A love letter to Bozeman.

Dear Bozeman, 

Thank you for showing us such a good time. In our three visits, we have made incredible memories in and around your city limits. And while sometimes you scare me- grizzly bears, hailstorms of biblical proportions, strain to my liver- all of these things make you what you are. I love you for it.

If only your winters were less harsh, I’d say we were a match made in Heaven. 

Until we meet again- Amber

I’m a crier. As I’ve mentioned, I tear up easily- happy things, sad things, random things. One thing I have a hard time with is a goodbye. Except this time. Our “Farewell, Bozeman” weekend was so fun and full of friends that THIS goodbye was marked with laughs instead of tears. And many cocktails.

Nancy, Spencer, and their daughter Sydney have lived in Bozeman for just a couple of years, but it suits them. In our three visits, John and I have fallen for the town, too. On Wednesday, we packed up the car to head to Montana, wanting just one more weekend there with our friends before they head West for a new job opportunity.

This trip was the first day-long road trip for Cholula. We had no idea how a 7 month old puppy would handle being in the car for 7 hours, but we were prepared. Food? Check. Treats of all shapes, sizes, flavors? Check. A mountain of random toys? Check. We set up a puppy oasis in the Subaru behind a dog gate, confident that she’d settle in for  a comfy nap.

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After a thorough checklist, we set off. Things looked promising at first.

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You know where this is going. Within the hour, the big baby ended up in Mama’s lap, where she promptly fell asleep for the entire drive. At least one of us was comfortable.

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The drive to Bozeman from Park City at the end of May is absolutely gorgeous. Everything is fresh and green. (Sorry, no photos- my hands were contained by 55 pounds of dog.) We arrived later than expected, but just in time for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants- Blackbird.

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Blackbird has simple Italian fare, but the wood-fired pizzas are incredible. Add the egg. If you find yourself in Bozeman, stop in- if only for the burrata crostini.

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On Thursday, the boys went fishing for most of the day. After Sydney headed off to school, Nancy and I had a relaxed morning, enjoying her lovely yard and the temporary sunshine.

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While the boys played Mountain Man all day, we ladies headed off on our version of a perfect girl date in downtown Bozeman. We had a loose plan that involved shopping at The Root (I was prepared to do some damage) and lunch at Plonk. We leisurely strolled along Main, and I tried to soak in all of the unique things that make this a fun town.

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Our shopping fix satiated and our tummies growling, we headed to Plonk. I am always impressed with this place. They advertise their wine selection, which is impressive, but the cocktail list is more intriguing to me. The food is seasonal and light, perfect for sharing. It’s housed in one of Bozeman’s old buildings, with a patchwork of brick in the walls. I wonder what this space used to be like in its past lives.

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A long stroll home and a nap added to a pretty stellar day. We rounded up Sydney and met the boys for dinner later at a place we’d never been called Over the Tapas. I just love the idea of small plates because you get to try more things. The food was scrumptious, and the sign over the bar tells me that someone was paying attention in Kindergarten.

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But my favorite part? Dessert. Shocking, I know- but say the words ‘cinnamon’ and ‘donut’ to me in the same sentence, and it’s a no-brainer. We added a new favorite restaurant to our Bozeman Love List.

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Friday was Spencer’s last day of work, an emotional roller coaster that could only be soothed with a party. John, Nancy and I had a leisurely day of prepping for the fun, starting with brunch at The Garage (another first). A shaded patio, great menu, funky car-themed decor, and mimosas. What’s not to love?

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After brunch, Nancy took us by The Filling Station, a VFW-turned-music venue on the other side of the tracks (literally). She’d seen some good bands play here. The size of the place almost guarantees a raucous show.

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There was so much to look at inside! But we had a party to prep for. Our simple menu included brats on the grill, salad, grilled veggies, various snacks, and strawberry-rhubarb crumble using the rhubarb from Nancy’s garden. This was my first time seeing how rhubarb was used so I paid extra attention.

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I’m always impressed by how easily Nancy can take a few simple ingredients and whip them into something delicious, without a recipe. Some fruit, sugar, oats and her bit of magic all mixed together and made a delicious dessert. (I was sent home with some rhubarb so stay tuned for that adventure this week!)

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While the crumble was baking and before the party got going, we were invited by a neighbor, Mark, to visit his chickens. I have a not-so-secret desire to live on a farm, and these feathered friends made me daydream for my own backyard chicken coop and farm-fresh eggs. (Cholula is on board with this plan.)

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The party was a huge success. Spencer, Nancy and Sydney have met a wonderful group of people here, and they came to celebrate their friendship and wish them well in their next adventure. And to drink many margaritas.

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We were supposed to head home on Saturday, but a slow start to the day followed by a lazy brunch was making that plan far less attractive. At the urging of our hosts, we opted to extend our Bozeman weekend another day. Nancy and Spencer’s awesome friend, Leslie, joined us at the Cat Eye Cafe. It’s one of our very favorite spots. The whole place is cat-themed, which would be a tad crazy if it wasn’t so quirky and fun.

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With the day now free, Nancy took me to a place she knew I’d love called Olivelle. The shop is filled with gourmet pastas, sauces, marinades, gifts, cookbooks… but what’s fun are all of the samples. Every infused olive oil imaginable. A rainbow of vinegars to taste. Shelves of different salts. The knowledgable staff described each thing as we tried it, and introduced a few unique combinations. I added to the pile of Bozeman goodies that I’d be toting back to Utah with a cookbook, some oils and vinegars, and salts (habanero and black truffle).

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Our time in Bozeman coming to a close, Nancy and I soaked up the afternoon sunshine on the front porch. We talked about the next chapter in their lives, and my mind was full of all of the fun we’ve managed to pack into three visits to town.

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On the drive home the next morning, John and I reflected on our spectacular weekend. We talked about how impressed we are with Nancy and Spencer, to be willing to uproot what we see as a great life and venture into the unknown. Even little Sydney is excited for what lies ahead. With an attitude like that, we agreed that whatever comes next will be awesome for them. We waved goodbye to Bozeman in our rearview mirror, knowing we’ll be back sometime soon. But what we’re excited for is the first visit to see our great friends in their new town.

And yes, the dog sat in my lap the entire way home.

21 replies »

  1. As always….amazing! Yep, Bozeman is on my list to visit! Your descriptions have made this town even more intriguing. Great pics, as usual. Let’s see…first, you guys are too cute…and with Cholula peeking around your shoulder in the car…I couldn’t help but smile. So…I see you’re all about the farm life too! K, here’s the deal…who ever gets their “farm” and chickens first…has to gift a few chicks to get the other gal started! At least I know I’m not the only crazy one now…as everyone often likes to remind me when I begin to ramble on about “my farm” and what it will encompass. Btw, let me know if you find any good rhubarb recipes:)

    • I love your comments! It makes me glad I write this blog. Bozeman is similar to Durango but a little more cowboy. I know you’d love it. Cholula didn’t stay behind my shoulder for long, the little slink. We spotted a chicken coop that would be so awesome in our backyard… I am totally on board for the chick-exchange! Or at least a visit to the other gal’s coop so we can reconnect. I also might want a little goat.
      I am halfway through an ice cream recipe using rhubarb and strawberries… stay tuned.

  2. There are so many things I want to comment on!
    1. You are going to take me with you next time right?
    2. I have ALWAYS wanted to live on a farm (I sort of did when I lived in Ireland)
    3. Rhubarb is amazing. I always makes pies for my dad but like I said its expensive… I am going to look into growing it myself! (you should make Rhubarb jam… im salivating thinking about it!)
    4. Love the “bugs are nice” sign LOL
    and 5. anyone that knows me knows that I put vinegar on everything (Hey im irish) so I really reallly want to visit that one shop!

  3. One of my college roommates lives in Bozeman . . . but I’ve never been.

    And, now, I feel I have! It reminds me of Ft. Collins, Colorado, where my younger brother lives. Lots of cool eateries and friendly faces.

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