Before getting to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, I began with a ride on Seattle's Link Light Rail from downtown to the airport. It is a nice and easy way to get to the airport from Seattle at a cost of only $3 for the 45-minute ride right to the airport station. Once there, it's only about a 10 minute or so walk right into the airport ticketing area. It sure beats having to pay $10-20 per day to park it at a lot, and the ride also gives some great views of Downtown Seattle from the south, as well as a nice view of Mt. Rainer.
After the light rail, it was time for the flight to Montana by way of Bozeman. This flight was courtesy of the good folks of Alaska Airlines, whom I have flown with several times and have always been satisfied with their service. I’ll certainly be using them again, especially as I hope to make a few visits to California in the not too distant future.
One of the real highlights of flying this time of year is seeing the beautiful mountains below as they still have snow on top of them. The tall mountains were probably one thing that I really missed about living in the Pacific Northwest before I had moved back a little less than a month ago, and I hope to explore the ones near home more often than I did before we had moved to North Carolina when I was a kid.
But as we get closer to Bozeman, we find the end of these mountains, and descend into the valley for our landing. We have arrived in Montana!
The first thing that I noticed about this Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport was not the small size as I kind of expected that since Bozeman isn’t a huge city, but rather the charming log cabin inspired design that it had. I always felt like airports were more or less the same as others because of their purpose, but with occasional design elements and displays that feature the cultural heritage of the city and/or country you have arrived to. Bozeman was the first one that felt like it had a sort of theme to it. Maybe I just had not noticed it as much with other airports because of how busy they are, but I really liked the design of Bozeman. If can be very relaxing as you wait for your ride to come pick you up, or as you are waiting for your departing flight.
As you walk around the airport, you will see tributes to what makes Montana a great, natural place to visit, from the information center for Yellowstone National Park (which is mostly in neighboring Wyoming, and a sliver of it is in Montana), statues of the wildlife that can be found in the state’s forests, and models of the fossils that have been found in the state.
They also have these “tourist” bears that you could take pictures with, wearing signs suggesting that you tag the airport on different social media sites.
And like any good airport, you can find an assortment of Montana inspired souvenirs to take home with you from your journey.
After a little wait, I had a rendezvous with Andrew at the airport pick-up, and since we had a little time to kill as we awaited the arrival of Phil, another of our Montana Weekend Crew, we decided to grab a drink at one of the local establishments, the Desert Rose.
This restaurant has “mom and pop” written all over it, and was a nice cozy place. While we each only had a beer, they had a full menu including their own baked pies. From the looks of it, they also offered live music on occasion.
Once we had a beer and caught up with each other, Andrew and I made our way back to the airport to pick up Phil, and we began our drive down to West Yellowstone, MT where we would be staying for the next few days. To say that it was a nice drive does not give it enough credit. It is absolutely gorgeous there as you can see below.
Along the way, we spotted one of the largest roadside animals I have ever seen in the wild, a bison! It was something else to see such a large animal just roaming around, and surprising how calm he was as vehicles zoomed right past him.
With that, we would arrive to the little town of West Yellowstone, Montana! While we were in the area at a bit of that transition time between winter and summer (i.e., half of the places were closed), there were still things to see and do that we would get to later on in the trip.
And here we have the crew for the weekend! Starting on the left with Jason, Phil, Kellen, Andrew, myself and Paul!
Up next, we take a look at the sights that come along with the drive from West Yellowstone to Big Sky Ski Resort.