Monday, 6/4/01 - Thursday, 6/7/01 - Getting to Know Bozeman
I spent the next few days in Bozeman, Montana, doing things and meeting people, learning about the town through those who lived there. I was made to feel invited and welcome wherever I went. Instantly, it was as if I belonged. And the feeling I got when I looked around as I drove into the city and saw mountains everywhere I looked - it was humbling and comforting at the same time.
Monday - Ami met me at the Bozeman Hot Springs, conveniently located next to the Bozeman KOA. We had massages and then soaked in the very hot water which took me a few minutes to get used to and then I was too overheated and had to get out after a few more minutes. But despite my hot spring wimpiness, we had a relaxing time.
Lunch was nearby at the Korner Kafe - aptly named because it was located at the Four Corners intersection leading East to Bozeman, North to Belgrade, South to Yellowstone and West to Churchill. And no matter which way you looked, literally 360 degrees around town, there were mountains. The Bridgers, Spanish Peaks, Absaroka, Crazy Mountains - some sloping with grass, shrubs and trees in shades of greens and browns, others dark and streaked with snow on top.
As I ate my salad at lunch, a reporter from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle showed up with a photographer and we talked, but luckily, no photos were taken with food in my mouth. I brought them back to the KOA where I did an interview and photo shoot with the Berts.
Then I cleaned the RV and later, had dinner with Ami and another woman named Deb, from RightNow Technologies who was at the "Sex and the City" gathering the night before. We went to the Aleworks, a local brew pub with surprisingly good food. I had the meatloaf and mashed potatoes - comfort food.
On the way back to the campground, I marveled at how the nearly black mountains in the distance and deep green fields in the foreground looked like fake movie sets against the intense swaths of purpling sky. What little light was left from the late evening sun cast an eerie shine to everything else - farmhouses, fences, tractors and other equipment - giving them a plastic look as if they were all props and not really real. It was an impressive and almost eerie sight.
Tuesday - Today was my day to visit RightNow Technologies, where Duncan Bullock worked, at the company's new offices on the outskirts of town. My visit was cut short when I got a call from the Associate Dean of the School of Business at Montana State University. He would be willing to meet with me if I'd come over to the campus. The meeting had been arranged by Pat, a woman from MSU who I had also met at the "Sex and the City" gathering. That girls' night out had been an invaluable networking event as well, meeting amazing and generous women who were all too happy to help me find my way in Bozeman.
Pat had tirelessly made calls around campus to arrange meetings for me, an incredible effort on her part. So Duncan drove me to campus (another amazing woman - I was so lucky to have met her online), and I met with the Associate Dean, expressing my interest in moving to Bozeman and teaching.
He half-heartedly gave me the information for what turned out to be an open call for adjunct professor positions that they had put out ten days earlier - exactly what I was looking for. It seemd that he wanted me to first decide to move to Bozeman and actually move here before I applied, but in my mind, getting a teaching position would precipitate the move.
After the meeting and contemplating my next move (will it be to Bozeman?), Ami picked me up and took me to a Rotary Club meeting where all the movers and shakers of Bozeman met. The lunchtime presentation was about a bond to fund a new public library in town and the discussion was lively and interesting. I was fascinated by the important matters in a small town.
That evening, I spoke at RightNow Technologies to about 75 people, some from the company and the rest from town. My topic was about women's changing role in new media and how women are portrayed by the press and in advertising when it comes to technology and business (some of my "pet" topics). Afterward, I did a live chat on America Online for iUniverse about promoting books on the Internet. Then Duncan and I went, exhausted, to Aleworks to get some dinner, meeting up with an interesting woman named Kate who used to sing in a group locally and gave me their CD.
The day was long, busy and fruitful.
Wednesday - At 9am, I took the RV to M&W Repair for a regular tuneup - oil change, check the brake and transmission fluid levels, check the shocks, the usual. I called Enterprise and they picked me up and furnished me with a minivan for the day so I drove out to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. Because of stringent zoning in town, this Wal-Mart wasn't the typical red, blue and grey but instead the facade was in shades of brown to "blend" and the parking lot had more trees and landscaping than most. There were a cluster of large RVs toward the back of the lot who had parked overnight as this Wal-Mart allowed.
Afterward, I drove into town, much easier to maneuver with the minivan than RV, and went to Poor Richard's magazine store and the Leaf and Bean for a decaf iced latte. Before long, the RV was ready and I drove it back to the KOA.
Deb arrived in the late evening to bring me along on her trip to Target. I resisted every temptation to buy things that I really don't need but wanted to get anyway. Then Deb drove me along a country road as the sun began to set - by that time it was closing in on 9pm. Brilliant colors spread around us, seeping into the darkening mountains - peaches, violets, and deep, dark blues.
She brought me to a tiny town near the base of the Bridgers to show me a street sign that, from a distance, looked like one of those signs with arrows pointing in different directions that usually say things like "Alaska 1900 miles, Brazil 3500 miles, France 6000 miles." This one was like a local directory with the names of folks who lived in the town and the mileage to their homes in every direction. Life in a small town.
Thursday - In the morning, I drove to the MSU campus to guest lecture at a Masters' level accounting class focused on customer service, yet another opportunity arranged by Pat. I spoke about my five years running Cybergrrl, Inc., how we set up the business, obtained and retained clients, priced services, and grew the company.
Afterward, a reporter and cameraman from a local TV station showed up to interview me for the 6 o'clock news. All the media attention I was getting for my visit, talks and books were arranged by Duncan, who despite an intense deadline for a freelance graphic design project she was doing pro bono for the re-opening of the Yellowstone Museum, continued to orchestrate interviews for me.
I remained on campus all day, having lunch with Pat and getting a tour of her facilities (she oversees information technology for the campus) as well as a tour of the modern Burn Telecommunications Center. Then I walked back to the RV which I had parked in the Breeden Fieldhouse parking lot because it was spacious, walked the Berts, and layed down to take a nap. Having my entire house with me as I travel is continuously convenient and beneficial and closing the blinds in any parking lot to take a nap is always possible.
That evening, I drove to Duncan's cozy house on a beautiful tree-lined street in the historic district. We had Duncan's "famous" Chinese Chicken Salad for dinner then walked a few blocks into the heart of downtown Bozeman to catch an entertaining Celtic music performance at the Leaf and Bean. Halfway through the performance, Ami showed up with a gift for me - a miniature ceramic cowboy boot with the name "Free Spirit" to remind me of Montana.