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After tiring of 9 hour driving days, we spent 4 days and 3 night in Bozeman and Big Sky, Montana. We fell in love with both towns and met some really great people. Bozeman has a quaint historic section, great little restaurants and bars, mountain views in every direction, a major university, spectacular public spaces and running trails, and world-class hiking and camping within 30 minutes of downtown. What more could we ask for!

The first afternoon in Bozeman, we spent a little bit of time at Wild Joe’s Organic Coffee on historic Main St. We came back again and again to this spot for their awesome looseleaf tea spectacular people watching. It seemed to be a common meet-up location in town. We saw everything from groups of old cowboys sipping coffee to student-faculty advisor meetings. It also housed a self-serve bike and ski repair shop in the back. Anyone could bring in their gear and use the tools in the garage space in the back. They also advertised organized rides and workshops weekly. That evening we treated ourselves to dinner out in town. We got a recommendation for a place called Over the Tapas, and it was fantastic. Great food and great people.
That night we drove just outside of town to Gallatin National Forest for some camping. Just a little ways into the park, we pulled over to a spot in the canyon by a rushing river to set up for the night. It was COLD as the dickens, but one of the most peaceful nights we have had so far. In the morning we woke up and grilled a real cowboy breakfast, bison burgers and eggs, and headed back into town.

Tom rented a by-the-day office space on the MSU campus for Tuesday and Wednesday (check out www.loosecubes.com) so he dropped me in town. I had seen a $5 hot yoga class advertised in Wild Joe’s the day before and went to check it out. The space at Your Yoga was great and the class was really enjoyable. It was a style of practice called yin yoga, which I hadn’t heard of before. It involved the stretching of the ligaments and joints rather than the muscles. We went through a series of about 5 poses, holding each for 3-5 minutes per side. While it wasn’t particularly strenuous, it was intense! After yoga I headed to the Bozeman Community Food Coop for a post-workout kombucha and to mooch off their wifi access. For lunch, Tom and I indulged in their hot food bar and salad bar, both of which were OUTSTANDING. Better tasting, homemade, and cheaper than Whole Foods, yes, you heard that correctly.

After lunch we drove back out to Gallatin National Forest for some hiking. Tom had gotten a recommendation for the Palisade Falls Trail. It was a pretty laid back hike, but ended at a really impressive waterfall, which cascaded over a cliff formed by rock and landslides. We later found out that this is world-class ice climbing during the winter months! Tom of course, had to check out the “climb-ability” of the rock face. See if you can find him in the picture below:
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That night we tried to find a new campsite, possibly one a little warmer than the previous one that had been tucked deep in the canyon. We drove around town and picked up a few needed items at REI and Walmart. At Walmart we noticed a rather large contingent of campers and RVs parked in the far corner of the lot. We decided it might be fun to try out the infamous Walmart camping, and maybe we would meet a few fellow travelers while we were at it. For those of you who don’t know, Walmart is one of the only stores that allows RVs and campers to park overnight in their lots for free. We set up camp and cooked our dinner there, the whole night we didn’t see one other person! Apparently it’s pretty comfy-cozy in those giant RV busses and their owners didn’t feel much like socializing. Probably the last time we’ll Walmart camp unless it’s a last resort.

The next day Tom went into work again in the morning, but in the afternoon we met up with his friend Jarid’s sister, who lives in Big Sky, MT. We met Lindsie and some of her friends and their awesome kids at a playground in town and had a picnic lunch. Lindsie started a wrap shop in Big Sky with some friends, so we had to stop by and visit it. The Wrap Shack is a great little shop in downtown Big Sky with really delicious wraps, tacos, and burritos. They make all their salsas and toppings in house. We ate at the Wrap Shack and then spent the night parked outside Lindsie and her husband Brian's house.  They are former Westy owners as well! Brian has owned 3 VW buses and they just recently sold their 1976 Westy. A friend of theirs is actually the man behind the soon-to-be-released documentary “The Bus” :
Brian is also the writer of The Insiders Guide: Yellowstone Park and Grand Teton Park! We got some great advice on what to see, what to skip, and where to stay in the area, and he even gave us a copy of the book. We had a great evening sitting around their kitchen table and talking about travel stories, bear stories, and Westy stories - some stories involved all three. We had a great time and were very grateful for the showers!

Today we head to Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks for a few days. Hopefully we come back with more stories to tell.

Love from the Westy,
Lisa and Tom
Michelle Baby
9/22/2011 16:05:36

love the posts!!! what a spectacular trip!!

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    The Trimmers

    Lisa and Tom Trimmer are from Chicago, IL and traveling the country in their 1985 VW Vanagon Westfalia Campervan.

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