Day 1: 

Good evening,

And greetings from the 320 Ranch near Bozeman, Montana!  Yes, we all made it.  Everyone is just getting settled into their cabins in the woods right now.  It's a quarter past 7 in the evening.  At 8, we will walk to the dining room for our first country-style western dinner.   As much as a nice dinner may be appealing to some, I think everyone is looking forward to a good night's sleep in their cabins tonight.  Early to bed.

The Shanghai group arrived first, while the Beijing and Hong Kong groups arrived together a little later due to different flight schedules.  The cabins, already very nice to begin with, have recently been refurbished.  There is now an extra bathroom in each cabin....making a total of three.  The kitchen is very modern with all the latest conveniences.  And the living room with its fireplace looks very welcoming and will no doubt get some use.

All the students were amazed at the scenery when we landed in Bozeman.  Montana is known as "Big Sky Country" because of its wide open spaces.  The ranches and homes are large, but there is great space between them.  Mostly, one sees mountains with snow, forests, and the Gallatin River on the way from the airport.  .... beautiful nature.

Tomorrow, the students will have an activity filled day - horseback riding, white water rafting, and games at the ranch.  Always a great first day for getting to know everyone.  I will close for now, as it is nearly time to go for dinner.  More news tomorrow.

From the teachers and students on the Yellowstone trip,

Edward Hepting

Day 2:

Good Evening, All,

What a day it's been!  Despite being very tired last night, we all woke up early this morning.....It will take a day or two until our body clocks re-adjust here.  At 7:30, we all left our cabins and walked to the dining hall for our country western breakfast - strawberry oatmeal, waffles with maple syrup, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, and juices and breads.  Breakfast was leisurely and we could take our time.

At 9:00, each of the five cabins participated in a different activity.  We rotated the activities throughout the day so that everyone had the chance to enjoy the same things.  There was horseback riding.  The cowboys taught the students how to mount and dismount the horses, and how to steer their direction.  They then led them on a trail for one hour across a meadow, over a stream, and up a hill.  There was one cowboy for each student to make certain they were safe.  In fact, safety was primary - no galloping, just gentle walking, as most of the students were riding for the first time.  Each student also wore a helmet.  The cowhands were very friendly and looked after the students well.

The next activity was games on the front lawn.  This included horseshoes, tug-of-war, lasooing, relay races, soccer, and throwing corn bags in a hole.  This was a lot of fun and everyone had a good time.  There was even time to enjoy the swings and jungle gym.

A leisurely lunch followed with plenty of lemonade, iced tea, and water with chicken, beans, carrots, macaroni and cheese.  A hearty meal for mid-day.

The activity that everyone enjoyed most though, was the white water rafting.  From 12:45 until 4:45, the students rafted down the Gallatin River.  There were seven students and a teacher and an oarsman in each raft.  Again, safety was primary, and all students were given wet suits, life jackets, and helmets to wear.  The weather was warm and sunny, so getting wet and splashing each other was all part of the fun.  The river twisted and turned through the forested mountains, and the students learned the various techniques of managing a raft through different conditions and levels of speed of the rapids.  Even though it was an exhausting afternoon, many of the students wanted to do another rafting trip, as they enjoyed it very much.

Now, the students are enjoying a bit of free time before dinner.  Some are resting, others are writing their journals, and others are playing outside.  Each child is enjoying according to his own interest.

Another exciting day tomorrow, as we will spend the day in the town of Bozeman, visiting the Museum of the Rockies, the Homestead, the University of Montana with its ducks and rabbits and park-like setting, and the main street of Bozeman with its chocolate shops and souvenir shops.

It's been an enjoyable day, and now the students are looking forward to their next adventures.

With greetings from the teachers and students in Montana,

Edward Hepting

Day 3:

Good evening,

After another fine and very filling breakfast, we were on our bus to the town of Bozeman!  There was much to see and do today.  We began with the American Computer and Robotics Museum.  Half the group spent an hour there on a fascinating tour through communication - from the age of the dinosaurs to the present time.  The exhibits were eye-catching and colorful.  We saw an example of the Gutenberg printing press, the Enigma computer, Apple's first original computer, and many, many more interesting things.  It was amazing to see the progress and technical development just in the past twenty years!

The other half of the group went to the campus of Montana State University, almost within walking distance.  The architecture and grounds are beautiful with rabbits, squirrels, and ducks frolicking on the lawns and in the ponds.  After an hour, the two groups switched so that everyone could see everything.

Then, the entire group drove to the famous Museum of the Rockies.  After a group photo in front of the tyrannosaurus rex at the front entrance to the museum, we walked through the museum to see the dinosaur exhibits, the American Indian exhibit, and the early automobile exhibits.  We then walked outside to the Living History Homestead house that was reconstructed on the property to show how the early settlers in Montana lived 150 years ago.  This was particularly interesting as each room of the house featured a person in local costume from the period to explain the different features of the house - the washboard and hand washing machine, the wood burning stove, the loom to weave carpets, etc.  We saw the garden and the various sheds and smoke houses out back.

After a brown bag lunch at the museum, we drove to downtown Bozeman where everyone had free time in the afternoon to explore the main street.  Bozeman is the largest city in Montana, but it still has a population of only 49,000 people, while the entire state of Montana has just 1,000,000 people.  So the main street was small, quaint, colorful, and welcoming....small town America.  The shops featured bookshops, candle shops, souvenir shops, and a variety of chocolate and ice cream shops.  Everyone's favorite was The Chocolate Moose, an old time soda fountain, chocolate shop, and ice cream shop all in one.  Mountain Moose Moss and Moose Tracks were two of the favorite flavors.  The scoops were huge, so everyone was well satisfied with the delicious ice creams.

Back at the cabins, the students worked on their journals and packed their suitcases for the drive into Yellowstone tomorrow.  At 7:00, we walked to the reception area of the ranch where we boarded wooden wagons pulled by teams of horses that took us into the woods for our barbecue dinner.  The dinner was delicious - all the steak and chicken you could eat, corn on the cob, rolls, potatoes, salads, and s'mores for dessert.  We were serenaded by a cowboy singer during the dinner.  It was a special and enjoyable evening.  

We returned to the ranch after dinner for a short meeting about tomorrow's program, and then headed back to our cabins for an early night and final packing.

Looking forward to tomorrow's visit to the two historic towns of Virginia City and Nevada City....

Edward Hepting