Good things happen in Bozeman.

I’ve just wrapped up the first of two weeks of research here in Bozeman, Montana, and I’m feeling good. The Special Collections and Archives here are great: they’re organized, and have great finding aids and super helpful staff. I’ve got a lot to look at, but I’ve been getting a lot done. Since the archives aren’t open on weekends, I spent today in the library stacks, going through Montana Extension bulletins from the 1920s through the 1950s.
I think I’m going to take tomorrow off from visiting campus.
It’s turned out to be a very good week, though, all things considered. My strategies for not getting too lonely on a two-week archives stint seem to be working well. The B&B thing was a good idea: I’ve been able to have conversations with folks over breakfast before shutting myself in with the documents all day, and having a quality bathtub to soak in after a long day of research is pure luxury. I’ve been able to connect with some folks in the History Department here, including dinner with a professor and a pizza lunch with the grad students. Indeed, I was so bold as to swing by the History grad office yesterday at 5, and as a result managed to rustle up some folks to have a beer and a burger with. They then invited me along to drinks downtown with some of their friends, so I managed to have a pretty darned social day despite being a stranger here in town.
Thursday was notable because I had a great conversation with the archivist; a delicious sandwich for lunch at a nearby bakery where the baker gave me a sample of the chocolate cake she was working on as I departed; and then I ended up at Blackbird Kitchen for dinner, where I had a glass of red and the (delicious!) chopped salad, plus a fantastic conversation with the waitress. It was such a good day; it would be hard to do better.
But tonight turned out to be amazing in unexpected ways as well. I went back to Blackbird, since I was feeling like something nice but not too too expensive, and had a glass of wine and the homemade gnocchi special, which involved pesto, asparagus, tomatoes, ricotta, and roasted walnuts. Delicious. I then moseyed toward the other end of downtown, thinking to check out the local co-op and maybe get some apples or something. But as I passed by the old Willson School, I noticed there were a lot of people heading in, past flags that said “Bozeman Symphony.” So I poked my head in, just to see what the story was.
As I was waiting in line to find out about tickets, a man approached me and offered me two free tickets. His daughter and her boyfriend had backed out at the last minute, and he and his wife hadn’t had time to find anyone else to take them, so they were just giving them away. Considering this a sign that I should go to this concert, I took one; the woman standing next to me in line took the other. We all introduced ourselves, and headed in for what turned out to be a pretty great rendition of Beethoven’s Ninth, complete with choir and soloists. (There were actually so many people on stage that it looked like some sort of optical illusion in depth and perspective, like everything had been flattened out.)
So I have to say that it’s been a good trip thus far. I know my energy will begin to flag a bit this week as my departure nears and home beckons, but I have enough to do to keep me quite busy straight through till Friday afternoon.
Tomorrow, it’s all about putting together this HSS panel I need to submit on Monday. Oh, and the Museum of the Rockies.

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