Missoula is a small Montana city, but in its way, very much a modern city. I didn’t expect to see much of the modern world this summer. I lived in Montana from age 10 to almost 16 and remember the places I lived being pretty in the dark, strongly religious, and having almost a complete lack of diversity aside from the few misfits like myself I would befriend.
Missoula however has a pretty active bike culture, bike lanes, bike stands, people actually using bikes etc., an active music culture, night lift, kitsch shops and interesting art all over town. Some of this has a lot to do with being a “College Town” I’m sure, but a nice feature for anyone who actually lives there longer than 4 years.
The cell phone reception was great all over town, though not 4G like Kalispell was (must be because Glacier is nearby), and wi-fi cafes were common. We found our favorite cafe downtown, called Liquid Planet. They served all coffee drinks, smoothies, light lunch items and pastries, and doubled as a drink-a-torium, selling coffee accessories, wine, soda stream machines, tea infusers, hillbilly wine glasses made from jars (awesome), and even had some british chocolate bars, nom.
People were generally friendly aside from the occasional rude college kid. I got to have my moment with a rude college student with some rudeness of my own. The girl was texting and driving in the lane next to my mom and I, on a curving intersection that joined another street. She had a pen in her mouth and her eyes on her phone, and I have no idea how she made the turn at all. She had her window rolled down so I yelled “You’re a fu#$ing idiot!!!” and she moaned “gaaah whatever!”, put her phone down and turned at the next street. I have no tolerance at all for people texting and driving, I barely have tolerance for people driving and talking on their phones, but texting and driving is just a straight path to manslaughter. So many times on our long drives between towns we’re stuck behind some swerving maniac and when we pass them to get away from them, we find they are talking on their phones. I usually hope they at least go in the ditch.. not die.. just scare the crap out of themselves.
Anyway… Back to Missoula! Watch out for those college students.
One weekend there was a car show in town that I wanted to see, though after running some motorcycle and trailer related errands, almost all the cars were gone from the park. We did see a lot of the cars driving around town though and even more parked on the streets for sale. These weren’t in the show but what a great time to find people who want a classic car to restore I guess.
The park where the show had been was right next to the Clark Fork River where we had seen on the news people surfing and kayaking on a particularly rough part under the Higgins Street bridge. Several people were there taking turns on the epic and solitary waves, having no trouble entering and exiting the river in a 15 foot span without going downstream at all. Neither of us had ever heard of anyone surfing a river, and of course my camera malfunctioned when a surfer finally managed to stand up on his board and I got a series of awesome shots, now lost in digital hell somewhere.
The next day we went to check out Blue Mountain, an area south of Missoula on the way to Lolo. It was a popular area with joggers, mountain bikers and hikers all along the way up but we eventually found a trail that had only a couple of cars next to it and walked down that for a while. Afterwards we checked out another trail that went uphill towards one of the small peaks in the area. It was a hot day so we were surprised when we ran into a rapidly panting dog who was walking straight down the side of the mountain towards us and seemed to have plans to go even farther down. We gave him some of our water and kept him walking on the trail with us till we knew who or where his owners were. When I was a kid in Montana, I found one of our dogs on the mountain we lived on. He had been purposely dumped there, and we even found the owners who admitted to it shamelessly, so I half thought we had a new dog till after about a few minutes we finally saw and heard the owners above us on the trail. They were clueless to our attempts to help and just walked by with a “Hi”. The dog joining them and their 2 other large dogs on the right path, and hopefully more hydrated at least.
After the hike we checked out the ATV trail I would go on to break my ankle/leg on the next weekend….
We were there for 3 weeks which is usually sufficient time to look around a place, hike, see downtown, go for some country drives. We get a lot done in a weekend. In the evenings after work we went to my moms place, bringing our dinner with us, where we would watch a movie, or maybe go out to eat. A few afternoons I took off work to hang out and do errands with her. It was nice to spend some real time hanging out after not seeing her for about 3 years, and only on holidays before that.
Of all the places my mom has lived, I really think Missoula is a good size for her, though we both agree she could use a little house with a yard rather than an apartment. All good things come with time (I think), to most of us at least. There are always those people who get what they want when they want it without having to wait or work hard, but what kind of experiences or learning can one get if everything is given to us easily? For me life is always about the journey I guess, and I try to make the best of all good or “bad” parts.