Friday, June 26, 2009

Bozeman, Montana

Montana is aptly named. It is mountains. Driving through this state is exhilarating and beautiful. It was especially scary to drive down hill around a curve next to a truck. The nice thing about this area of the country is that the truckers are courteous and move out of your way.

As it gets darker, the drive becomes even more terrifying. Uphill and downhill steep grade curves aren't my favorite in bright daylight....when I can hardly see in front of me? Yea.

So I'm getting really tired, but I'm, it seems, in the middle of nowhere. I have to pee; I have to sleep; I have to stop driving.
Imagine my delight when I see a sign for civilization. Bozeman 1 Mile.

Bahhh zuh mun? Boozemen? I decide I will pull off and pee in the first gas station.

I pass a gas station, two, three...all closed. Eff.

I drive until I find a bar. I park directly in front, parallel, on the street. I walk inside. The bar is full. It is...Thursday night? Maybe Friday. Unlike the crowd in Sioux City, this bar is full of kids my age. Furthermore, they don't appear to be hicks or squares, but kids that I would maybe be friends with.

This is the first thing I notice on my quest for a bathroom. I have to squeeze by them on my beeline to the back of the bar, where the bathroom should be.

There is plastic billowing from the ceiling of the very back, and a bare bulb illuminates the space. It feels almost cave like.....subway tunnel maybe?

A guy sitting near this instructs me to walk all the way out the back door, to where the port-a-potties are.

Three small port-a-johns labeled "men" and one large one "women." Conveniently, the women one is the only one that says "vacant."

I open the door on a dude. He is standing up and his pants are on, but his rear is toward me, so I assume he is peeing. Guys don't really have to remove much to do this. "Oh sorry!" I splurt, clearly flustered.

"Oh, no, I'm just washing my hands," he explains, quickly exiting. This seemed like a reasonable enough explanation for about 20 seconds. Washing your hands....in the port-a-potty? Hmmm.....

While I'm peeing, I notice the Purell dispenser on the wall. Ohhhh, "Washing."

On my way back in the back door and through the bar, I can't help but take in the scenery. The building is tall enough to have two stories, and all but one wall are wood, even the ceiling. The remaining wall is brick. Not that you could notice the walls, beneath all the rows of tap handles, deer heads, and collections of bras covering nearly every surface. Scattered on the floor are a million colorful straws. There is a lot to take in. I definately feel like I am in an old mining town / saloon, but with a contemporary twist (neon?). I get stuck making my way around the pool table, there is a people wall on either side. I don't try too hard to get around either, I cherish the moments to notice the details. Hanging above the pool table is a pair of granny panties so large I could fit in them fifty times over.

A pudgy kid with dark hair and dark rimmed glasses "double fisting" cups of liquid adorned with colorful straws catches my gaze. "How's it goin'?" He inquires. He explains that between 11 and 12 drinks were $1. He offers me one and I take it. Jack and Ginger? Some booze with some light colored soda. We chat for a while and I tell him a bit about my trip. I ask him for a tip on where to park my car for sleeping. He gives me elaborate instructions about a parking lot, and to park on the left hand side so I don't get towed. Soon I'm in a circle of his friends, chatting with different ones, each at a time. I talk for a while with a pretty, unskinny girl with straight dark shoulderlength hair and a warm disposition. I ask her how there are so many kids my age in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, Montana. She proudly tells me that we are in the fourth biggest city in Montana. I ask her how to pronounce the name, and she responded matter-of-factly: "BOWSmen.", with a very round "O" sound. Their group of friends is going to relocate to go to some reggae show at a bar down the street, and I oblige to go with them, on the condition that I will only stay out until 1:30. On our walk, she tells me that this is a city with a population of 20,000, but when college is in session, the population is double that. I was assuming Bozeman was a town of a population 1,000 or less. (Population now means something real to me, and I notice that when a town has a population of about 300, it is practically a ghost town).

We go into another bar. This bar is a lot of wood as well, but it is quite new and modern feeling, clean, with one of those center bars. A socially awkward kid from the group of friends approaches me and tells me that he has been listening to my conversations with everyone and that he has some questions for me. There had to have been a better way to start that conversation, but for some reason, he made himself out to be a creepo, labeling himself a "conversation leech" or something. As I am answering his questions, he stops me, apologizes, and explains that he can't possibly listen to my answers right now because he is distracted by this puppy behind me. I turn around to see a woman sitting at the bar holding a charles spaniel puppy. I reach my hand out to stroke its soft face and the woman HANDS it to me. The whole puppy. I feel like people are more trusting and friendly out here. I am in a bar, in the middle of the mountains, in the middle of the night, holding a puppy. WTF?

I later found out that the crazy old west bar is the Crystal Bar. I found some of other people's pictures. I didn't bring my camera in to pee. I suppose that was a mistake.



I can't find pictures of the inside of the second bar, but I figured out that it was Montana Ale Works, and they have a changing picture doohickey on their site. The woman with the puppy was sitting on the last seat of the left hand side of the bar, the one closest to the front of the picture.

1 comment:

Luke Bowen, Beachgoer said...

bozeman is a cool place. i stayed in 2 hotels during my trip and one of them was in bozeman.