is very much looking forward to seeing the movie again.

Marc Zimmerman and I have discussed teaching 20th century history through music. Watching Sarah's fascination with Don McLean's "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" and this movie, I think it is an idea that I need to bring to reality. It's time to start brainstorming about music, movies and history. Did you know that Sarah is writing music lyrics set to a friend's music? She's very private about it, but the little she has let me see has been very impressive.

On Halloween Sarah and I went to a lecture at Montana State University "Witch's Brew: A Brief History of Plant Medicine." The speaker discussed the myth of the scary mean old witch, plant medicine history, and the power of local Montana plants for healing. Healing with plants is a theme in Dave and Sarah's role-playing adventure game, Runescape, that they like to play on the computer so it was very interesting.

I looked for things to do for Halloween for days. In previous years Bozeman had multiple haunted houses, but this year none. I could find plenty of college parties and little kid events, but nothing in between. I had given up, gone to the store to buy cookie making stuff for that evening and when I came back there was an emailed invitation from a unschooling family with three teens and three younger children in Livingston around 40 minutes away.

We went to the Bates' home for dinner and then to their church. Dave and Sarah helped their teens run the game booths. Then the kids went trunk-or-treating in the church parking lot. It is too cold to trick-or-treat house-to-house in Montana, so the parents decorate and light their trunks, set up pumpkins, etc. and then the kids go from trunk-to-trunk in the parking lot.

We were fortunate to spend Shabbat with the Sharber family in Bozeman. Many thanks to the local Chabad Rabbi Chaim Bruk for setting it up for us. Rabbi Bruk is the only full-time rabbi in Montana. I found him by searching on "Montana" and "Jewish" on the internet. I love the quote in the local newspaper from him, "We're the Jewish Peace Corp and this is the 'No Jew Left Behind' program."

Robin and her daughter made the three of us very welcome in their lovely home not far from where we were staying in the RV. Too bad it was Shabbat, I would have loved to have taken pictures of their picturesque red barn, beautiful home, horses and german sheperd Belle. The meal was fantastic. When Dave saw the beef roast come out of the kitchen, I thought he was going to hug Robin. We haven't had such a lovely meal since we left on the trip. It was great fun to hear about procuring kosher meat in Montana and learning about her gourmet carmel business. The teens laughed and laughed while they played cards -- it was like music. It was sad to have the evening end, but we were all tired from a long week with late nights.

The next morning Sarah and I went to study at the Rabbi's home (not enough men for a regular minyan and service), but a well-attended and interesting study session. Sarah was still worn out and we spent a quiet afternoon back at the RV.

Dave was with Stan Bates and his older sons going deer hunting. They met up with another family and went to the shooting range and then out to hunt. Dave had an interesting and enjoyable day even though his group didn't catch a deer. The other family was hunting for deer to be used at the local food shelter, and they brought in four deer. Dave was lucky to be introduced to the sport by Stan -- his hunting philosophy and ethics made it a valuable day in Dave's life.

The next morning Dave and I got up early to volunteer at a Big Brother/Big Sister fundraising event called "Bowl ... for Kids' Sake." We were charged with handing out the t-shirts for the different teams of bowlers. Dave helped me sort hundrends of t-shirts by size and moved around the heavy boxes. We met nice people and it was fun to hang out in the bowling alley. Dave enjoyed the free pizza and unlimited soda.

When we got back to the RV, Sarah was feeling better so we headed off to the Museum of the Rockies. Montana and Wyoming are famous for their dinosaur digs and the museum was top notch. Unfortunately, my camera batteries gave out and there are only a few pictures. Two of them are a model of a giant jurassic sauropod that lived in the sea and the actual fossil. Another favorite was the clutches of dinosaur eggs. There are no pictures of the terrific exhibit "Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats." Did you know that bats actually have good vision? Some hibernate, they live in trees, bridges and under eaves in buildings, pollinate like bees, eat fruit, and some eat as many of 1,000 insects a day!

We also went to the museum's Taylor Planetarium production of "The Skywatchers" about mankind's fascination with the sky. The show started with the pyramids and Stonehenge and humans efforts to understand the sky, the invention of the telescope, the Hubble Space telescope and concluded with current thoughts about the universe.

On the last day, we joined the Bates' family in Livingston for Boffer Wars with local homeschoolers. The kids make weapons based on middle ages swords and shields from pvc pipe, foam and duct tape and then play games like "capture the flag" while whacking the heck out of one another. They played in the local heated gymnasium until they were all worn out. At the end there were plenty of hugs all around. It was a great way to end our stay before we moved on to Billings, Montana that night.

1 comment:

gypsy mama said...

hi Maryann, we are in Bozeman now, i really enjoyed your blog, and we plan to follow in your footsteps on several activities.