Oh dear oh dear oh dear I was really bad at this, wasn’t I? Well, let’s see how I do at updating now. Probably more picture heavy than before!
I think I left off after my harrowing bus stop adventure in Laramie. Let’s see. Got to Denver to transfer, watched my stress level get higher and higher as I watched the line for my next bus get longer and longer as I waited to check my bag, finally got in line, waited and waited while the bus was delayed, got annoyed at other people in line, discovered that the guy standing behind me in line had a packet of papers from what seemed to be a 6 month sex offender treatment/rehab program he was on his way home from, then finally boarded the bus just in time to watch a stunningly golden sun set behind the Rockies on the way out of the city…while simultaneously discovering I had chosen a seat near a very loud/rowdy group of adults making inappropriate jokes, one of whom had a Chihuahua service dog named Mr. Winky Winkles. I kid you not.
The pictures don’t really do it justice, but the sunset was so beautiful ohmygahhh.
The only money I had at this point was about $5 in change and 3 $1 bills, since only some ATMs work with my scratched debit card, so despite the fact that we made a few meal/bathroom stops (at which I was informed that Mr. Winky Winkles went many a “tinkle-tinkle”), I wasn’t able to get much to eat other than a very small, overly greasy egg roll…and since pretty much all I’d eaten that day was pancakes, trail mix, and a fruit leather, I wasn’t feeling too good about that situation. Needless to say, by the time we reached Billings, MT early the next morning I was very ready to find a non-finicky ATM, get money, and go buy myself a real breakfast in my 4 hour layover. Buuuuut of course when we pull into the terminal the bus driver tells us to “go directly inside, do not wait around outside-this is not a safe place to be at this time in the morning.” Okaaaaaay…odd. Come to find out there was a violent mugging right outside the bus station a half hour before we got there. And multiple other recent crimes in the area. Soooo…no wandering around town to find food after all. Between the hunger (okay, I wasn’t actually going to starve, by a long shot. But I just wanted some real food!), exhaustion (I hadn’t gotten a good night’s sleep in an actual bed in like 3 nights), and stress of bus travel and potential muggings, I was just a little cranky. And lonely. And homesick. I think the real low point came after I boarded the next bus when I actually started crying while watching the beautiful young French couple sitting adjacent to me break into a fresh, hearty baguette and top it with thick slabs of cheese and apple or nutella. It looked like heaven. And God, I wanted some.
Luckily, after that things started looking up. The scenery out the window was getting progressively more gorgeous and we stopped at a little roadside coffee shop and I got coffee and a banana (yeah caffeine and fresh food!) and there was a train going by with the mountains in the background:
(again, not good representations of what it actually looked like. But there were mountains. And big sky. And rivers and endless fields with beautiful beautiful horses and giant hay bales and those weathered barns that are so Montana. And it was wonderful.)
Then we made it to Bozeman! And I was super nervous about finding my way to and meeting my next couchsurfing host, but then I did and the free downtown area bus was really simple and I didn’t have to walk as far as I thought and it was gorgeous. And my host was fantastic! The first thing she did was give me my own key, show me to my own room with a big, wonderfully comfortable futon, and tell me I could come and go as I liked, just so long as I didn’t lose my key. Excellent! Then she gave me free rein of the kitchen and shower, told me how to get to a grocery store, and left to go to work-I had a house with internet and a bed and a kitchen and a shower in a beautiful place all to myself! Even more excellent! Then I showered and rested and walked downtown and found an ATM that worked (even if I DID have to walk to the drive-through one) and discovered a quirky little food co-op with delicious fresh food and I bought myself a SALAD and sat outside in the beautiful mountain air to eat. The most excellent!!
The view from the end of my host’s street.
From there, things continued to be pretty good in Bozeman. My host, Nakai, and I met up after she got out of work and walked downtown together for “Music on Main,” where the town shuts down a portion of Main St. for a few hours every Thursday in the summer and there’s live music, food and drink vendors, lots of people, and general gaiety. Or, as N called it, “a big drunken party on the street with some weird bands playing where everyone gets wasted during and afterwards.” I didn’t think the band was all that weird and I didn’t get wasted, but N, her boyfriend, and I did enjoyed the music for a while, ate some delicious felafel, and then ended up bar-hopping around town the rest of the night, sampling some local drinks, meeting some interesting local folks. The night ended with heart-to-heart conversations in the chilly night air on our walk home and a contented sigh as I collapsed, exhausted, into my real bed for far too short a night’s sleep before my adventure to Yellowstone the next day.