Following my last post about our 10-day 2020 COVID fall trip in our old camper, Montana is where we went next. We were so close to Yellowstone, but it was not the right time to go, as the entry near where we were was closed and the detour would be too long. We have it on our list for a future trip!
First, I will be very honest, from Minnesota, this state is far! But once there, we enjoyed our time in Montana. It was like an automatic relaxation mode was turned on.
We stayed in the city of Billings, Montana, which is the 2nd largest city in Montana. We made our home base while in Montana in the camper at KOA Campground in Billings. This turned out to be great, as we did not realize this particular campground was the first KOA in the US. This KOA had mini golf available, which was neat as we got to play as a family before supper most nights. We also got to go fulfill my favorite activity when traveling: going to check out Costco, of course! No two Costcos ever carries the same things!!
Another thing we all love to do is check out the local grocery stores. We got to enjoy WinCo and Natural Grocers where I was told to buy huckleberry jam. Huckleberries are indigenous North American berries that grow wild throughout the mountainous areas of the northwestern United States and Canada, and are somewhat similar to blueberries.
Whenever we travel and head to grocery stores, we always find things we have not seen in Canada or in the USA. For those who know me, I have created a Facebook folder called: “Things I find in the USA” that I have never seen. On our first visit to the Winco, we found ground Buffalo meat, so instead of having regular hamburger meat in our Beef Stroganoff we renamed it Buffaloff!! It is now a new family favorite!!
We visited Bozeman, which is a city in southern Montana, in the Rocky Mountains. The vibe we felt once arriving was similar to being in Colorado or Vancouver, Canada. Happy smiley people, even during the crazy Covid times.
We had to stop in front of the Bozeman City sign to get a picture of it for my diehard Star Trek fan hubby, as it turns out the USS Bozeman was named in this city’s honor, as it is the hometown of Star Trek writer and producer Brannon Braga. (Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 99)).
While in Bozeman, we had lunch at a Brazilian restaurant called Five on Black which is a food chain in Montana, and for this foodie family, what a find! Quick to order meals and so delicious! Also, not too far from there, is the BEST donuts Montana has to offer, Granny’s Donut Garden and they are just $1 each!! As their Facebook page mentions, it is a small donut shop located in lovely Bozeman, Montana where they make fresh tasty donuts and interesting conversation; you need to bring cash. They were particularly good with COVID restrictions, and only allowed 4 people in at once.
Bozeman has an amazing museum called Montana State University Museum of the Rockies (MOR) which highlights the area’s amazing history. MOR is recognized as a world-class cultural and natural history museum and research facility. It is renowned for displaying an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils, including the fully mounted Montana’s T. rex skeleton!
My awesome nerdy hubby also took us to the American Computer & Robotics Museum. It was cool to be able to show a bunch of things to our son who assumes we were born with black and white TV shows and thinks our childhood was very boring! They have a few original pieces to show, and it was just a nice thing to do at our own pace. Some of the original pieces they have are not only linked to the computers; they have two original consecutive leaves from the first folio edition of Macbeth from the 1623 printing of William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. In striking contrast, they also have the first commercial computer. Boy does it look so big compared to now! They have the first microprocessor from 1971. I could go on. Point being, well worth the visit even if I am not as in love with these things as my hubby is.
We had wanted to go to the hot springs that was recommended to us, however we had to pass as we had no bathing suits… next time I will make sure to pack one!!
The next day, we went to Pompeys Pillar National Monument which is about 25 miles from Billings. There we learned more about the journey of the Lewis and Clark expedition, as well as the indigenous history and the Yellowstone River.
We went horseback riding via the Elk River Outfitters, located in Red Lodge, which is about 60 miles from Billings, but was well worth the hour drive. Our guide was a true cowboy! I had ridden horseback before but never with my two love monkeys, and oh boy was it awesome! I faced a few unexpected fears, mainly having my then 7-year-old son ride the horse all by himself after getting 2 minutes of instructions! I tried to be one with my horse, who was the only one that kept stopping to eat grass. I was trying hard to listen to the Cowboy guide and encourage my horse with my legs to gallop, but that did not work, and he kept wanting to eat grass. It may have taken me 3 days to not walk funny after!
The last night in Billings, our friend recommended we try out a pastry shop that “may or may not still exist”!! OMG! It did still exist, and was amazing! When in Billings, you must try Veronika’s Pastry Shop, which serves French, Eastern European, and Russian pastries that our friend recommended. Go early in the morning for the best options! She bakes from her European background, and it was simply yummy as good as what I have eaten at home in Montréal and in Paris!!! We tried the pastries with raspberry and cream cheese filling, and they were simply fantastic!
Quick summary of what we did in 4 days of being in Montana:
Next up: Medora, ND!