Although I was dedicated to do research and visit Otto’s places in Bozeman, I also spent some time doing “normal” things and enjoyed the summer life in the city. On the farmer’s market I met Stella, a girl from Munich selling German-style bread (with a montanan touch), and sure enough we cheered together for the German team during the European Soccer Championship and survided those many heart attacks during the game against Italy together. To get a little excercise myself I joined the Bozeman Ultimate Summer league and enjoyed two wonderful nights throwing some discs. Other summer nights were filled with Music on Main Street, when downtown was closed for cars. Everyone walked around drinking beer to the tunes of a great band in the golden light of a perfect montanan sunset. The vibes felt quite European and my German friend Julia and I certainly were reminded of our many summer festivals back home.
Hot summer days in Montana are best spent in cool water, and my hostfamily took me on a tube floating trip down the Madison river and day on the boat at the Ferry Canyon Lake. When the temperatures cool down in the evening, an after-work hike is just fantastic! My friend Tammy and I went up to Lava Lake, a beautiful Lake out in the nature, but only short ways from Bozeman.
I was told that I cannot leave Bozeman without a hike to the M and I quickly understood why. The short hike up was beautiful and the view over Bozeman was quite amazing! Knowing where the farm was, I was able to spot it from the M….and knowing this was the closest mountain from the farm…I am pretty sure Otto hiked through here!
Probably the most American and western activity I did was watching a rodeo. On a Saturday night, my hostfamily took me to the rodeo in the neighbouring Livingston. The whole event started out with, of course, the american national anthem – accompanied by the a giant flag being flown in on a helicopter (!). Welcome to Rodeo! We sat at the little stadium and I felt like in a movie. Only that it was real. It was in that moment that I finally knew that I had arrived in the Wild West! Tons of Cowboys (who looked exactly like in the movies!) were sitting on the fences, the Rodeo-girls waited for their appearance and the wild horses were huddled togehter in an enclosure. The cowboys competed in catching a small calves, riding wild horses and wild bulls – the girls speed raced around barrels and helped to get the calves out of the arena. As a show-highlight a cowboy with a stagecoach and 6 (!) horses presented amazing tricks and ability. Later, the cowboy came out without the stagecoach, standing on the horses’ backs! It was really special to watch!
When I think about it, there is one more activity that was very american, or maybe even montanan: shooting guns! At first, I was very opposed to the idea of shooting a gun, which I had never done in my life. But after thinking some more about it – and remembering that my great-great-grandfather went hunting all the time here – I decided to try it. One day, my host Mike and me went out onto his property and shot guns – I was introduced to the various rules of handling a gun and, for example, how to make sure there was no more amonition inside. It took me quite a while to point the rifle of my first shot and when I finally clicked and shot the gun it was very powerful. At the end of the day I had shot a total of 5 different ones – 2 pistoles, 2 rifles and 1 shot-gun – and you may call me a natural talent – actually hit a clay pigdeon with the shot gun and small target 200 yards away with a pistole. It was such an interesting experience and I am very thankful to Mike for showing me!
Bozeman is also the place where I spent the most important holiday of the year: July 4th! I spent the day with some friends I had met through frisbee and we met for a barbeque with some great frisbee-back-yard games. In the afternoon we headed to Bozeman to listen to the concert and fireworks – which happened to have the perfect background of just another amazing montanan sunset.