Any morning that starts out with French Toast is a good morning.
A morning that starts out with sugar-covered French Toast is a great morning.
This? This was an exceptionally excellent morning. Not only did it include sugar-covered French Toast, but it also included some leftover brisket from the BBQ that we’d had the night before, alongside fluffy scrambled eggs, a-la Brian and Clara.
After greatly enjoying our breakfasts, packing.
After packing, cleaning.
After cleaning? Hiking!
One of our original targets for hiking was a rather popular area called Pattee Canyon. It looked good, from a distance and elevation perspective, but it hadn’t had any notes of great views of expansive wildflowers… which put it a bit lower on our list for the weekend. But now that it was later on, and we were all tired… a simple walk where we could chat and talk sounded exactly like what the doctor ordered.
We drove, parked, and started the hike in… into the beautiful woods and roughly 90+ degree Montana summer heat.
I’ll tell you, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Not in a bad way, at all, but… I don’t know, for some reason I was expecting Montana to be a bit more rocky than it is… more jagged mountains. Maybe I’m mistaking it for Colorado? But this was… well, just like the other hikes that we’d done. Rolling hills, tall trees, and a big sky. No wonder they call this “Big Sky Country”.
We walked, we talked, and we appreciated nature. Clara found some excellent flowers, and soon enough we were heading back into town for lunch… and by lunch, I of course mean Ice Cream!
We hit up a place called “Big Dipper”, an ice cream shop that Brian and Clara had been ranting and raving about for pretty much the whole time we were there. We got some rather generous scoops, and I’ll freely agree with them that it was well worth the wait in line.
After making myself far over-stuffed with huckleberry and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (with a chocolate shell and rainbow sprinkles, of course), we set about to explore town. No major goals, just… you know, poking around and enjoying the small-town vibes. We hit up some novelty shops, an outdoors store, and quite a few other interesting places… There’s a lot of art in a small town like Missoula, and wandering the shop was definitely a nice treat.
The rest was just saying out goodbyes, battling my way through both an airport lobby and the tides of time itself, and finally finding myself back in the 1970s, sitting at a gate, waiting for my flight to wing me back to Portland.
Stepping into the Missoula airport from the plane was stepping directly into the 1970s.
I haven’t been in the 1970s before, of course, but… I feel confident that I’m pegging the decade right. Everything was wood panels, brickwork, and interesting mahogany-colored trophy cases of various memorabilia and state-specific nostalgics.
It was interesting. I’d never time-traveled as abruptly as this before, but it felt… kind of right, if that makes sense? I don’t know, just something about the transition from Seattle to Missoula… it felt right to be time traveling.
It’s been ages since I’ve been on a plane, or taken any kind of trip that doesn’t involve lots of driving. Not that I mind driving, of course, but… ya know. You can only get so far in so long by driving. Kind of hard to take a weekend trip to… say… Montana… by driving. It’s take all weekend to get there! And… then you’d be there, and not back for work on Monday morning!
So we took a plane. They’re quicker.
Let me repeat that.
Took a plane.
To go to a place.
YAY PANDEMIC BEING SLIGHTLY LESS INVASIVE!
I’d been able to get out from work a bit early on Thursday, getting myself and Brian to the airport easily in time to have a quick bite of dinner before hopping on a small puddle-jumper up to Seattle… in time to then hop an even smaller puddle jumper out to Missoula.
Clara was waiting for us after we worked our way through the time warp, and together we picked up her rental car and got ourselves driven to the AirBnB that she’d rented. It was beautiful – nicely up a small dirt road, near a fairly large farm, and soon enough we’d crashed for the evening in prep for our adventures!
The AirBnB that Clara had found was beautiful – a guest house above a garage, overlooking a rather huge horse farm. Behind us were deep woods, with trails that we were told led all the way into town some miles away. It was comfy and cozy, and simple enough to get ourselves settled.
Perfectly Montana, in my mind.
Friday dawned nice and early, and we got ourselves moving fairly quickly.
By that, I obviously mean that Brian and Clara made breakfast, and I sat back and enjoyed it.
Our first target of the day was the runners shop to pick up Clara’s race bib for her half-marathon scheduled for the next day – the real core of the entire trip, in fact. With that in mind, let me start from the beginning.
This trip was planned a few months back – Clara had signed up for a race in Montana, and had rented an AirBnB and car already for it. But both were large enough to accommodate a few other people, so I got the invite to join her and Brian if I had some spare time. Interestingly enough, I absolutely did… so a few tickets were bought, and out I flew.
Clara picked up her race packet, and Brian and I looked around. We’d done some research on hikes ahead of time, and had a rather extensive list of possible hikes that we could do… but none had particularly stood out to me as notably better than the others… Thankfully, the runners shop we were in had a beautiful sign set up with various trail conditions – one of which specifically noted the excellent wildflowers that were in bloom as of this morning.
To us, that was enough. After picking up the packet, we zoomed onward, up Mount Jumbo and then over to the Vista Point loop!
They were both lovely hikes, but there isn’t too much to say about them. I enjoyed the views, my knee kind of hurt, and the wildflowers were pretty… though not quite to the same extent as what I’d been lucky enough to see on some of Oregon’s hillsides. They were both concretely pleasant.
Afterward, famished, we made our way to the Lolo Peak Brewery. Brian and Clara had read excellent things about it, so we were quite excited to lay out paws into some good food – especially after all the hiking in the sun! We ordered drinks, appetizers, and meals… and then proceeded to enjoy the drinks while waiting roughly a lifetime for the rest. Turns out, the Pandemic’s impact could still be felt, especially in the service industry… but we persevered, and finally had our gobs stuffed full with dinner.
As a nice bonus, I wasn’t the only one taking pictures this time!
With the permission of Brian and Clara, sit back and enjoy the next gallery worth of excellent shots – some of which actually include me, for once!
See? That’s why I need to remember to bring people along for adventures more often… need my photographers!