Saturday, August 2, 2008

Nina’s American Book Tour: Bozeman, Montana

The Barnes & Noble book store in Bozeman, Montana, is located on Main Street, a hip and funky street that gets downright interesting by the time you hit 10th Avenue (more on that in a later post). I signed several copies of Darwin’s Paradox last week at the store and must thank Jeni, Karen and Louise (hope your ankle is better, Louise!) for their help in setting everything up on such short notice. If you live in or near or are simply passing through this cool city in the Montana mountains and gateway to Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park, drop in to Barnes & Noble and pick up a signed copy. Last I heard there were still some left.

Bozeman itself is a colorful and attractive city with cultural diversity and a level of “coolness” that comes from being a university town set amidst lofty mountains with a western flavor. Bozeman is located in the Gallatin Valley, surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges. North of the city, the Bridger Mountains attract thousands of skiers each winter. The Gallatin Range and the Madison Range, south of Bozeman, rise more than 10,000 feet and have peaks covered with snow much of the year. Montana State University is located in Bozeman, with a very attractive campus and programs that range from agricultural sciences, engineering to the fine arts. I spent some time there, particularly in the student union building, where the bookstore and the pub were. I would so enjoy teaching here; I just might…My son wouldn't mind it too much either. According to "this is place to go if you love to be outdoors and bums are all over the campus and so are the hippies...its a true party college." The Museum of the Rockies, located on campus, features many wonderful paleontology exhibits. Jack Horner, the world's top dinosaur hunter and an adviser to the movie "Jurassic Park," works at the Museum. Occasionally, Museum visitors see Professor Horner inspecting the Museum's latest exhibits.

The visitor’s guide describes Bozeman as “a charming town. In a John Wayne—Norman Rockwell—Bob Marley sort of way.” The town’s history goes back to the time when Gallatin Valley (where Bozeman lies) was used by Indian tribes, including the Flathead, Sioux, Shoshone, Nez Perce, and Blackfeet, who all hunted for game and edible plants. According to tribal lore, Indians agreed not to fight in the Gallatin Valley, instead conceding to share the area’s beauty and resources with one another. European fur traders came in the 1700s, with Lewis and Clark leading a historic expedition to the Three Forks of the Missouri in 1805. Mountain men roamed through the area trapping beaver and acting as guides.

The town is named after John Bozeman, a Georgian who’d left his family to find fortune in the West. The town was named in his honor in 1864, shortly before he was killed near Yellowstone under mysterious circumstances.

Yellowstone National Park, just south of Bozeman, was created in 1872 and is the first and oldest national park in the world. Bozeman is often referred to as the “Yellowstone Connection”. After an unsuccessful bid to become the state capital, Bozeman was chosen as the site for the new agricultural college, which became Montana State University, home of the fighting Bobcats.

Bozeman currently supports a population of 30,000 interesting "urban cowboys" from young to old and funky to intellectual. From appearance, dress, comportment and speech I was treated to an attractive and exciting commingling of southern wild west and northern yuppy vogue. Travel & Leisure Online wrote: “The look on the street is Carrie Bradshaw in cowboy boots. No need to pack a blow-dryer; the Keep it Wild philosophy extends from nature to hair, which is also left untamed.” I felt at home.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Your book tour is taking you to some beautiful places, Nina.

sfgirl said...

Ah, thanks, Jean-luc. It is indeed. Beautiful places and interesting people who live there. I have met many wonderful people along the way and most of them serendipitiously through some event (the best ones often through a mini-disaster like the time my car broke down...ah, but that's another post...coming up)...Journeying across America is a full-bodied experience (like a wonderful coffee--speaking of, my next post on Bozeman features a great coffee place! Stay tuned!)

James Austin said...

Looks like a great place to be in August! Glad you are enjoying the tour.

sfgirl said...

Thanks, James. Montana is a beautiful state and Bozeman, with its university-culture, is ideally located.