Life is finally calming down a bit to give me time for a fun blog. In early October, Dan and I took a trip to Montana for a Rocket Mass Heater Innovators Jamboree and since that is a really long drive, we stopped partway there in a little town called Livingston, Montana. It was so lovely I knew I’d do a blog on it to give you all a little taste of it.
Our first goal on making this trip was to have accommodations so Dan went on Airbnb and found a great place in Livingston. There are a bunch of places in town but this was one of the least expensive. Ginger was our host and she was terrific. The space is cozy and while the bed is really great for many – it’s a nice bed, really – it was a bit firm for me. Dan loved it. And she has a bunch of pillows which I loved. There was a snack and welcome basket with a handwritten note and it just made us feel super special. I hate to even tell you about all the wonderful things because you know how it is when someone gets your expectations up and then you’re like, “Hmmm, it was good but I was expecting more.” But I am almost not even worried about this as Ginger does go the extra mile.
She has Netflix on the TV downstairs and, since we don’t have TV and were just pooped after driving for 12 hours+, we decided to watch a little something and found this cute show called Disjointed with Kathy Bates about an L.A. marijuana dispensary. Here’s a review from a non-drug user at the LA Times that I found to be accurate.
When we’d told our friends Jon and Rita Koll about our trip they explained to us that Livingston is actually a really popular place with the superstars. Apparently it’s no big deal to see a movie star enjoying dinner at the same restaurant as you. However, we arrived on a Wednesday night and were leaving early Thursday so I did not expect to see any superstars, figuring they will be there mostly on weekends.
Having gone to bed relatively early, I got up and went for a walk to town while I let Dan, who’d done most of the driving, sleep in a bit. As I’d been hearing trains go by, I wanted to see one up close so I headed to the Historic Train Depot and Depot Rotary Park just a couple blocks down from the BnB. Lucky for me, there was some train activity early on a Thursday. It was crisp at 34°F but I was layered in a couple sweatshirts and did fine – though I wished for some gloves. I walked along Park Street (also Hwy 89 and I-90) which is the main drag along the railroad tracks through town. I darted to my right onto Main Street and noted the temperature – missing those gloves now!
There were a bunch of little coffee shops, art/gift shops, galleries, and general town businesses. I loved that the Montana Watch Store was located in the E. Thomas and Son Building – reminding me of my boy who always loved watches growing up. I was thrilled to see a couple with their down on their bicycle built for three! I missed getting a photo (but was able to crop one from the video to open this blog) so they did a U-turn on Main Street and gave me a chance for a video!! It looks like a fun and quirky community – I was really stoked by their Community Ed poster.
I found two local bookstores. The Sax & Fryer was founded in 1883 and the building has a beautiful tile entryway. Warning. Looks like they are a cash only business. There was also a smaller antiquarian and used bookstore Elk River Books that had a wonderful sounding speaker that evening, Gretel Ehrlich. I just wish it was later in the day so I could go into some of these lovely shops and that we were staying another night so I could visit that bookstore event. Ah, next time.
And, as I didn’t, perhaps you don’t know that Livingston was once the gateway to Yellowstone. There was a fellow guest at the BnB and he was meeting with family in the park. Well, had I known how close we were I might have asked Dan to add a couple days on the front end of the trip – though where we’d have found them, I cannot say! September to October there just are not enough days to get everything done that needs done.
The most interesting part of my walk that morning was when I stopped to take a second look at a building that had caught my eye on the walk east along Park Street. Coming back to the BnB, I walked a block south to get a closer look and as I was checking it out, a woman pulled up in a minivan asking, “Are you buying that building?” I explained that I was just taking a second look at it as I wondered what it was – it looked to me like a Nazi HQ. She proceeded to tell me all about Livingston, Montana and her family’s presence there since the town was established. Her great-grandfather had settled in the late 1880’s to work for the railroad. Her family lived on 6th street. I noted, BTW that the city of Livingston has identified their streets on each corner. I think maybe it’s because if the Yellowstone Caldera blows, leveling all the infrastructure, the street names will allow identification of locations even without all the houses and buildings. Anyhow, this lady was one her way to a cleaning job but she spent about 30 minutes telling me all about the corporations that began in Livingston, how the first Yellowstone guests arrived in stagecoaches – hence the hotels that popped up in town, how sometimes there are superstars – and her own sighting of Garrison Keillor in town, and how she often gives tours and she wished we were staying longer so she could give us more of a tour of Livingston. I imagine she’s a pretty good tour guide as her time with me was pretty entertaining. I believe this is her family home while growing up – if I followed her description accurately.
While on my walk I’d seen signs for Sacajawea Park and decided that Dan and I would check it out before heading on to Missoula. I’m so glad we did as it was a beautiful park and a lovely day to see the Yellowstone River.
I’d say that we really enjoyed our short time in Livingston and I can see potential for a longer visit in the area. Maybe next year we’ll make more time on our way to the Rocket Mass Heater Jamboree.