4th of July this year is no ordinary day compared to last year when I was in my country. The 4th of July here in the United States is a special occasion where American people celebrate their independence day. Therefore, while we are here in the U.S., we get to do what most Americans usually do during this holiday.
In western Montana, not very far from Missoula, there is a tourism site called The Garden of 1000 Buddhas, in which has a strong relation to Tibetan Buddhist lama. Even though it’s hundreds thousands of miles away from home, I can feel the sense of Buddhism as much as I can relate myself to this place as we went for a tour visit there.
Then we left the garden for Salish powwow, a festival and cultural gathering event where I get to learn a little more about the Native Americans. It was quite an eventful experience getting to see the tribal traditions and the customs such as those birdy Indian customs plus the dances done by the natives, such as the “Snake Dance”. It all came as something new for me to go around and see these different booths and camps where lots of Montana and Non-Montana residents gathered on this special event (4th of July) to celebrate as much as to relate themselves back to the origins and the natives.
After having lunch and seeing the tribal dances at the Powwow, we walked to the Arlee Rodeo to see some sort of a cowboy show. At the Rodeo, there is an exhibition where the trained cowboys showed off their skills in different kinds of sport games and contests. I was very surprised to see some little girls aged around 12 to 15 to compete in the barrel racing. They are just amazingly talented. It all came very natural for them to get on those big horses 5 times their sizes and race around those barrels with stunning speed and acceleration; they are definitely pros. Afterwards, we left the rodeo for Missoula and got ready for some hiking for the fireworks.
And here comes the best part of 4th of July, in which I was personally mesmerized. The famous letter “M” sign on the mountain in Missoula is of course a landmark where most Americans would hike to for some exercises and for some landscaped views. So, we left the dorm around 9 PM and hiked up to the “M” for some view of the fireworks. Gosh, the hiking was much more of a sore and a tiring experience than I thought; those are some steeply slopes and trails. Yet, I hiked all the way up there. And Yes I made it; not just the “M” but all the way up there on top of the “M”. Just like everyone said, the view from the “M” of entire city of Missoula is just jaw dropping. Up there, I sat next to Somlith, Nam, Lai Lai and Randell and we met this friendly family of 3, Elizabeth and her 2 sons, Leo and Ely who came here in Montana for their summer break. We had such an interesting talk on different topics. Not very long after, small fireworks were being shot from different parts of Missoula. As it got darker and colder, we started to see more and more of the big ones. And, The night ended with joy, laughter, and great memories inside my head. Moments like this just don’t sink at all.
4th of July is probably one of the best and unforgettable days of my time here in Missoula. This day to certain extents made me to get a sense of an American citizen during their independence day. What a worthwhile experience, I would say.