Last week, Billings Hotel and Convention Center housed approximately 500 bloggers for the 2019 Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX).
TBEX is the largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and industry professionals. Each year, TBEX partners with fantastic host destinations in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific to bring the travel industry’s most creative minds together to learn, network and do business.
Amid the already eventful conference in Montana’s largest city, ‘Visit Southeast Montana’ set up a number of experiences around the region for these bloggers to try on September 10 and 11. The ‘Wing Over the Prairies to Hike and Hunt Fossils’ experience brought 18 people between the two days over to Glendive on charter flights, sponsored by Cape Air. We were excited to give these travel bloggers from all over our local Glendive experience!
After getting their morning pick-me-up and a few moments of post flight relaxation at Bloom Coffeehouse & Eatery, we hopped on the bus to our next stop, Makoshika State Park. Rain or shine, and yes, we got both, the bloggers thoroughly enjoyed getting to experience the park and all it had to offer. Michelle Marine, a blogger from the second day, wrote in an Instagram post,
“The name Makoshika means, ‘From the Land of Bad Spirits’ in the Lakota language, but we didn’t find any bad spirits there – only lots of fun!! If you like amazing hiking, beautiful scenery, and/or dinosaur fossils, you need to add SE Montana to your bucket list!! Like we needed another reason to want to come back to Montana. I know my kids would absolutely love this area!” @simplifylivelove
We could have explored the park nonstop, but in order to keep everyone on schedule, we had to stop and break for lunch. Cafe GMC catered a wonderful sack lunch for everyone. They even prepared some of our very own Yellowstone Caviar, which was a big hit. Cross Country Brewing and Tongue River Winery also provided some beer and wine tastings for the visitors. As Chamber Director, Christa VanDyke said, “Only in Montana can you have a brown bag lunch with some caviar.” Park manager, Chris Dantic, arranged for some drummers from the Crow tribe to come share their music with us while we ate. Sylvio and Lori of ‘Voyage Writers’, bloggers from day one, said it best, “Lunch outside with #Crow nation drummers really set the mood.” @voyagewriters
Nearing the end of the experience, we made our way back to the park visitor’s center. There, Dantic wrapped up our time in Makoshika with a short tour of the museum inside the visitor’s center, as well as a taste of the ‘Paleo Experience’ they offer throughout the summer. Between exploring the park, the museum, and Dantic’s extremely knowledgeable staff, the bloggers got a great learning experience in the park.
Finishing up at the park, we got back on the bus for one final stop before taking everyone back to the airport. That stop was ‘Hell Creek Music & More’. The bloggers were excited to visit one of our many local shops in town, and even more excited to see Glendive’s own escape room. Although they did not get to try their hand at escaping due to time constraints, they were able to get a walk-through of the room.
We all know, everything comes to an end. After a great day of learning and sight-seeing, it was time to take everyone back to the airport for their flight back to Billings. Thank you to Dawson County Transit’s urban transportation service and their drivers, Bruce Miller and Jim Skillstead, for getting us everywhere we needed to go.
While waiting for the bloggers to board the plane and take off, a few of us made our way through the rain and across the wet runway to explore the Lockheed P-2 Neptune Bomber 05 that retired in Glendive August 5, 2018.
We wish we could have spent more time with all the bloggers and show them more of the wonderful town of Glendive that we call home. However, with the little bit they did experience, many of them expressed interest and excitement in one day returning to our small community among the beautiful badlands of Makoshika.