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Adventures in Bozeman

That's the last time I do it ...
til I do it again

Last week I took a road trip by myself to Bozeman. The ten hour drive each way, the three night stay, the days there—all solo. Quality introvert time in a place I'd never been to before and where I knew nobody.

Why?

So I accidentally missed all three of Will Hoge's sets on this year's rock boat. When I got off the boat and realized this, I was upset to say the least. Hoge is one of my favourite songwriters of all time and his latest album, Small Town Dreams, may be my favourite of all his albums. When I saw that he was playing a show in Bozeman, I thought, "Well that's kinda close." I google mapped Saskatoon to Bozeman (about 10 hours) and instantly decided to do it—alone. I didn't even ask any of my local friends because I pretty much knew the answer. I'm crazy, I know. Travelling long distances once in awhile to see a show or two I really want to see is one thing I probably won't ever give up.

 

On the road

June 1. I packed up my little car and hit the road at 6:40 am, somehow wide awake. The next 11 hours went like this: coffee, gas, border, bathroom stop in some small American town, another bathroom stop on the side of the road, wardrobe change/photoshoot on the side of the road, absurd amount of mosquito bites in the five minutes I was parked on the side of the road and then being a spaz about said bites for 15 minutes until another distraction, more gas, and a few sing along sessions to some of the ridiculous music without another human judging me for how dumb I sounded.

I truly like road tripping alone.

Another bathroom stop in another small American town, another photoshoot on the side of the road, and a missed turn to enter the interstate.

I quickly corrected the missed turn when I realized the interstate was right beside me but I was indeed not on the road to get on it ... nothing a quick U-turn in the middle of the road can't fix though.

And then just like that, after some winding mountainous, it was 6 pm and I was in Bozeman. After I checked in at my airbnb, I headed to main street to find something delicious.

 

I tried something new

I was pretty hungry so I didn't spend much time looking and was decisive—this Asian cuisine will do. My server told me the specials and I kind of listened but it had been a long day. I heard bison something or other and it sounded good so without much thought, I ordered it. I didn't really know what I had just ordered. This bison dish came with grilled veggies, a side of rice, and mushrooms.

I hate mushrooms. Or do I? This plate of food looked really good though and I was hungry.

How bad can they be?

I ate it ... I enjoyed it. For my entire life up until this point I thought I hated mushrooms but it turns out that I don't! Hilarious. 

Try new food sometimes—you might find something you like that you always told yourself you hated. Humans do strange things sometimes.

 

Dessert...  I'm not a fan of desserts at most Asian restaurants so I wandered off to find something else on Main Street.  The Chocolate Moose . Yes. Yes, this is what I wanted. Left the store with a bag of gourmet chocolate in hand, happy as a horse, and drove around Bozeman aimlessly for a bit...learning the town...looking around...getting my whereabouts.

Dessert...

I'm not a fan of desserts at most Asian restaurants so I wandered off to find something else on Main Street. The Chocolate Moose. Yes. Yes, this is what I wanted. Left the store with a bag of gourmet chocolate in hand, happy as a horse, and drove around Bozeman aimlessly for a bit...learning the town...looking around...getting my whereabouts.

The road to my airbnb house with a speed limit of 20 miles...although it should have been 40.

The road to my airbnb house with a speed limit of 20 miles...although it should have been 40.

I woke up way too early the next morning considering this was a vacation so I took a moment to drink my coffee from the porch of my airbnb house. It was a decent view.

I woke up way too early the next morning considering this was a vacation so I took a moment to drink my coffee from the porch of my airbnb house. It was a decent view.

The fanciest monte cristo at  Feed Cafe : bacon, egg, muenster cheese, strawberry sriracha jam on challah bread.  Also, the best breakfast sandwich I've ever had.

The fanciest monte cristo at Feed Cafe: bacon, egg, muenster cheese, strawberry sriracha jam on challah bread.

Also, the best breakfast sandwich I've ever had.

A little stand up paddle boarding on this super calm lake for a solid morning activity.

A little stand up paddle boarding on this super calm lake for a solid morning activity.

About to eat the coconut ice cream that started a beautiful friendship with  Victory Taco  that weekend.

About to eat the coconut ice cream that started a beautiful friendship with Victory Taco that weekend.

Live from the divide

Show time. At one of the smallest music venues ever. 

A few days prior, it dawned on me that I had never seen Will Hoge not on a boat. This show did not disappoint for being my first official not-at-sea show (not that rock boat shows don't count, because they absolutely do). 

The 1950s microphone ended up being the subject of some classic Will Hoge between-song storytelling.

The 1950s microphone ended up being the subject of some classic Will Hoge between-song storytelling.

Growing up around here in this taillight town
I spent 17 years trying to find a way out
Took a whole lot of miles to know what i know now
I'm kind of proud of growing up around here

(Growing Up Around Here)

This is the first track off the new album, and he played it at this show. I actually never realized until this night how much I relate to it. I grew up in Saskatchewan. I spent 18 years there. I live in Saskatoon now but it mostly just feels like a bigger version of that small town. I've put in enough miles to know that while Saskatchewan is a tiny little place in the world and not all that great, it's still sort of a special place that I'll always call home.

This show was neat. Like a group of friends sitting around having some good conversations (songs and stories that inspired songs). It had been 3.5 years since I had seen a Will Hoge show and it reminded me how good of a songwriter/storyteller he is; how much I crave good stories told by people who are good at telling them.

Great stories happen to people
who can tell them.
—Ira Glass

National donut day.

I love any excuse to eat donuts so naturally, I celebrated. Imagine my excitement when I found a local donut shop, Granny's Gourmet Donuts, in Bozeman. After a bit of a struggle, I finally got my hands on one single donut.

One single donut was not a choice, but due to the popularity of national donut day, I took what I could get.

Victorious lunch 

I was still pretty full from breakfast and that one donut but I was about to go ziplining for a few hours so I figured I'd better eat something that could be classified as lunch ... what better time to try one little taco (The Fin) from Victory Taco.

A perfect little snack for lunch.

A perfect little snack for lunch.

Great minds think alike, I guess.

Will Hoge was also at Victory Taco. I sat down and ate lunch (delicious tacos and fresh guacamole, specifically) with one of my favourite songwriters and had a normal conversation about things (life, fitness, food, music, work, Bozeman...) for about an hour. This kind of thing doesn't happen every day and it was great.

Eventually I had to hit the wilderness (just 30-40 minutes from downtown) and he, of course, had to go write some songs so we respectively carried on with our days. 

Zip

I've wanted to go ziplining for ages but none of my friends ever want to so when I read in a brochure at my airbnb that this company offered an excursion, I went online and booked it instantly. Making quick decisions is one of the many perks of traveling alone.

It was a pretty low key couple hours in the sun of zipping across the trees, leaning off the platforms, climbing some ladders, and crossing some wobbly bridges. Two instructors, one instructor in training, a family of three (mom, dad, adventurous son), and me. 

One of the easier bridges.   Sticking your tongue out helps concentration.

One of the easier bridges.

Sticking your tongue out helps concentration.

Hanging out.

Hanging out.

Last night

I got back downtown around 6 pm. I didn't have a ton of time before another Will Hoge show so I grabbed a quick bite at my usual...

Of course I went back to  Victory Taco  for two tacos this time (The Bird, Kim Jong). Both solid choices.

Of course I went back to Victory Taco for two tacos this time (The Bird, Kim Jong). Both solid choices.

Black as night. Always.

Black as night. Always.

After a bit of wandering (read: snapping random pictures) I made my way to The Ellen Theatre and walked inside. Nobody was in the foyer but I heard music already playing (I knew I was a bit late) so I walked into the dark auditorium and found one of the many empty seats near the front. What kind of show was this? What was happening? All I knew was Will Hoge was on the stage playing music for a very small group of people.

A few comments later and it was known that I was at somebody's birthday party. I wasn't invited unless being invited by the artist himself counts as being invited. 

He played this song. Not a new song but a recently-discovered favourite.

One more trip around the block
One more hour off the clock
One more wasted afternoon
Missing you...
Another night not worth a damn
Another day and here I am

Wishing I was through missing you...
(Through Missing You)

This song just makes me think of all of my friends that don't live in the same city as me...or in any city even close to me and those friends that I see maybe once a year, maybe once every three years. I'm truly starting to dislike missing someone or missing many all the time. I dislike wasted afternoons and nights not worth a damn. This can't be a good way to live. 

And this one. An old song and old favourite.

Be strong in this great big world
(Baby Girl)

This show wasn't part of my original plan but sometimes you know when you're supposed to be somewhere and this was one of those times. I knew there was a reason why I was in Bozeman alone, why I ran into Will Hoge at a food truck, and why I got invited to this stranger's birthday party. 

I just don't know that reason yet.

Early departure

6:30 am Saturday morning:

Packed up my car. Thanked my host. Checked out of my airbnb. Went back to Feed Cafe for one last meal in Bozeman. 

Panzanella: house made bread topped with kale, bacon, feta, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, egg. In other words ... salad for breakfast! So simple ... why have I never done this?   Mental note: eat salad for breakfast more often.

Panzanella: house made bread topped with kale, bacon, feta, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, egg. In other words ... salad for breakfast! So simple ... why have I never done this?

Mental note: eat salad for breakfast more often.

Home is where the heart breaks

The drive home was seeming to go pretty fast and it's probably because instead of listening to horrible music the whole way, I listened to Will Hoge's entire discography on shuffle ... and then I was back in Canada and back on the run-down southwest Saskatchewan highways. 

Somewhere just north of the border

Somewhere just north of the border

This one song came on shuffle at some point throughout the drive and it was my current mood. The shitty, cracked highways were merely a special effect.

And the wheels go 'round
and the world gets cold
and the best that I could hope for is just to die when I get old
and these four walls drive me insane
sometimes home is where the heart breaks

(Home is Where the Heart Breaks)

I played this song on repeat for longer than I want to admit. And then after a few more hours of powering through the open road, I was home.

Malary Cloke