Tag Archives: Missoula

A labor of love – My labor day climbing road trip! Part 5: Returning home

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Saturday, 04-Sept-2021, through Saturday, 11-Sept-2021

I love road trips. I’ve learned that, speaking to various therapists and councilors in the last year or so, long drives are a major form of meditation for me. I have something to keep me focused, and I’m accomplishing a goal, but I can let my semi-conscious mind wander and reflect on what’s been happening in my life.

I try to do this at home, of course, but… I always get too stressed out, feeling like I should be doing something instead of just sitting back and letting my brain process all the various thoughts and possibilities that are constantly screaming around in my skull.

FSaturday, 04-Sept-2021, through Saturday, 11-Sept-2021

I love road trips. I’ve learned that, speaking to various therapists and councilors in the last year or so, long drives are a major form of meditation for me. I have something to keep me focused, and I’m accomplishing a goal, but I can let my semi-conscious mind wander and reflect on what’s been happening in my life.

I try to do this at home, of course, but… I always get too stressed out, feeling like I should be doing something instead of just sitting back and letting my brain process all the various thoughts and possibilities that are constantly screaming around in my skull.

For my birthday, I’d originally planned to climb at Index with Daniel. When that fell through, I’d sketched out a road trip down highway 101 into California with my friend Laurel. That fell through too. Finally, I gave up and decided to do something on my own – something I’d always wanted to do, but had never quite been able to make happen.


An ascent of Devil’s Tower...



Friday and Saturday, 10-Sept-2021 & 11-Sept-2021


Friday:

I need to type words here… but frankly, it’s kind of hard to think up how to describe the drives home.

It’s sort of like a hike, maybe? In that a description isn’t really viable, and instead I should just skip over it as “Ben did the thing, time passed, and then he got where he was going. Here’s some pictures”?

Like the preface says, I really enjoy long drives. They give me a chance to keep the “I want to be moving!” part of my brain occupied while the “Let’s think about life!” part of my brain gets to run rampant. It’s really cool, actually… there’s been studies on “highway hypnosis”, and it’s even got a Wikipedia article written about it (Ed Note: See the link below!)… from what I can gather, it’s not dangerous… just an example of the human brain being pretty freaking amazing.

I drove.

I thought.

I kept an app open on my phone so that I could dictate notes as I thought up interesting things worth considering.

Wyoming came, and Wyoming went. Montana appeared on the horizon, and then the border passed under my wheels.

It was…

It just was. Excellent.





OHH! One thing worth noting – Missoula was still great! I had a room in a dorm this time, COVID-safe of course with tons of walls and screens, and I had BBQ again!




Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_hypnosis

Saturday:

I planned on leaving Missoula early in the morning… around dawn, ideally. That didn’t quite happen though – I got up early, of course, but as I was putting my bags in the car I noticed something… something dangerous. Something familiar to an Oregonian.

I noticed a farmer’s market.


Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t go to farmer’s markets that often. But I do try to when I have the chance – I don’t know how realistic this is, but I feel like veggies from a farmers market are just… healthier than ones from the store. You know?

They haven’t travelled as far, they haven’t been in storage quite as long, and… I dono, I kind of assume that the farms are smaller, so… they’re from less industrial seeds? That last one doesn’t quite make sense the more I think about it, but the rest of the ideas hold true.

So I bought some potatoes, carrots, dipping oil, and even a super-fancy dry-aged New York Strip steak. I’d still be getting home pretty early, so I figured that a nice meal would help top off the trip, you know?

One last stop on the way out of town took me to a semi-famous used book store (Ed Note: Hello again! Check out yet another link below!), though I didn’t find anything particularly interesting. A few mountaineering books that were maybe worth something, but… none of the climbing guidebooks that I’d been hoping to find. And since my apartment is already a bit overloaded with books, I held off for the time being and got back on the road.


The drives were.

Just as the day before, they simply were.

Miles passed, Montana passed, Idaho passed, and then even Washington passed.

The Columbia River grew up beside me, and the Gorge reared up around me.



Soon enough I was home, laying out the spoils of my adventure and cooking up an exceptionally stellar welcome-home meal.




It had been an excellent trip.


Link: http://www.montanavalleybookstore.com/

A labor of love – My labor day climbing road trip! Part 1: Driving to South Dakota

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Saturday, 04-Sept-2021, through Saturday, 11-Sept-2021

I love road trips. I’ve learned that, speaking to various therapists and councilors in the last year or so, long drives are a major form of meditation for me. I have something to keep me focused, and I’m accomplishing a goal, but I can let my semi-conscious mind wander and reflect on what’s been happening in my life.

I try to do this at home, of course, but… I always get too stressed out, feeling like I should be doing something instead of just sitting back and letting my brain process all the various thoughts and possibilities that are constantly screaming around in my skull.

For my birthday, I’d originally planned to climb at Index with Daniel… or possibly backpack into the North Cascades with hSaturday, 04-Sept-2021, through Saturday, 11-Sept-2021

I love road trips. I’ve learned that, speaking to various therapists and councilors in the last year or so, long drives are a major form of meditation for me. I have something to keep me focused, and I’m accomplishing a goal, but I can let my semi-conscious mind wander and reflect on what’s been happening in my life.

I try to do this at home, of course, but… I always get too stressed out, feeling like I should be doing something instead of just sitting back and letting my brain process all the various thoughts and possibilities that are constantly screaming around in my skull.

For my birthday, I’d originally planned to climb at Index with Daniel. When that fell through, I’d sketched out a road trip down highway 101 into California with my friend Laurel. That fell through too. Finally, I gave up and decided to do something on my own – something I’d always wanted to do, but had never quite been able to make happen.


An ascent of Devil’s Tower...



Saturday and Sunday, 04 and 05-Sept-2021



Saturday:



I left Wilsonville at 8:00 on a Saturday morning. I’d woken up around 7:30, which… for a Saturday, is crazy-early. But I had a full day ahead of me, and a long day of prep work behind me that I wasn’t about to waste.

I’d spent a ton of time the previous week, and almost the entire day Friday, preparing for this trip. I’d printed maps, confirmed reservations, made a list and checked it far more than twice, and even went grocery shopping to buy food, plastic bins, and various other accoutrements required for a 2,500 mile roadtrip to states I’d never been to.


The plan was to drive to Missoula, Montana, and stay the night at a hostel that I’d reserved. Then, finish the long drive out to South Dakota, and spend the night about an hour away from the climbing destination. You know, to give me time to wake up in the morning?

The drive got underway cleanly. I drove, and Oregon flew by. Washington followed suit, with the terrain and the Columbia River Gorge passing beautifully behind me as I drove onward.

When I broke into Idaho, my jaw dropped.

I’ve been to Montana before, but the roads through Northern Idaho… they’re just purely glorious! Beautiful hills, tall trees, and winding roads with impossibly high speed limits. No traffic, with the exception of a few 18 wheelers and people driving faster than their old trucks should feasibly be able to. Just the open road…



I made good time, getting to Missoula. I’d estimated 10 hours, based on the 9hour driving time Google estimated, and instead I made it in 8.5… even counting in stretch stops every 2 hours. Turns out – open highways do let you make good time on the road. Especially when you’re driving a happily maintained Mustang (knock on wood).

I’ll admit – my back and legs were pretty stiff by the time I walked into the Hostel. I had the rumblings of a caffeine migraine coming on as well, which absolutely didn’t make for an auspicious start to the trip. None-the-less, I persisted onward. I made myself a light cup of tea, took a quick nap, and then took a walk downtown to get some BBQ from a place Clara, Brian, and myself had loved the last time I was in town.

I ate, I rested, and I felt a bit better. Then a shower, some writing, some reading, and a good end to an excellent first day.




Sunday:


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Montana – A quiet Sunday

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Sunday, 13-June-2021


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.